FoodieQuest is an app in the making that wants to turn the craze for taking photos of food — second only to the selfie in the photo-sharing hierarchy — into a sticky social game. The app, being demoed in alpha form at startup alley here at TechCrunch Disrupt, will let users snap a photo of their dinner and then pit it against another dish pic taken by someone else. It’s like hot or not for food — or piping hot/undercooked, to stick with the culinary theme.
Users will be able to compete against friends or any other app user, but all shots are anonymised until you vote on the dish you like the look of best to keep the competition pure. Once you’ve voted, you get to see who took the shot and where it was taken — assuming the snapper tagged it with that info.
The app will also let users extend their foodie gaming network further than direct buddies by befriending other users discovered through the food shots they’ve taken. So it’s also potentially a social network for food obsessives, centred on photo sharing (as most social networks now are).
The gamification elements extends to gathering points, i.e. if your dishes are voted as more appetising than others, and those point in turn up the ante with new types of challenges being unlocked.
Ben Hall, the British founder of the Hong Kong-based startup, said he came up with the idea after seeing how popular taking food photos is in Asia. “Everybody takes pictures of food — or at least, in Hong Kong they do. We want to give people something that’s fun to do with their pictures of food — so rather than just putting one of them on Instagram and then deleting a hundred when they want to speed they phone up we wanted to create this really engaging platform for people to compete with,” he tells TechCrunch.
If you don’t want to play food games, the app will also include an endless feed of food photos to flick through — pushing the “food porn” angle, as Hall puts it. This feed will also be searchable — so you could, for instance, search for shots of food tagged with a particular restaurant name to see a feed of only their food. Or search by city, or food type. Much like apps like Foodspotting.
What’s the business model? The app is going to be free so monetisation is likely to be tied to food outlets, says Hall. “When we have a database of value that is the point when we reach out and say what value can we provide to restaurant groups all around the world,” he says. One idea could be to offer discounts to gamers who play restaurant’s own food challenges, he adds.
The startup, which was founded in August 2012, is backed by around $130,000 in seed funding, from Hong Kong-based incubator Nest. The plan is to beta test FoodieQuest in Hong Kong in late October/early November, before aiming to do a full launch in early December.