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For individuals who are passionate about food and want to share meals with their friends/partners, FoodMate is a new mobile application that provides personalized restaurant recommendations according to the group preferences and a seamless in-app reservation/booking/plan-making system. Unlike MeetUp, our app offers recommendations to a group of people—taking into account everyone's preferences—and enables them to enhance social connections and to maximize their restaurant experiences. To help break the social barriers and to discover the hidden gems in the city, FoodMate was born.

Section 1: Vision

For foodies who love to socialize with friends, it’s a constant challenge to find unique restaurants to ensure everyone is satisfied. Every time they want to hang out with friends in a new restaurant, they need to spend hours researching restaurants and coordinating plans in order to create unforgettable experiences. This is especially true if you’re a foodie who organizes dining event for group members with high expectations.

Foodies are often frustrated by the lack of tools available to streamline this process and provide tailored recommendations. Our hypothesis is that FoodMate can help solve this problem by offering a user-friendly platform that generates personalized recommendation for its group and enables easy scheduling for groups. We are personally passionate about this idea because of the potential to save foodies time and effort while enhancing their dining experiences.

Section 2: Problem Statement

Primary Persona

For FoodMate, we’ve come up with 6 types of personas that we want to work with. See Appendix 2: Other potential Personas for full personas list. We choose Abby the Social Foodie as our target persona. Social Foodies are not only passionate about exploring new flavors and culinary experiences but also highly value the communal and bonding aspects of dining. This dovetails with FoodMate's key offerings of personalized group recommendations and its social dining emphasis. These individuals are often part of diverse social circles with varied tastes and dietary needs, precisely the type of group FoodMate's recommendation system is designed to cater to. They frequently plan social dining events, potentially making FoodMate's integrated reservation and plan-making system a vital tool for them. Moreover, their interest in culinary exploration aligns with FoodMate's feature of suggesting hidden gem restaurants. Hence, by targeting the Social Foodie persona, FoodMate is addressing the needs and interests of users who are most likely to appreciate, frequently use, and advocate for the app in their social circles, thereby helping the product to grow organically.

Section 3: User Analysis
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Current User Workflow

There are two user workflows we need to consider:

  1. The social foodie has gathered a group of friends to go out for dinner, but he/she doesn’t know which restaurant to pick.

  2. The social foodie has found a new/hidden gem restaurant and wants to go with friends, but he/she doesn’t know whom to ask. 

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Unmet Needs

The unmet need for the proposed application is the lack of a convenient and efficient way for groups of people to decide on the best restaurant to enjoy together. Planning a group outing can be challenging and time-consuming, especially when everyone has different preferences. Without an app that can provide personalized recommendations based on group dynamics, people often rely on group chat or social media, which can be chaotic and unproductive. Not only does this barrier exist in groups, but also in a more intimate setting such as dating, coffee chats, and/or family time. The innate need of interaction exists in every human being. It is our mission to better assist and facilitate an interesting life for all our users.

The lack of a streamlined process for groups of people to search for and select restaurants that cater to everyone's preferences would make the experience worse. With many people having different tastes and interests, it can be challenging to find a location that suits everyone. Currently, people may have to sift through multiple options, make individual phone calls or inquiries, and manually compare and contrast various choices.

The proposed application aims to fill this gap by offering a user-friendly platform that allows users to input their preferences and receive tailored recommendations for their group. By solving this unmet need, the proposed application can simplify the process of planning group outings and make it more enjoyable for all parties involved.

  • We believe groups of people experience difficulty in deciding on the best restaurant to go together.

  • We believe the social foodies have bad dining experiences due to lack of a streamlined process for groups to search for and select restaurants that cater to everyone's preferences.

  • We believe the group organizer experiences difficulty in organizing the group dining event.

Section 4: Market Analysis

Existing solutions

The current solutions in the market can be classified into four categories: social apps, restaurant review apps, scheduling apps/websites, and niche activity-based social apps. However, there is a gap in the market for a comprehensive solution that enables users to find suitable restaurants or activities for their group. Users often resort to using general social apps like Messenger or WeChat to identify common interests, followed by using restaurant review apps like Yelp or Google review to search for restaurants or activities. In addition, users may utilize group scheduling tools to check everyone's schedule and plan the event. However, none of these solutions offer a complete package that seamlessly integrates all the necessary features in one platform. 

One thing worth noting is that there is a group of applications like MeetUp which enable users to find and join interested activities and meet new friends. However, those applications do not have the capability to select activities for a certain group of people.

We will analyze the four types of current solutions by understanding their advantages and disadvantages. 

1. Social apps (Messenger/WhatsApp/WeChat):

Users typically use messaging apps like Messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat to discuss their preferences and schedules with each other. One member of the group usually takes on the task of gathering and organizing everyone's input by reviewing the messages from each member.


  • Ease of use, easy to create groups

  • large user base


  • No in-app recommendation system

  • hard to summarize the need when there are more people in the group

  • Super-app becoming redundant, much like an elephant who has trouble turning

2. Restaurant review apps (Yelp)

Users need to look for restaurant or place to date on their own. Most of time they need to check restaurant review apps like Yelp. They will check comments for the restaurants and make their own judgement to see if it’s the perfect restaurant for the group. 


  • Clear comments and review system to rank the restaurants

  • Have reservation system


  • Recommendation provided for user himself/herself without considering the group profile.

