IO, one of our European Disrupt Battlefield companies from this year, is today expanding across the pond to open up the beta to New Yorkers. The company developed a product that lets you ask about restaurants in a chat conversation that easily recognizes and speaks in natural language.
When IO first presented at TC Disrupt, it was hard to believe that it was a program and not a human chatting on the screen.
After signing up for IO, users simply start chatting with the ‘social concierge’ to discover the best place to eat. Maybe you want the best burrito in a mile radius, or you need to know a good place to go on a first date. Maybe you’re a vegetarian craving an amazing falafel.
IO understands what you want, no matter how you ask for it, and starts making real-time recommendations that take your feedback and input into account.
These suggestions come in the form of a card, that shows menu info, reviews, hours of operation, location, and contact info. But the service doesn’t stop there.
Once you’re at the restaurant, you can ask what to order and IO will make recommendations on great dishes, complete with photos so you know what to expect.
At the end of a meal, IO will ask you what you thought and offer a few pre-set responses so you don’t have to type out your feedback manually (though you have the option to, if you’d like). This helps IO make smarter recommendations for you.
In the future, IO can generate revenue by picking up affiliate fees from reservations and bookings, sponsored recommendations, or incentive exchanges using discounts or coupons.
IO is also bringing on Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Founders Forum to board as Director.
IO will launch publicly in January to New Yorkers, but for now only 300 new beta users will have a foodie robot friend in their pocket with a direct hookup to 200 restaurants (and plans to get to 2k by December). In mid-December, people on the wait list will be invited to join before the public launch. If you want to be one of them, hit up this link and select ‘sign up for beta’ and login with Facebook to download the app.