Startup sites search local menus, taps

Website Best Dish lets customers vote on the best meals in town. Photo courtesy of Best Dish.

Website Best Dish lets customers vote on the best meals in town. Photo courtesy of Best Dish.

A beer-centric online startup is looking to tap into new markets, and another local tech firm recently launched a venture targeted at a food-focused audience.

Trinkin.com, which was launched in Richmond by four friends in 2013, has plans to expand its beer locating services to Hampton Roads and Washington, D.C.

The company’s website lets restaurants and breweries post what beers they have on tap, allowing users to peruse bar offerings from afar.

“It started out as sort of a happy hour finder years ago, but we ran into ABC laws and pivoted,” Trinkin co-owner Andy Frank said. “We sort of built Trinkin as a place that lets our advertisers say what they have on tap, and on the other side it helps people who like craft beer find beer.”

For about $30 a month, restaurants and breweries can create a profile on Trinkin to advertise their tap list, link to reservation site OpenTable and post events.

Image courtesy of Trinkin

Trinkin lets users see what’s on tap at local restaurants and breweries. Image courtesy of Trinkin.

Premium posts are also available for sponsored content that needs more visibility, like a new beer release. The profile pages are free for curious beverage seekers to use.

“We have a highly targeted audience,” Frank said. “When people come to Trinkin, there’s only one thing they want to know about: beer.”

There are 70 Richmond businesses already on Trinkin, nine from Charlottesville and five in Harrisonburg. The expansion to Washington, D.C. and Hampton Roads is planned for this year, Frank said.

In 2014, Trinkin had 2 million page views for its Richmond site, Frank said. He would not say how much revenue Trinkin generated last year.

Dave Al-Attiyah, a manager at the Betty on Davis, and Christina Kern, the owner of local marketing firm CampFire & Co., are also part-owners of Trinkin. The fourth owner did not want to be identified.

While Trinkin caters to beer lovers, a new site launched in August by Manchester-based Mobelux is catering more to foodies.

Its Best Dish website allows users to vote on the best offerings from local restaurants in different food categories and then displays the results.

“It’s a social network for finding the best food items in your city,” said Johnny Hugel, a producer at Mobelux, which designs and develops apps, websites and other internet-related ventures.

The eight categories available to vote on in Richmond are: fries, burritos, burgers, coffee, barbecue sandwiches, sushi, tacos and pizza.

After initially launching in Richmond, Best Dish expanded to Washington, D.C., where there are four categories available for voting.

“All the content on the site is user-submitted, and we validate the data,” Hugel said. “That helps us to ensure that only proper venues are added to site.”

Hugel said Richmond’s pizza category has received about 200 votes for more than 60 different pizzas. Restaurants and cafes have no influence on the rankings, Hugel said.

The revenue for Best Dish comes from selling sponsorships on the site. Local taco favorite Don’t Look Back in Carytown sponsored the site during its initial launch. The Virginia Wine Expo is a current sponsor.

“Rather than depend on ads that might influence the design of the site, we have large sponsorship bricks,” Hugel said.

Best Dish also gets extra revenue from users that want to being featured on the site with a picture and link.

Hugel said the site is tapping into both the rise of food fanatics willing to go off the beaten path to find good food, as well as more infrequent users who might happen to be searching for the best burger in town.

Like Trinkin, further expansion may be in the works for Best Dish.

“We’ve been taking the past few weeks to evaluate the use of the site and will be releasing updated features in the upcoming months as we look to expand and grow the platform beyond Richmond,” Hugel said.

Website Best Dish lets customers vote on the best meals in town. Photo courtesy of Best Dish.

Website Best Dish lets customers vote on the best meals in town. Photo courtesy of Best Dish.

A beer-centric online startup is looking to tap into new markets, and another local tech firm recently launched a venture targeted at a food-focused audience.

Trinkin.com, which was launched in Richmond by four friends in 2013, has plans to expand its beer locating services to Hampton Roads and Washington, D.C.

The company’s website lets restaurants and breweries post what beers they have on tap, allowing users to peruse bar offerings from afar.

“It started out as sort of a happy hour finder years ago, but we ran into ABC laws and pivoted,” Trinkin co-owner Andy Frank said. “We sort of built Trinkin as a place that lets our advertisers say what they have on tap, and on the other side it helps people who like craft beer find beer.”

For about $30 a month, restaurants and breweries can create a profile on Trinkin to advertise their tap list, link to reservation site OpenTable and post events.

Image courtesy of Trinkin

Trinkin lets users see what’s on tap at local restaurants and breweries. Image courtesy of Trinkin.

Premium posts are also available for sponsored content that needs more visibility, like a new beer release. The profile pages are free for curious beverage seekers to use.

“We have a highly targeted audience,” Frank said. “When people come to Trinkin, there’s only one thing they want to know about: beer.”

There are 70 Richmond businesses already on Trinkin, nine from Charlottesville and five in Harrisonburg. The expansion to Washington, D.C. and Hampton Roads is planned for this year, Frank said.

In 2014, Trinkin had 2 million page views for its Richmond site, Frank said. He would not say how much revenue Trinkin generated last year.

Dave Al-Attiyah, a manager at the Betty on Davis, and Christina Kern, the owner of local marketing firm CampFire & Co., are also part-owners of Trinkin. The fourth owner did not want to be identified.

While Trinkin caters to beer lovers, a new site launched in August by Manchester-based Mobelux is catering more to foodies.

Its Best Dish website allows users to vote on the best offerings from local restaurants in different food categories and then displays the results.

“It’s a social network for finding the best food items in your city,” said Johnny Hugel, a producer at Mobelux, which designs and develops apps, websites and other internet-related ventures.

The eight categories available to vote on in Richmond are: fries, burritos, burgers, coffee, barbecue sandwiches, sushi, tacos and pizza.

After initially launching in Richmond, Best Dish expanded to Washington, D.C., where there are four categories available for voting.

“All the content on the site is user-submitted, and we validate the data,” Hugel said. “That helps us to ensure that only proper venues are added to site.”

Hugel said Richmond’s pizza category has received about 200 votes for more than 60 different pizzas. Restaurants and cafes have no influence on the rankings, Hugel said.

The revenue for Best Dish comes from selling sponsorships on the site. Local taco favorite Don’t Look Back in Carytown sponsored the site during its initial launch. The Virginia Wine Expo is a current sponsor.

“Rather than depend on ads that might influence the design of the site, we have large sponsorship bricks,” Hugel said.

Best Dish also gets extra revenue from users that want to being featured on the site with a picture and link.

Hugel said the site is tapping into both the rise of food fanatics willing to go off the beaten path to find good food, as well as more infrequent users who might happen to be searching for the best burger in town.

Like Trinkin, further expansion may be in the works for Best Dish.

“We’ve been taking the past few weeks to evaluate the use of the site and will be releasing updated features in the upcoming months as we look to expand and grow the platform beyond Richmond,” Hugel said.

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