How many times, a craving for a particular dish hit you in a new city, but you didn’t know where it was served the best? While there obviously are numerous ‘food discovery; and ‘delivery’ services — which are more of — honestly — online menus of physical restaurants, you still don’t really get just the right friendly advise on which place serves the best butter chicken, or what is the speciality of a particular food joint.
Thats where this intelligent new, A.I. powered foodie chat assistant Quinto caught our eye. While its practically our job to meet startups wherever we go, Quinto has by far been one of the most interesting concepts we’ve come across.
On how he and his colleagues developed this chat assistant, Sahil and Hrishikesh tell me,
Even though other platforms like Zomato and Burrp existed, along with a lot of food blogs like mine, the users were not finding the answers they were looking for.
That’s when that ‘Eureka’ moment happened. They rolled out Quinto in August 2014 as a mobile app which helped people search for dishes with crowdsourced ratings and find stuff like “Where’s the best biryani in Pune?” or “What should I order at Minus 18 Degrees?”.
Today, there are many people who eat out two to three times a week, but are mostly limited to a handful of places that they’ve grown accustomed to. Quinto helps to make the “eatingout scene” more vibrant by helping people explore and step out their comfort zones.
With modern tech based features like crowdsourced ratings, a simple chat-based interface, and the usage of AI to personalize recommendations as per the user’s taste preferences, Quinto simplifies the food discovery for everyone and play the role of a perfect foodie friend.
How Does It Work
They say Simplicity is the ultimate Sophistication and Quinto perfectly emerges as that simplified yet sophisticated food discovery experience. You just open the app, Quinto introduces itself to you like any other friend would, and you can start asking stuff right away. No signups and no terms & conditions to accept.
So if you are in Mumbai and you need to have a cold coffee, just chat with Quinto like you are normally chatting with a friend over Whatsapp, and it will give you customized selected destinations for you to enjoy a cold coffee.
As you begin to use Quinto more often, it starts adapting itself to your personal tastes and choices and gives you recommendations — tailored to you and your taste preferences. For that purpose, Sahil tells me that they are looking to collect as much user data as possible, and ultimately use Machine learning to bring Quinto closer to being a real foodie friend of yours.
What Sets Quinto Apart From Other Food Discovery Platforms
We see many food discovery platforms these days functioning along largely similar lines. They give you information about the nearest restaurants or places to have particular set of dish or drinks. In a nutshell, most food discovery platforms today are sort of an online menu of every restaurant out there. And while that is obviously a step-up from scouting restaurants physically, these discovery platform — in my sole personal opinion — have failed to evolve.
Majority of these services in this space are still simply a directory, with user reviews attached to them in a manner that you have to sift through yourself to make sense. Add it to a number of filter options based on a number of factors and you need to spend a considerable amount of time to look for what you need.
In case of Quinto though, you simply have a conversation rather than tapping away on a tiny search box and selecting filters. And unlike asking a real life friend where you’d have to wait for a response or even unlike researching for a considerable time to discover a restaurant, Quinto is instant, since it’s automated. It gives you recommendations — tailored to you and your taste preferences.
Currently available on Android and iOS, Quinto is built upon a solid foundation of modern technology powered by Artificial Intelligence. And if you are not really an A.I. person, here’s a one-liner that sums it up — the more you use it, the more it becomes responsive and gives you accurate recommendations.
However this is just the beginning.
Makers of Quinto are also exploring the possibility of furthering their use of machine learning to better understand the universe of food & drinks and how recommendations can be tailored to individuals to the extent, that a North Indian be never suggested a Butter Chicken that’s made Maharashtrian-style, which is slightly on the sweeter side — not what they usually like.
As of now though, due to dearth of user data (since the app is relatively new and just launched), Quinto’s team is relying on existing data on the internet to expand Quinto’s dataset. They scrap the internet for a dictionary of words to look for – dishes, tastes, sentiments, etc. to be able to identify the correct data.
So if someone tweets on the lines of “I had an awesome mutton biryani at Nawab Asia” – the system identifies ‘mutton biryani’, ‘Nawab Asia’ and ‘awesome’ from it. Clearly, there’s a lot of manual work being put in it to train the system for now, but they soon expect to further automate the working of Quinto by these efforts.
The Road Ahead
Quinto currently offers its services in Mumbai and Pune and for a while it plans to remain like that. The makers are currently focusing on Pune & Mumbai to get customer traction and be able to keep a good rate of engagement with them.
They want to spend time getting the recommendations right for now and develop Quinto further, rather than go for a no-sense, full throttle launch in other cities — a trend most Indian startups are blindly following. They recently raised an undisclosed amount of funding in seed round from Jaydeep Barman of Faaso’s.