Remember when daily deals were all the rage and everyone was looking for the next online coupon? Those days are gone, but a new startup has built a service that offers discounted meals with a twist. Call it a way to reduce food waste. Call it an app for people on a budget.FoodPerkis all of that – and a bit more.

“The original idea of FoodPerk was to help reduce food waste”, says Tomer Amrani, 33, who came up with the concept last year. It’s pretty simple: instead of throwing unsold food items away, restaurants and bakeries can put them up for sale on the app with a discount, usually 25% to 50% off.

Think cakes, slices of pizza and other food items that cannot be sold the next day.

The concept

Amrani started FoodPerk after unloading his previous venture, an app called Wordinaire. This time around, he teamed up with developer Gabriele Cimato and they released the final version of the app only a few weeks ago. It’s fresh off the boat, initially serving only a handful of neighborhoods around Los Angeles.

“Restaurants can use FoodPerk in two ways: one would be just to move any item that cannot be sold tomorrow, anything time sensitive like pastries and bread; and another way would be as a coupon or a flyer,” Amrani tells me. The latter would work as a way to promote a new dish that might not be too popular, for instance.

“People who use FoodPerk are looking for deals that are live at the moment. For a restaurant to go print a flyer and mail it – a couple of weeks go by and it becomes irrelevant”, says the CEO.

For the user, it’s a pretty good deal: everything on the app is discounted and all location-based. Ideally, they recommend reserving an item half an hour before picking it up.

Right now, for instance, Brooklyn Pizza offers 50% off a 4 cheese pasta, while Creamistry is taking 15% off the entire purchase. “The deals are rather ephemeral, they can last anywhere between a couple of hours or until the product itself runs out.”

FoodPerk is adding around 5 new restaurants every week.

“About 80% of restaurants say yes because we do offer a built-in value for them. There’s no commitment, they have nothing to lose, and if they get a user that has never been there or hasn’t returned, it’s a win-win”, he explains.

Pizza joints usually offer more deals, because they can’t be empty when a customer walks in, so they always have a couple of pizzas ready to go by the end of the night. The problem is they might not sell all those pizzas, so they resort to FoodPerk an hour before they close to try to unload those leftover slices.

Groupon with a twist

Is this a Groupon with a twist? He smiles. “We’re a hybrid between GrubHub and Groupon, in the sense that everything that we show is a deal related to food.”

However, Amrani argues that Groupon’s business model won’t necessarily benefit the restaurant, pizza place or bakery.

“Groupon was forcing restaurants to give a specific discount amount and a specific discount quantity, such as 55% off and a deal good for the next 1,000 people who order it”, he says. The problem with those deals is that you can buy it and walk into the restaurant anytime to claim it. “With FoodPerk, the restaurant decides everything on their own. The deal, amount, quantity, and when to launch the deal.” They can push restaurants to use FoodPerk during slow hours and create their own happy hour. “You don’t want someone 50% off taking up a full table.”

Gabriele Cimato adds: “If you think about it, there is no one else out there providing a good source of deals for fresh food," which is a plus for FoodPerk.

"We have great plans for the future, but first, we want to establish something solid that people like.”

The app is available on iOS right now and will be ready for Android users in two months.

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