A new iPhone and Android app called PayDragon is trying to bring the one-click shopping experience to buying meals on your phone.
The app was created by Paperlinks, a Y Combinator-backed startup that helps businesses create QR code-enabled materials. CEO Hamilton Chan demonstrated PayDragon for me last week, and it sounds like a great fit for anyone who’s trying to grab lunch or dinner while they’re busy — say if they’re frantically trying to finish a blog post, as is so often the case during my meals. Each restaurant has only four to six items on its PayDragon menu, usually its most popular dishes in combo meal form. You tap on the item you want, hit pay, and the order is complete. Then you just wait for the alert saying that your food is ready and head to the restaurant to pick it up.
The idea of ordering food on your phone isn’t new, but Chan says he wanted to create an entirely new experience for the phone, rather than just porting over a Web-based like GrubHub. Hence the stripped-down menus and the lack of customization — it’s all about creating as few barriers as possible to submitting an order. It might not be the best fit for picky eaters, but if you just want that sandwich ASAP, and you don’t want to think too hard about it, it’s perfect. It’s also good for restaurants, especially during the busy periods, because it helps them serve customers much more quickly. (And as a vegetarian, I was relieved to hear that most restaurants are trying to include at least one vegetarian option in their slimmed-down menus.)
Other features include a Discover tab to see nearby participating restaurants and Facebook integration so you can tell your friends about the meal you’ve eaten. There’s one feature that comes out of the app’s connection to Paperlinks — restaurants can also create QR-enabled menus. Customers can scan the item they want and pay with one tap. (That’s something Paperlinks was trying out pre-PayDragon.)
Chan says he tested the concept out at South by Southwest, and is now launching it with Los Angeles food trucks, including The Bun Truck, CambalaCHE’s, Auntie’s Fry Bread, Chunk n Chip, The Grill Sergeant, The Wien, and Rounds Premium Burger.