When Joshua Simair orders takeout, he relies on his smartphone. He thinks other young people do the same.
“I can order food off my phone, but I can’t use a phone book,” he said. “I don’t know how.”
Simair is president and co-founder of SkipTheDishes, a Prairie-based tech start-up that enables people to request food for takeout or delivery, online.
The www.skipthedishes.ca website gives users a list of participating restaurants, allows them to peruse the online menu of each and then processes their order. Soon after, they receive a confirmation email with a pickup or delivery time.
SkipTheDishes did a test launch in Saskatoon in September, and on Thursday made Red Deer its second market. Winnipeg was scheduled to become next, today.
“It’s manageable for us to do a great job in cities like Saskatoon, Red Deer and Winnipeg first,” explained Simair, adding that bigger centres like Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will follow.
In the case of Red Deer, about a dozen restaurants have already signed up. Simair said the system appeals to most, because it speeds up the task of receiving and processing orders, and gives them an online marketing tool.
“We introduce them to really the best demographic of customers — it’s 20- to 40-year-olds that are working really hard, that have money and don’t have enough time to get great food.”
Simair, who has worked as an investment banker, is one of about 20 people behind SkipTheDishes. Two of his brothers, both software engineers, are also involved.
Although some large restaurant chains have online ordering systems, it’s tough for smaller independents to access such technology. SkipTheDishes allows them to work together and promote their varied offerings to a larger market than they could individually.
“It’s really tough to find all of this information in one location,” said Simair of the appeal for customers.
They can pay for their food online through SkipTheDishes, or directly to the restaurant at the time of pick-up or delivery. Users can also review their order history to see what and from where they’ve ordered previously.
Customers do not pay a fee for the service, said Simair. Instead, the restaurants are charged an amount based on the volumes of orders processed through SkipTheDishes.
“On tens of thousands of dollars in orders, it essentially costs an extra few hundred bucks.”
Each restaurant has a computer tablet that’s linked into the system, and customers can order via smartphone, tablet or any other computer with Internet access.
Simair is confident the business will attract more local restaurants, and users.
“Right now in tiny Saskatoon we’re getting over 10,000 hits a month.”