Food lovers turn to Booky for help
In today’s world where everyone seems to be a food expert and restaurant critic, with a millennial culture of Instagram reportage of your daily menu, how do you up your game of being in the know on the latest restaurants and food events?
Count on technology to help you.
Three years ago, Englishman Ben Wintle of Scrambled Eggs Pte. Ltd., a company that creates apps (an application downloaded on a mobile device/phone), had a eureka moment when he and girlfriend Iza Calzado, the impeccably beautiful Filipina actress, could not search fast enough for restaurants because of the Philippines’ poor Internet service. (By the way, a February 2016 article in Forbes discusses “How the Philippines Got Asia’s Worst Internet Service.” As the Aquino administration exits, the issue remains unresolved.)
So Ben decided to create an app called Booky that allows hungry users to search for restaurants even if they are not online.
I asked Ben in a phone interview how the app can possible work offline.
“You know how you have your Contacts list in your phone? It is similar to that,” he explained. It’s just like having a personal directory of all available restaurants out there plus tips on food events and restaurant discounts.
I just downloaded the app myself and guess what—now I have a directory of over 15,000 restaurants.
The app has listings for Metro Manila, Baguio and Tagaytay.
It’s a very user-friendly app. Even “manangs” like me can easily get the hang of it.
The search bar allows you to search for restaurants by location, restaurant name or even cuisine. For example, you can search Greenbelt Japanese; Jollibee Greenbelt.
It’s very accurate, too. I tried to search Thai Serendra, and true enough, it produced no results because the nearest Thai restaurant is not in Serendra but High Street. A search for “Thai Fort” though produced eight names, from SM Aura to Bayani Road. Pretty impressive!
If you allow the app to access your location even if you are offline, you can also search for restaurants “nearby.” So, for example, if you search “coffee nearby,” it gives you a list of cafes within a range of around 500 meters.
An Instagram post of model-foodie Isabel Daza has her saying that she uses the app just to read menus.
True enough, the restaurant listings in Booky, though not all, also have the menu and prices handy. If you’re paying for dinner, this app is your friend!
When you have finally decided where to eat, you can also click Navigate, then the app goes to Waze to direct you to your destination. (You will need to be online for Waze, though.)
The app having been created for a community of food lovers, just like Waze, it allows you to report incorrect information and share details on Facebook. From the info from the community, it also gives a listing of the “most booked” restaurants.
It’s no wonder that the app is really catching on. I was earlier informed that Booky now has 35,000 monthly active users but Ben corrected this info because today, he has over 50,000 monthly active users!
To keep up, Ben has a team of 25 just updating the database, finding new restaurant openings, and working on the blog, the Booky Report.
The website is pretty impressive as well, with over 750,000 active monthly users.
As a business model, I asked Ben how he earns from this, since the app is free. Apparently, it works like Spotify (the app that gives listeners “free music”) wherein you can sign up for free but for a premium, you get even more deals.
With Booky, for P199/month, you can get Booky Premium, which gives you access to discounts to a lot of restaurants.
The number of food lovers in the Philippines is also astounding. Ben notes that through the app, around 2,000 bookings are made each week. And this number continues to grow. The economy under Aquino must be doing well, after all.
I have a feeling I am going to be hooked on this app.
Honestly, I would purchase anything Iza Calzado promotes, by sheer virtue of her beauty and appeal, but this is a really handy product. Try it.
It is downloadable on iOS and Android.
Look for the orange icon.