By David Silverberg
Josh Walters describes his company’s business as a win-win for both customers and clients. The mobile app Feedback lets users browse time-specific deals from close to 250 Toronto restaurants, and purchase meals at up to 70 percent off the original price. Restaurants and cafes sell food they would otherwise throw in the trash.
At more than 20,000 downloads, the app features deals such a 22 percent off a Z-Teca burrito or half off a pho dish at Pho Vistro. Users can search for a restaurant by name or filter their choices by areas on a Toronto map. Once they want an item, they buy it via the app and have a specific time window to claim the food or drink from the restaurant.
Clients include Pai, Freshii, Kupfert & Kim, Pita Pit, Noka Sushi, Ali Baba, Kenzo Ramen and many more. The restaurants are located mainly downtown, south of St. Clair.
With little marketing push, Feedback has become popular thanks to “people realizing they can be proud of sharing news about an app that helps fight food waste,” Walters says.
A percentage of each meal’s sale goes to Second Harvest, a charitable organization for “food rescue and redistribution,” as its site says.
Feedback’s business model is centred on taking a commission out of every completed sale, which is built into the item price.
Walters and his team, which include his cousin, co-founder Ben Walters, have already enjoyed some early success: Feedback was one of the winners at the Creator Awards, a program sponsored by WeWork doles out $20 million to entrepreneurs over the course of a year. WeWork gifted the company with office space at their Yonge and Bloor streets HQ, which Walters says “was huge for us.”
Working out of Toronto is ideal for Feedback, due to “the many great restaurants downtown,” he notes. “We become invested in the stories of these restaurants, which may be franchises or mom-and-pop outlets.”
They plan to expand across Ontario and into larger cities across Canada. “Food waste is a huge problem everywhere, not just in Toronto,” Walters adds.
While many new foodie startups focus on delivery, Walters says Feedback is “laser-focused on our value proposition with pickup. Delivery can be costly and difficult to manage.”
As to how Walters finds working on the startup with a family member, he says. “My cousin and I get along great and have always talked about entrepreneurial ideas. Since he comes from a management consultant background, while I came from a more scientific background as a biology graduate at Queen’s, he’s been a big help. He really knew how to get the company off the ground running.”
Walters never feels too overwhelmed, he adds. As much as he has to do, he’s learned to delegate responsibly and remarks how “it’s fantastic to have a supportive office culture where everyone is wearing multiple hats.”
Photos: David Silverberg