Q&A: Where shall we go for dinner?

This week we chat to we speak to Bennet Dalton, founder of PING, a food discovery app that leverages augmented reality to offer recommendations on places to eat by respected foodies. Designed so that qualified food influencers can be invited to upload and curate their own maps and recommendations of their favourite places to eat and drink around Melbourne, Ping provides a reliable, accessible, and easy platform for users looking for new and exciting dining options through the adoption of a geospatial approach.

Since launching just late last year, Ping has already established itself in the market, amassing over 2000 recommendations across more than 170 maps in its first month of operations.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced getting the business off the ground, and how did you overcome it?

BD: The hardest thing has been being able to focus 100 per cent of my attention on developing an app and building a company, while still be able to pay rent and keep a roof over my head. Classic for any start-up, we got pretty used to counting our coins on a Sunday night!

ISB: How does Ping stand out from the other food recommendation apps and sites?

BD: Ping doesn’t use a public review system as other food discovery apps/sites do. We use hand-picked foodies to create lists of their favourite places. For example, “Favourite rooftops bars in Melbourne”. This means that each recommendation on Ping is going to be a goodie, and it eliminates the need for negativity. No more one-star bandits.

ISB: I understand the app uses Augmented Reality, please expand briefly on how this works in practical terms?

BD: Think PokemonGo, but instead of lurking creatures appearing on your camera, Ping shows you the exact way to amazing cafes, restaurants and bars. When you click on a curated map, you can launch into the augmented reality mode, and see exactly where you want to go in a fun and interactive way. It’s great for the CBD where things get hectic. It adds to the excitement of discovering somewhere new to wine and dine.

ISB: How did you go about attracting food established bloggers to be involved with the project, and how important is their role?

BD: Their role is fundamental to Ping, without them we would be much the same as any other food discovery app that gives priority to the restaurants that are willing to pay the most. We garner the relationship we have with our curators and it gives them the ability to further develop their brand, their blog and strengthens their relationship with their followers. We initially reached out to the top Melbourne foodies that we thought would be an amazing fit with Ping, and now they’re starting to reach out to us. So we’re really happy about that.

ISB: Ping has initially launched in Melbourne, how do you see the business expanding and developing in the next couple of years?

BD: We’re using Melbourne as a way to find our exact fit in the market. There’s arguably one of the best food scenes here in the world, so what better place to start? We plan on expanding across Australia in 2019, and then we want to tackle the US market come 2020! Exciting times ahead…

ISB: Finally, What is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to those with a passion they’d like to turn into a business?

BD: Focus on the very next step and complete it. Then focus on the next one.

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