The new Snackpass social meal app is already trending in 2020 due to making the food ordering process more affordable and convenient by letting users skip the line, earn loyalty reward points, get discounts and send gifts to friends easily.
In its most stripped-down and basic sense, Snackpass can be thought of as a mobile app that allows users to order food in advance from a whole host of local vendors and cafes. However, what’s unique with the “social is our sauce” platform is that it offers customers a host of perks that are specific to each individual seller — such as free coffees, fries or smoothies.
The Snackpass social food project is the brainchild of Yale alumni Jamie Marshall, Kevin Tan, and Jonathan Cameron, over the course of the past 3-4 years, it has become one of the most sought after food ordering apps amongst university students across the United States. This is in part thanks to the Snackpass’s ability to let users accrue loyalty points that can later be redeemed in exchange for free food or other similar benefits — both for themselves or as gifts for their family and friends.
Also, it bears mentioning that sending Snackpass rewards to one’s colleagues and friends has recently become a sought after way of initiating conversations, flirting or expressing one’s gratitude among college students across the country. Not only that, but Snackpass’s social feed has also become extremely popular with many students since it allows them to discover new restaurants (located around them) as well as communicate with their friends with the touch of a button.
Talking about what makes his platform so unique and exciting, CEO and co-founder Kevin Tan recently told media outlet TechCrunch the following:
“Anywhere someone is standing in line to order something, we can solve that with Snackpass”
SnackPass is here to stay
Since its inception in 2016, Snackpass’s popularity has gradually soared across the United States — so much so that the app has now become a staple across 11 different college campuses in the country. From a more technical standpoint, we can see that Snackpass currently boasts of a 75% penetration rate amongst students (that too within a short period of just 180 days).
In regards to how the app works, it basically takes a small percentage of every order that is processed through it. This helps in keeping margins high because users are required to pick up the food themselves rather than waiting for a delivery person to drop off their orders. Additionally, while a whole host of food ordering startups (such as UberEats, MenuLog) offer their customers with meal deals, Snackpass keeps its clients coming for more though the use of its novel loyalty program.
From a financial standpoint, it is worth mentioning that owing to Snackpass’s recent success, the company now plans on expanding its services from college campuses to various cities across the U.S. To help fulfill this dream, Tan recently revealed that his firm was able to secure a $21 million Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz partner Andrew Chen. To be a bit more specific, we can see that the funding round was also supported by other big-name players such as Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Inspired Capital and First Round. If that wasn’t enough, Snackpass also found backing in the form of various angel investors including famous personalities such as:
- Rapper/Musician Nas
- NFL star Larry Fitzgerald
- Famous American talent scout Michael Ovitz.
In a recent conversation with Tan, he highlighted that Snackpass’ $2.7 million seed money will be used to hire additional personnel so as to make the company’s goal of reaching 100 campuses within the next 24 months a living reality. He then proceeded to add:
“Takeout is an important market because it’s huge — also in the hundreds of billions — and fragmented. The opportunity complements the food delivery market in a big way: For the average restaurant, there are 6 takeout orders for every delivery order!”
How does a food app go viral? By letting you gift your loyalty points as a new way to flirt. Order ahead app Snackpass is blowing up on college campuses pic.twitter.com/j7UgBo8ixn
— Josh Constine (@JoshConstine) December 19, 2019
Humble origins to lofty goals
Just like a host of other amazing startup ideas, Snackpass also came into existence when founders Jamie Marshall, Kevin Tan, and Jonathan Cameron discovered that sourcing high quality, affordable food at Yale (their alma mater) was not only slow but also extremely expensive. Not only that, ordering smaller food items (such as coffees, ice creams or a slice of pizza) using regular food delivery apps was nearly impossible.
It was this difficulty that prompted Tan to create a platform that allowed restaurants situated around college campuses to retain and reward customers in a streamlined, hassle-free manner.
To bring his vision to fruition, Tan teamed up with neuroscientist and Thiel Fellow Jamie Marshall, who eventually went on to become Snackpass’ COO and Jonathan Cameron, a serial entrepreneur who in the past had already created his very own “order-ahead” app called Happy Hour.
