The Xcheapskate website is designed to help diners find the restaurant with the most inexpensive meals in a way that goes beyond what is available on existing sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon, or by searching with Google.
At the recent Demo Day for companies in the pilot program for WMU Starting Gate participants, Founder Daniel May said the web site he and David Selden have developed over the past 18 months was inspired by being "a college student and broke."
Mays wanted a site that made bargain dining as easy as possible.
Using Xcheapskate, someone looking for a place to eat can go the site, enter the type of food they are hungry for and the price range they are seeking. When they press search Xcheapskate will show them the number of such items in the area, the number of restaurants at which it is available, and where they are located.
For example, as part of the demonstration May searched for an item in the $2 to $5 range and found there were 18 such items to eat, available at eight different dining establishments.
If the person using the site then chooses where they want to eat and goes to the restaurant page they can find information such as appropriate attire, type of cuisine served, and full menus.
May, a WMU finance and management major, demonstrated different features of the site, including one for families that showed the average price of menu items, so a parent could gauge about what a bill might come to if they decided to patronize a specific restaurant.
Another allows for ratings of specific menu items. May explained rating of individual items helps when a restaurant, which might be known to have a strong menu, still has some items that don't measure up, so for someone ordering those items the restaurant's reputation would be misleading.
Xcheapskate also shows the location of restaurants being searched for using MapQuest. Restaurants mapped on the site are color coded so users can easily see the type of food, such as Chinese or Mexican, that is served.
Other aspects of the site still are being developed. May said he and his business partner expect Happy Hour information to draw more people to the Xcheapskate site. Work also is being done to develop a mobile version of the site.
As Xcheapskate is further developed local businesses will have the opportunity to send targeted notifications to those using it, giving them a chance to let customers know about special deals or menu changes. Eventually, that also will be the way the company raises revenue. And it is hoped restaurants will want to take up the responsibility for updating the site as their menus change. Currently, information on the site comes from restaurant websites found online.
For restaurants to be willing to keep the site updated, Xcheapskate will have to demonstrate that it has a substantial user base, May said.
"To help Xcheapskate move forward we need as many people as possible using it when they are out," May said.
He said they also are interested in getting feedback from users of the site
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: WMU Starting Gate Demo Day