New online food delivery startup opens in Durham
BringMeThat.com, an online food delivery startup, is now operating in North Carolina, providing users with hundreds of menus online to order food delivery without using a phone.
The website consolidates local menus in one place and allows people to order and pay online without calling the restaurants directly, for a small fee that is reflected in the higher prices charged on items when ordering through the website. Started in New York by Michael LaMarca and Jason Liang, the website currently offers the take-out delivery middle-man service in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and now North Carolina. The company came to Durham after receiving a $50,000 grant from the Triangle Startup Factory technology accelerator—located in Durham—according to a BringMeThat press release.
“We wanted to enter areas that haven’t had an online delivery service like this already,” Liang said. “We knew that in North Carolina there were not as many opportunities. Trying to set up in North Carolina happened to be a good place we could launch our second market.”
So far, 1,459 restaurants in North Carolina are listed on the website. 80 are specific to Durham, including chains such as Jimmy Johns and Domino’s Pizza as well as local staples like Parker & Otis and Ninth Street Bakery. In addition to the full menus of the locations, BringMeThat also lists minimum order amounts, delivery fees and notes such as “catering only.”
Users must create an account to order but do not need to provide anything other than an email address. An online chat box provides the website’s visitors with an opportunity to ask questions about the process.
Liang explained that the draw of online ordering is mostly to save the time it takes to make a full phone call which often involves being put on hold. He also noted that the website saves the customer information and preferences to make future ordering easier.
“It’s more convenient if I’m studying and I want to place my order quickly,” said sophomore Charles Leo about ordering online. “With a phone, they often put you on hold and it takes a long time.”
Liang noted that while BringMeThat did not have a primary demographic in mind at first, they have since noticed that “congregated” spaces such as college campuses and hotels tend to order delivery more.
“College students are so busy,” Liang said. “[But] almost every single person has ordered delivery at some point—everyone has to eat.”
Currently the website accepts all major credit cards but paying with DukeCard or cash is not an option. Although, students can still order online using food points at the Duke-based student run website Radoozle, which provides online ordering at seven local restaurants.
What makes BringMeThat different from other online ordering systems is the combination of many different restaurants’ information onto one streamlined website, Liang said.
“A lot of places partner [with restaurants] one by one,” he said. “What is unique about us is…we have written algorithms… so we don’t have to email all restaurants individually. [We’re] kind of like an aggregator of menus. We’ll be able to get a lot of restaurants that way.”
The Triangle Startup Factory facilitates a three-month mentorship program for the startups they accept. Program members receive $50,000 upfront and are eligible for up to $150,000 of additional support. Usually no more than five or six startups are accepted at one time, allowing for more individual attention and mentorship for each company, Liang said.
BringMeThat applied to the Triangle Startup Factory in January, shortly after the business was founded.
“We looked for accelerators both for the money and the mentorship and advice we get,” Liang said. “That [Triangle Startup Factory] was a great opportunity for us.”
Ted Conner, vice president of economic development and community sustainability at the Durham Chamber of Commerce, noted the positive impact that the Triangle Startup Factory has had on the local economy and the group’s successful interactions with the Chamber.
“We support and tweak the structure, try to help them as they develop and try to commercialize their products,” Conner said. “[We can] take advantage of the creativity and help them progress. We hope to do more in the future.”
BringMeThat plans to launch services in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, after which they plan to “close out” the North and Southeast markets.
“In terms of our service, we will always be in North Carolina,” Liang said. “We’re looking to automate in the future… and eventually partner with the restaurants so we don’t have to charge [a fee]."