Startup pitch: Uptaste helps tourists to find places to eat nearby

Uptaste is a new brand emerging in the competitive tours and activities sector.

The service helps tourists find places to eat around where they are right now. If they are vegan, or travelling with children, appropriate choices are shown.

The service is available for mobile and tablet devices and both iOS and Android.

Content is curated and aims to include the whole range of food experiences not limited to restaurants.

Uptaste is currently London only but it has plans for expansion within Europe and the US.

The company is based in Southampton/London and has been founded by Alex Bainbridge, veteran of the tours and activities sector and Tnooz node.

What problem does your business solve? 

Humans have to eat. Food plays a key part of the memory and overall success of a trip. It can also be a cause of tension when travelling with children or when you have special dietary needs.

Uptaste finds places to eat that are nearby. Most of the time the answer is NOT a restaurant (which is what competitors focus on) but instead could be street food, a local market or an amazing specialist shop. These are often experiences that are memorable.

Secondly, Uptaste solves the problem of post-trip regretting not trying a local food.

Imagine you have gone to a place and they have a local dish that you didn’t know about. You come home and a friend asks “Did you try the……?”. And you didn’t. How annoying!

Uptaste has gamifed the completion of the local primary food tastes – so in London you have to try fish & chips and afternoon tea. A bit like Pokemon Go but for food.

Instead of the end of level monsters that you get on Pokemon Go, we have jellied eels and Tottenham cake.

To prove you have tasted a certain food you take a selfie. Uptaste then uses artificial intelligence on the selfie to analyse the photo to see if you liked the food or not, creating an overall score for each food taste.

We call this a reviewfie (a review/selfie).

The reviewfies also act as a Millennial refresh of the legacy text-based review. They are naturally less friction, less likely to be created fraudulently and more sharable on social media.

The reduction of effort will have a huge bearing on increasing the percentage of uses that are reviewed leading to fairer scores.

Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff? 

Alex Bainbridge, CEO/CTO/investor

The app and back office have been built by Bainbridge while the experience content has been developed by a part-time team of four.

Funding arrangements? 

The startup is funded by Bainbridge from the previous successful sale of TourCMS, the original leader in local tour and activity distribution.

Uptaste will likely be raising money towards the end of 2017.

Revenue model? 

Uptaste trades as a mobile travel agent selling food experiences on commission.

Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?

Travellers will spend money on food twice a day so the question isn’t will they pay for a solution – but who will they trust in order to inform them of where to spend their money. Uptaste is a curated service so we only have the good stuff.

As the saying goes, easy is the new loyalty. Uptaste makes it easy.

External validation?

It is a bit early in Uptaste’s life to show progress or validation however

  • Mobile within travel is on the up
  • Food tourism is on the up
  • Selfies are on the up
  • The tours and activities sector is hot

In short, all the right ingredients are there.

Tnooz view: 

Tours and activities is a hot sector to be in right now but it is not often you see something coming at the sector with a new perspective.

Uptaste aims to be the missing link between the tours and activities vertical and the restaurant sector that TripAdvisor, Priceline and others have already invested in.

Those big players clearly see money in food and restaurants as part of the experience – TripAdvisor acquired La Fourchette in 2014 while Priceline acquired OpenTable about a month later.

As travellers spend money on food Uptaste has a good chance to become a key travel app, especially when it adds more cities.

The challenges will be scale and getting the word out. The reviewfie is a nice and will likely generate a bit of discussion.

One thing is offering tourists a restaurant booking alongside a flight, a hotel, a tour etc. Another is being a niche app trying to get the attention of tour providers.

Partnerships might be a good way forward as will the steady increase of content.

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