Sareen

At the Startup Riot event in Seattle earlier this week, Chewsy wowed the crowd with a new mobile app that’s designed to solve a nagging problem: What should you order at the local restaurant?

The 9-month old company — led by founders Trevin Chow, Rob Jarrett, Herman Man and Chaitanya Sareen — took home top honors at the all-day startup pitch session and won several free hours of venture capital consultation as a result.

That could prove especially useful for Chewsy, a bootstrapped startup which faces a growing set of competitors. (Just this week, a new entrant by the name of Forkly emerged).

We chatted with Sareen, a 33-year-old Microsoft senior product manager, to find out why he thinks Chewsy will become the crème de la crème in how restaurant goers choose their meals.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Chewsy changes the way you eat out by focusing on dish reviews. Discover great food and share recommendations with friends.”

Inspiration hit us when: “We were in search of good Buffalo wings in Seattle and it dawned upon us that nobody lets people rate dishes instead of restaurants. The search for those wings continues.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrapped for now. It was the fastest way to get something out there and to see the customer reaction.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We bring a lot of product experience to the table and we’re eager to keep learning. We each are fortunate enough to have over ten years of experience building software such as Azure, Xbox Live, the Microsoft online store, Office and Windows. Oh, and we’re really hungry.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “An aggressive Beta program and a soft launch helped us address the initial chicken and egg problem of crowd-sourced models. Tens of thousands of reviews later, you can find Chewsy rated dishes in many major cities in the U.S.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We should have embraced Facebook login earlier. We were worried about all those privacy concerns people were talking about, but our customers preferred not having to create a new account. Yes, it is good to save customers’ time.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner:  “We love Jobs for his fanatic focus on user experience. However, we’ll have to go with Gates for his vision, his drive and his unparalleled business acumen. Working to save millions of people and donating almost all his money to bettering the lives of others gives him major bonus points too.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “We look over at the next table and we always see a customer using Chewsy.”

Rivals should fear us because:  “We love to disrupt the status quo and we try to have a unique point of view on everything we do.”

We are truly unique because: “Chewsy is different because we focus on food reviews instead of restaurants and we’ve pursued some distinct social features. Social isn’t just about slapping a Facebook or Twitter logo on your product. We want to do something more that mimics real-life social experiences.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “The static friction of building a new community from scratch. We have a long way to go, but we think we’re heading in the right direction.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Passion, passion, passion: make sure you have it, radiate it and draw upon it when you hit those hurdles.”

Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Seattle area startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out the questions above, send a couple photos of the founder(s) and company logo to tips@geekwire.com. Past profiles can be found here.

Comments

  • Guest

    Congratulations and best of luck to Chewsy! I too have cravings for specific foods and all too often Yelp offers no help. Most of the reviews for downtown restaurants focus on happy hour and chocolate-flavoured martinis, not the foods I consume.

  • Earth2mark

    You are trying to solve my exact problem..I have never found a good wing joint in Seattle or San Diego. I think there must be one somewhere, but where?

    • http://trevinchow.com/blog Trevin

      In Seattle they still allude us, but we have heard of a few places we haven’t tried yet. Trust me, when we find then in Seattle, you’ll see a Chewsy review plastered all over Twitter and Facebook :)

    • http://trevinchow.com/blog Trevin

      In Seattle they still allude us, but we have heard of a few places we haven’t tried yet. Trust me, when we find then in Seattle, you’ll see a Chewsy review plastered all over Twitter and Facebook :)

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