MealMe has evolved from a social media platform to an application that allows users to compare delivery rates. The founders believe that the transformation sets the company apart, and that it will become a leading food delivery platform.
MealMe was originally launched as a social media app for users to post pictures of their meals. Users could then order the food in the images or book a reservation at the restaurant, according to Matt Bouchner, co-founder of MealMe.
The beta version was released in 2018, but after almost two years, the app had limited users and investors were uninterested in the application. However, after a post on Reddit showing the app’s ability to provide delivery services and fees underneath posts, there was a boom in downloads for the beta. As part of the process, users downloaded TestFlight, which allows the analytics of a beta app to be visualized.
“We knew we were onto something when we convinced random strangers to go out of their way and take 10 minutes out of their life to download this app,” Bouchner said. “It’s not easy to download TestFlight.”
Finding the right model
After the Reddit post, there were 800 to 1,000 beta testers, which then led to investor interviews with startup incubator Y Combinator and seed funder TechStars, neither of which invested due to MealMe’s continuing focus on remaining a social media platform, Bouchner said.
This would lead Bouchner and his co-founder Will Said to go back to the drawing board.
“We thought we should really be more focused on being a search engine, being able to let people find the cheapest food delivery,” Bouchner said. “That’s what we did, we became more focused on that, that was the first page of the app.”
MealMe launched in March 2020 and had a few thousand downloads in its first month and was featured by Apple. Shortly after, MealMe would completely discontinue its social media aspect of the app and focus on pulling information from food delivery services without the need for restaurants to give their information.
TechStars Atlanta provided funding for the rapidly growing food app, which caused Bouchner and Said to think of ways to monetize their app and make the product more seamless, Bouchner said.
“We made ‘Check Out at MealMe,’ allowing users to check out on any food delivery app through our app,” Bouchner said. “So whether a customer uses Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Waitr, Seamless, you name it, it’s on MealMe.”
That version launched in September of 2020.
MealMe is also looking to expand into other industries, such as groceries and home-cooked meal services.
“The future of MealMe is to expand our search engine into all food services, including grocery delivery, home-chef meals and ghost kitchens,” according to the company.
MealMe has also worked with fraternities and social groups at universities, attempting to assess what they like and what they would want from the application, Bouchner said. This would lead them to launch with these universities and team up with school newspapers to promote the service to college students.
“Our goal is to be the number one app for food,” Bouchner said.