Mobile

Brightkite founders launch Forkly, a fun app for foodies

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A new food-focused app called Forkly brings the discovery of delicious dishes to center stage — and it’s a beautiful stage, indeed. The app, which is currently on the iPhone but coming soon to Android, is the latest venture from Brady Becker and Martin May, formerly known as the founders of location-based service Brightkite.

Becker’s goal in creating Forkly is to give foodies a way to take pictures of good meals, describe specific items they truly love, rate dishes and share their favorite food finds on social networks. As it gathers this data, Forkly maps out a taste graph for each user and makes recommendations on what other dishes and drinks they should try; this feature is the core of what makes Forkly unique.

Also interesting is the Want button. You can use the app to “want” items at restaurants, and when you’re near one of the locations relevant to your “want” list, the app will remind you to pop in and try that dish you’ve been craving.

Here’s a brief demo showing off some of the app’s features:

Competitors in the space abound, from the already popular Foodspotting to the newly launched Spoondate. Both of these services also put a focus on identifying, recommending and trying specific dishes at great local restaurants.

“For apps like Foodspotting, the photo is the main focus,” Becker told VentureBeat. “In Forkly, the photos are optional; we’re all about capturing your tastes and making use of those opinions. By understanding your likes and dislikes, Forkly helps you discover new places and will show you what’s good once you’re there.”

The app also allows top users to become influencers for specific items and places. Forkly is building out tools for bloggers (to embed and share their food adventures), brands (to tout their best-loved products) and restaurants (to connect with repeat patrons and find new ones).

One of the startup’s initial restaurant partners is Cholon Restaurant in Denver. “We’re using the Forkly API to power their online menu, complete with official photos,” said Becker.

“For brand partners like GreatDivide Brewery,” he continued, “we set them up with official photos and descriptions of their offerings. We’re using taste and influence information to inform some early personalized promotion strategies.”

Both restaurants and food and beverage brands will soon get a Forkly-powered a set of tools “to help them understand those who draws the most influence, track it through the social graph and allow them to market where it counts the most,” Becker said, hinting that this suite of tools would be the backbone of Forkly’s revenue model.

Becker and May’s last app, though no longer widely considered a contender for the lion’s share of the location based social network market, was still a success by Silicon Valley standards. Brightkite was launched in 2007 as a Boulder-based TechStars company, and it exited in 2009 with an acquisition by Limbo. Altogether, the company took around $1.5 million before its sale. Brightkite was briefly headquartered in Burlingame, Calif., but the team has relocated back to Colorado, Colo. to work on Forkly.

The Brightkite experience informed some of what Becker and May are doing with Forkly. “During Brightkite, we did notice a plethora of food and drink photos floating by in the stream around meal times. I think noticing this had some influence on this project…

“The experience of launching a product, it’s ridiculously hard work, but we’re hooked. It feels good to launch a new app.”