How Does Snackpass Meal App Work?
As mentioned earlier, Snackpass provides customers with a list of nearby restaurants that allow clients to order ahead. Not only that, but the app also lists out all the restaurants that have specials or meal deals on offer using special tags and markers. In addition to this, the app also includes a counter that shows users how many people have ordered a particular item along with the number of reward points that one can earn by ordering that dish.
Some other key facets of Snackpass worth highlighting:
- Payments can be made directly through the app, following which customers can go pick up their food from the restaurant where they had placed their order.
- Each restaurant that is listed on Snackpass makes use of its very own personalized rewards system.
- The system makes use of a novel algorithm that greatly simplifies the otherwise tricky SMB sales process.
- Snackpass users have the option of either spending their accumulated points on themselves or send their loved ones a virtual gift card (that can be redeemed within a certain time window).
- People have the option of blocking individuals who shower them with unwanted gifts.
Every individual purchase or gift made via Snackpass appears on the person’s social media feed — i.e. unless an individual chooses to not make such details public.
Snackpass has made efforts to capture the college market by syncing its offered services with students’ campus meal plans. Additionally, students from various clubs, fraternities have been given the option to pre-load and replenish the accounts of their members in a highly simple manner.
The app can be used to host campus parties, sponsor tailgates — thereby allowing the platform to grow organically across a number of universities across the nation.
The platform makes use of a simple yet elegant user interface that makes ordering food extremely easy and straightforward. Not only that, even the rewards system is quite easy to make use of.
Lastly, talking about the app, Tan told a media outlet recently that people are using Snackpass’s social media features to “flirt with each other, or bond and connect with someone new.”
What Lies Ahead for Snackpass?
Owing to all of the competition that already exists within this niche’ market segment, Tan acknowledges that spikes in restaurant demand can overwhelm kitchen operators at times. Thus, on the issue, he pointed out:
“There is certainly a risk that local restaurants will start to get platform fatigue, finding that using some apps will take too big of a bite out of their margins.”
To counter the above-mentioned problem, Snackpass comes pre-built with certain features that allow restaurants to batch orders as well as control how many orders they receive at any given point of time — especially so that dine-in clients do not have to face any delays.
Additionally, to help streamline their operations, Snackpass’ executive brass have brought on board a number of individuals who have previously worked for food delivery giants such as Uber Eats and Yelp. Not only that, but Tan also stated recently that his startup is planning to make use of analytical data to help participating restaurants improve their service quality as well as make the entire process of ordering food more streamlined. He then went on to add:
“The social aspect of the app has been the key differentiator for us. Eating food is supposed to be fun and social, and our generation grew up online and in social networks. We’re combining the social aspect of eating with the utility of order ahead, which has helped us build loyalty and enable retention amongst our users.”
Even though Snackpass has captured the attention of many students across the United States, the firm still faces an uphill battle when it comes to overtaking rivals such as Allset, Level Up and Ritual. Not only that, the logistics market is extremely competitive these days — so much so that a large number of companies have already failed to garner any sort of traction in the restaurant loyalty space.
With that being said, the fact that Snackpass has been able to secure the backing of a financial juggernaut such as Andreessen Horowitz gives the firm a lot of street cred. Additionally, having a big-name company (like a16z) endorse a startup in this otherwise crowded space is extremely necessary these days for guaranteed future success.
Announcement: a16z x Snackpass for the Series A!
The team has built a killer social food pickup experience, is growing campus-by-campus, and their users just love the product. Really excited to be working with Jamie, Kevin and the team
— Andrew Chen (@andrewchen) December 19, 2019
In closing out this piece, it should be pointed out that in recent years a number of companies like Snapchat, TikTok, and Fortnite have attempted to tap into the youth market by making use of lighthearted, trendy advertising campaigns. Snackpass seeks to do the same but through the use of a novel e-commerce platform. In regards to the matter, Tan recently highlighted:
“We play up creativity, silliness and delight in areas where most companies focus on utility and convenience. We built Snackpass for ourselves and our friends. We’ve carried on this philosophy: if something makes us laugh, we put it in the app.”