Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hapibelly aims to give mobile solution for going out

San Diego-based Hapibelly wants to bring restaurants into the mobile age.
Ben Karst, co-founder and vice president of product development at Hapibelly, said the idea for the app came from observing the disconnect between customers and restaurants in the social age. 

 “When you walk into a restaurant, it seems a lot of people are looking down at their phones and checking things while being handed paper menus,” he said.  “There is a kind of disconnect, and we felt that by putting a menu on the phone it would mesh with today’s culture.”

 Restaurants that have  online menus  can be automatically added to the network, and restaurants can also go to and submit a request to sign up and help manage their menu and happy hour information.

 The iPhone Hapibelly app has been available for a couple of months and can help users:

  • Find happy hours and daily specials in your area
  • Search local restaurants and view their detailed menu
  • Post a “Hapibelly” to recommend a favorite menu item
  • “Follow’ favorite restaurants and be notified when they change their menu

Karst says the app separates itself from other restaurant apps in the sense it reflects the positive experiences of users. “We want people to feel happy while using their app, and having the whole experience of positivity,” he said.  Like Facebook, users of Hapibelly are sharing what menu items they like. With the app, users can take a picture, write a description of the food and post  their “Hapibelly” on social media. 

 While the one to five star review is typical for other restaurant review services like Yelp and Google,  Karst said Hapibelly is driven by the conviction that people want to know what to order, not what to avoid. 

 If users experience a problem at the restaurant, they can report a problem with the app, and that information will be directed to the restaurant by Hapibelly staff, Karst said. He said restaurants get value from that, much more than one-star Yelp review which can tank a business that is not established.

 “Hapibelly crowdsources those menu items that are popular, and that’s the core meaning of the Hapibelly,” he said.

 The app allows users to see all the restaurants near them, and the app allows searching by cuisine, by wifi availability, TV availability, search by daily specials and happy hours. The app provides directions to each list restaurant,  said. 

  Coming categories may include a measure of what restaurants are busy at the moment and a utility that will help friends decide on where to meet when they go out, he said.

 While the app features other U.S. cities, Hapibelly is primarily building out from the California market, including San Diego and San Francisco. 

 Most people are using the app to find the nearest happy hour and then using it to crowdsource popular menu items.

 Over the next six to twelve months, Karst said he would love to see more restaurants engaged in helping to manage changes in their menus and pushing the download of the app. 

 Karst said that the app for Android phones will be developed after the model is fine-tuned for the iPhone.