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Oh, We’re Munching, All Right

Posted By Jillian Wertheim On Sep 1, 2011 @ 8:22 pm In Sandbox | Comments Disabled

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We’re starting to sound like a broken record, what with all of our posts about free stuff [1] and how much we love it, but it seems like our love for bargains trumps just about anything. For reals. When we heard about an opportunity to nab some free ice cream sandwiches [2] earlier in the week, we got so excited that we decided to go straight to the source — the guys behind Munch On Me [3] — to find out what they were all about and why their site was practically throwing free food at us. Not like we’re complaining or anything.

So, for your reading pleasure, we painstakingly transcribed our interview with one of Munch On Me’s co-founders, Jason Wang.

Clog: Let’s start with the basics. Munch On Me has kind of taken off overnight and not a lot of people have heard about it yet. But since Monday or Tuesday it’s made a big splash in Berkeley, so could you tell us a little bit about just what is Munch on Me, and how did you guys get started?

Jason: Sure. Munch On Me is a platform for users to really discover dishes around their neighborhood, and namely in Berkeley, where we target the UC campus, downtown Berkeley, and the Gourmet Ghetto on Northside.

So, we partner with restaurants who want to showcase some of their food and we go in with a photographer to take professional, high-grade photos and a content writer to really write about the food: key ingredients, a review of the dish and about the merchants. And then users would then go on our website (and soon mobile apps, too) and they buy the dish directly from us. And they then get a two to five-digit voucher code that they bring in to the merchant and say that they want to redeem their Munch On Me dish, present the code, the merchant verifies it, then serves the dish. That’s how simple it is.

So, essentially, we’re driving new customers to the merchant and also loyal customers, too. For example, right now, a lot of merchants have those boards you outside their restaurant, like “today’s special” or “weekly special.” So Munch On Me really replaces that marketing solution, because for those boards they put up, only people who walk by or eat at the restaurant can really see it.

Clog: But with Munch On Me the whole internet sees it.

Jason: Right. You can really see the food that the merchant is offering, and go and sample something. It’s really like sample pricing, hence the discount. We do anything from 30 percent to 100 percent off. And sometimes, we don’t even do a discount, but people still buy it because it’s food they’ve never heard of and maybe it’s a secret menu item that a restaurant does through us. Like, we did that with I.B.’s Hoagies — they ran two items with us that are secret menu items.

Clog: Quick question: You say on your website that Berkeley was the natural choice for a launching point. Why is that?

Jason: So, we have four co-founders: Jason Wang, Richard Din, Tony Li and Andy Zhang. We’re all UC Berkeley grads and one dropout, so it just makes sense to start where we started: in Berkeley. It’s a college campus and a foodie town — a lot of good food in Berkeley — so it was natural to start here.

Clog: You were saying that you typically have discounts of some degree, and we know that in the past week, we’ve seen a lot of 100 percent-off discounts. How long is that going to last?

Jason: Two weeks. This week and next week, we’re doing nine items — one item each day. We started with the CREAM, then we did something with Uncle Dougie’s, then Sumo Grub, then Pepe’s Pizza, and tomorrow you’re going to see a new item. And we repeat that next week.

Clog: Any sneak peeks you can give us for the upcoming week?

Jason: Well, I mean, you’re going to probably see a couple beverages … ummm … and some more food.

Clog: Okay, we’ll take it!

Jason: Yup.

Clog: We noticed that on your Facebook page there are over 1,000 people who have “liked” you. Do you really rely primarily on the web to get the word out?

Jason: Yeah, everything is word of mouth — social networking, friends telling friends …

Clog: And have you noticed that that’s successful? Are you surprised with how effectively it’s working?

Jason: Well, we’re not that surprised, because food is inherently social, so people want to share stuff about food all the time. Like you see a lot of people taking photos on their mobile phones and putting it on Facebook all the time, and they’ll see something about food and tend to share it with other people. I mean, you’re typically not going to go to CREAM by yourself — you want to go with a friend, you want to share it with a friend. “Hey let’s go grab a bite after dinner. Let’s go get some dessert at CREAM.” Right?

Clog: Because, as you say, eating is a social activity.

Jason: Yeah, exactly.

Clog: We’ve got one last question: With all these huge discounts and free food, how do you expect any of us in college to actually learn how to cook?

Jason: Well, when I was in college, I actually never cooked.

Clog: Not once?

Jason: Maybe, like, once out of my four years. So my thing was: you go out to eat. Cooking takes a lot of time — you’ve got to go to a grocery store to pick up ingredients, you’ve got to know how to cook, or find someone who knows how (to help you).

And there’s so much good food in Berkeley …

Clog: It’s true. It’s a shame to not take advantage.

Jason: Right. And we want to help people explore food in Berkeley.

We wrapped things up with the usual pleasantries, and post-interview, you’d better believe that the Clog went and got its nom on.

Image Source: Jillian Wertheim

Article printed from The Daily Clog: http://clog.dailycal.org

URL to article: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/09/01/oh-were-munching-all-right/

URLs in this post:

[1] posts about free stuff: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/08/24/dear-freshman-and-junior-transfers-free-stuff/

[2] some free ice cream sandwiches: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/08/29/we-all-scream-for-ice-cream/

[3] Munch On Me: http://www.munchonme.com/

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