Snackpass, a restaurant pickup app that lets consumers order ahead, save money, skip the line and buy food with friends, is now positioned to be a leader in supporting safety efforts and increased sales for reopening restaurants with the launch of their new product, Digital Menus. Digital Menus is the latest addition to the suite of Snackpass contactless solutions joining the company’s consumer app.
Snackpass has been focused on college campuses since its launch, and now in light of the pandemic, the company has seen the need to support these campus communities more than ever. Having deep relationships with both restaurants and consumers in these markets, Snackpass learned quickly that added contactless solutions were necessary to support restaurants and college students as they re-open.
“As cities and states navigate the reopening process after closures due to COVID-19, we understand the importance of providing a contactless solution like Digital Menus for operators to reopen restaurants safely while also driving revenue after a very trying few months for the industry,” says Jamie Marshall, co-founder and COO of Snackpass.
Since launching in late spring, Snackpass has signed up hundreds of restaurants to their Digital Menus service in both current college markets and in many new cities around the country. Inspired by the QR code phone ordering that has become a standard in China, Snackpass founders anticipate this type of ordering, and pickup will be a part of every restaurant transaction shortly. With Digital Menus, customers do not need to download an app. The service is executed by applying QR codes outside the restaurant and at tables inside for smooth, contactless transactions, with easy sign-up for restaurant owners eager to get back to serving customers.
“Particularly in college towns where student living and dining is going to be very different this fall than in previous years, Digital Menus creates a contactless experience to keep both customers and restaurants safe,” adds Jonathan Cameron, co-founder and Head of Partnerships at Snackpass.
After launching their consumer app at Yale University in 2017, Snackpass has established itself as a force on college campuses. It now has a presence at 14+ universities, including UC Berkeley, Brown University, Dartmouth College, University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania while also expanding its offering outside of college towns with a notable restaurant and consumer base in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In the second half of 2020, the company is focusing on increasing its presence in college towns with a goal of reaching 100 college campuses, particularly on the east coast with added schools, such as Rutgers University, Penn State University, and the University of Delaware.
The social element of the Snackpass app has been the brand’s true fueling differentiator, creating organic marketing and built-in networking to benefit restaurants. Friends can see what deals others are taking advantage of and the restaurants they are supporting. Utilizing the rewards points to gift others has also become a relationship starter and builder, as well as a popular way to connect with others while social distancing. Unlike many delivery-focused restaurant apps that charge 30 percent or higher fees to restaurants, the Snackpass model is not driven by high commissions. Instead, Snackpass offers a strong value proposition to restaurant owners, enabling operators to retarget and grow customer loyalty at a much lower cost while driving more revenue through upselling features.
“What we’ve seen is that restaurants who are able to adapt quickly are able to survive in the long run,” says Marshall. “Future generations are going to wonder why we ever waited in line for our food and the challenges created by COVID-19 have caused that transformation of the restaurant experience to accelerate with a decade’s worth of evolution happening in mere months.”
“Mobile is the future and Gen Z has grown up with a mobile-first mentality. We want to be there as a true partner to restaurant owners who are battling to get back to where they were before the pandemic began and help support them in the new landscape ahead,” says Kevin Tan, co-founder and CEO of Snackpass.
Snackpass was founded at Yale University by then-students Tan, Marshall, who is a Thiel Fellow, and Cameron who saw an opportunity to combine pickup and social around college campuses which has helped the startup resonate with Gen Z.
In December, Snackpass announced a $21 million series A funding round led by Andrew Chen at Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from First Round Capital, Y Combinator, General Catalyst, and Inspired Capital. The company currently employs more than 30 people with a college ambassador program of hundreds.
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