6 FOOD TECH STARTUPS BASED IN CHICAGO

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Technology and food are becoming increasingly intertwined, and not just in a creepy Beyond-Eggs kind of way. From unique reservation systems to online product exchanges, these Chicago-based startups push the food experience into the digital realm:

FOR DINERS

TableSAAVY
TableSAVVY is a “real-time, last minute reservation system, focused on moving excess inventory at a discounted rate via web/mobile platforms.” Utilizing the classic economic principle of supply and demand, restaurants can essentially “sell” empty restaurant tables at a discounted price to customers eager for a good deal. Guests pay a $5 transaction fee when booking a reservation under TableSAVVY, and in return, they receive 30% off their meal. One downside? The discount doesn’t apply to alcohol.

GDine
Geared towards the indecisive diner, gDine allows consumers to prepay for a dining experience at exclusively-fixed rates, including a Split-The-Check feature for multiple people. Although it features trendy locations like Frontier and Roka Akor, gDine only has 65 restaurants in Chicago, a fairly narrow selection given how many restaurants exist in the area. Nonetheless, their highly-intuitive interface includes a built-in menu that one can easily scroll through, and diners can receive a full refund if they cancel their reservation up to four hours beforehand–a plus for last minute mind-changers like me.

gdine

FOR RESTAURANTS

Cardoona
Cardoona enables restaurant managers to make better purchasing decisions by monitoring and tracking price lists from their vendors. This may not seem relevant to the diner, but restaurants can significantly increase their profitability by streamlining food purchases, which can easily constitute up to 40% of their total costs.

Food Genius
Food Genius provides comprehensive restaurant menu analyses by categorizing menu items using a “proprietary list of 23,000 ingredients, sensory, preparation techniques and flavors that make up the culinary taxonomy.” Although big data can help restaurants stay relevant in this highly-competitive industry, I wonder how users will balance those insights with creativity and true innovation.

FOR THE COMMUNITY

Every Last Morsel
Scheduled to launch this month, Every Last Morsel is a community marketplace where local growers can use online record-keeping tools and sales outlets to develop their business or hobby. Although the website is not yet live, I have high hopes for this social tool.

MakeItFor.Us
MakeItFor.Us has a Food & Cooking category that connects “Cravers & Makers in a social fresh-food marketplace.” For instance, Person A can request for a zucchini and ricotta galette from smitten kitchen, noting important details such as desired price, quantity, and any special requests. Person B, a budding chef with a knack for crusty cakes, then responds with their price, lead time, and potential discounts. Both parties win, and MakeItFor.Us earns a 20% service fee for facilitating their transaction. Because the service utilizes a button system, you can Request or Make any image you discover on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, or Etsy.