Spotluck CEO Cherian Thomas on bringing his popular dining app to Long Beach
Introduced within the Washington D.C. area three years ago, the Spotluck app has since become the #1 dining app on iTunes. Spotluck has since launched within the New York area, now partnering with 400 local restaurants. As of last month, Spotluck got even more local, bringing 11 restaurants from Long Beach on-board, including the Jetty Bar & Grill, Lido Kosher Deli, Swingbellys BBQ, the Speakeasy, and Sherry Blossom.
Much like Uber or Priceline, Spotluck turns dining out into a game, giving the app's users a chance to "spin" for a discount. It does not require a membership or a coupon to activate that discount. It includes the menu of each restaurant, and whenever possible, photos of the restaurant's food. Only locally-owned dining spots are included on the Spotluck app, ensuring that small businesses get their due.
On behalf of No Place Like Long Island, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Spotluck's CEO Cherian Thomas. Generously, Thomas provided an exclusive discount code -- that's "NOPLACE" (no quotes) -- to ensure further discounts to No Place readers. More on Spotluck can be found online at www.spotluck.com.
Where did the idea for Spotluck come from?
Cherian Thomas: It was a bet on dynamic pricing and gamification. This is the future! We saw companies like Uber, Priceline and Hoteltonight mastering dynamic pricing in their respective industries, and realized the similar yield management solutions could apply to the restaurant space. We developed software that changes discounts for restaurants based on day, time, weather and other factors that impact occupancy.
As far as gamification, we saw consumer trends leaning towards instant gratification. Rather than offering the traditional “encyclopedia” style restaurant directory UX, we introduced the spin! Here, we solve a recurring problem that appeals to the masses. Everyone argues about where to eat, now there’s a solution -- Spotluck!
How would you describe Spotluck to someone who hasn't yet used it?
Cherian Thomas: Spotluck is food, fun, and local. Rather than arguing about where to eat in, just spin! You get one spin per day and our recommendation engine will pick a great local spot for you. The restaurant you land on will provide the largest discount -- up to 35% off -- but you can always get 10% everywhere else for supporting local.
Spotluck just added nearly a dozen restaurants from Long Beach. What drew you to Long Beach? Have you spent much time in the area?
Cherian Thomas: We’re live throughout the East Coast and launched Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Hoboken a few months ago. We received several emails from Long Islanders asking to bring Spotluck to here and so we gave the people -- and local restaurants -- what they want. Andrew Massetti heads up our Spotluck NYC expansion and also lives in Long Island. His roots to the local area combined with the cyclical flow of peak/off-peak restaurant traffic in Long Beach made Long Island a no-brainer.
What is coming up for Spotluck in the near-future?
Cherian Thomas: More restaurants and new neighborhoods within Long Island are already underway. We’ve also introduced new gamification features such as spinning to win restaurant gift cards and claiming special offers for free food/drinks in the area from within the app.
When not busy with Spotluck, how do you like to spend your free time?
Cherian Thomas: I recently had my first child, so spending time with family is always number one. Outside of family and Spotluck, I enjoy running while crushing books on tape.
Finally, Cherian, any last words for the kids?
Cherian Thomas: I recently delivered the 2017 commencement speech at Hood College. I encourage entrepreneurs -- or anyone thinking about starting a business -- to give it a watch.