  • Reservation system is extremely poor. No group coordination.

3. Group scheduling apps (When2Meet/Microsoft Calendar/Google Calendar)

Users use these apps to block times, make plans, and invite people to RSVP to organize a group event.


  • Integrated with emails and other company specific products- easy to use

  • A set-standard for most professionals

  • Very good engineering


  • No added service value from recommendations and algorithms. Just a tool.

  • Feels suffocating to keep adding events onto your calendar. Innately detested among users.

  • Just not seen as a social app

4. Niche activity-based social apps (MeetUp)

Meetup is a social networking platform that connects people with shared interests and facilitates offline group meetings. Users can create and join groups based on a wide range of topics, such as hiking, cooking, or language learning. Meetup aims to bring like-minded people together and foster social connections through in-person activities and events. The platform also allows organizers to schedule and promote events, track attendance, and collect payments. Meetup has both free and paid features, with premium plans offering additional tools and analytics for organizers. MeetUp doesn’t support users to 


  • Opportunities to meet new people

  • Hidden-gem events

  • Easy to use


  • Does not provide recommendations for more intimate activities

Direct Competitor Feature Matrix

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FoodMate sets itself apart from existing solutions #1, #2, and #3 by providing personalized restaurant recommendations to a group of people, as well as the ability to schedule events based on each individual's preferences and availability. All of the solutions mentioned above fall short in offering the complete set of services described.

FoodMate is also differentiated from solution #4 regarding the below aspects:

  • Values

    • MeetUp connects people with shared interests and hobbies in their local community.

    • FoodMate will focus on enhancing social connections and creating meaningful experiences for users.

  • Recommendation

    • MeetUp provides tailored recommendations regarding a single user.

    • FoodMate provides personalized recommendations based on individual’s profile within a group.

Section 5: User Stories

From user analysis above, we confirmed that our target audience are social foodies: foodies who enjoy dining out with friends and are interested in discovering new restaurants.

For the targeted audience, we listed hypothesis below. 

H1: Foodies will find a tailored restaurants recommendations for their group to be more useful than generic restaurant reviews on other platforms.
H2: Foodies will find the in-app reservations system to be time-saving and the system makes it easier to organize group dining experiences.
H3: Foodies would appreciate the ability to discover hidden gem restaurants and to find out who they can go with.

To prove such hypothesis, we conduct interviews and use affinity map. see interview notes and affinity map in Appendix 1: Customer interview data and affinity map 

From the affinity map, we pinpoint the core user stories for FoodMate, see full user stories list in Appendix 3: Full user stories list

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Section 6: Features & Design

For each user story above, there will be associated feature and design. Full design figma file see Appendix 4.

Feature 1: Preference & Restrictions Profiles

User Story: As a social foodie, when I organize a group outing dinner, I want to know everyone's food preferences and food restrictions so that I can find a restaurant that satisfies everyone's ask.

"It's tough when I plan a group outing dinner and have to keep track of everyone's food preferences and restrictions. Sometimes I feel like I need a spreadsheet just to make sure I've found a place everyone can enjoy."

"The hardest part of organizing a dinner is ensuring that the restaurant caters to everyone's needs. One of my friends is vegan, another is allergic to shellfish, and it's just a mess trying to balance it all."

Feature Explanation: Each user can create a profile that includes their food preferences and restrictions. When planning an outing, the user can simply select the users who are going to join the dining event and the system will select restaurant based on users’ profile. This will allow the organizer to plan the event without worrying about if the restaurant caters to everyone’s need, streamlining the restaurant search process.

In Sign-up process, User would select their cuisine interest, dietary restrictions and their specific restaurant interests. When FoodMate recommends restaurants, it will take everyone’s profile into account. 

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Feature 2: Tailored Recommendation based on Group Profile

User Story: As a social foodie, when I'm looking for restaurants for group outings I want to see all the restaurants that fullfil our requirements (food preferences/dietary restrictions/mood/price/distance) So That I can quickly make the decision 

"Looking for a restaurant that fits everyone's mood, price range, distance, and dietary preferences feels like searching for a needle in a haystack. It's overwhelming and can take hours!" 

"The most time-consuming part of planning a group outing is going through all the potential restaurants that might meet our diverse requirements. It's like solving a complex puzzle every time!"

Feature Explanation: The app can include a group recommendation system that generate restaurant’s list based on a group’s specific requirements (food preferences, dietary restrictions, mood, price range, and distance). This will help users seamlessly locate the restaurants that fulfill the group requirements, making decision-making faster and easier.



In group chat session, users can click “Best Matched Restaurant” button to view the current Restaurant recommendation, and the restaurant recommendation is already tailored according to the group’s profile. 

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Feature 3: Preference Match Score

User Story: As a Social Foodie when I'm looking for restaurants for group outing I want to see to what extent the restaurant matches our group preferences/restrictions So That I can quickly make the decision 

"It's frustrating not knowing to what extent a restaurant can cater to our group's preferences and restrictions. I often wish there was an easier way to match these elements." 

"I often struggle to determine how well a potential restaurant can meet our group's diverse needs. It feels like a guessing game that I often lose."

Feature Explanation: Each restaurant could have a score representing the match percentage with the group's preferences and restrictions. This provides a quick and easy way to understand the extent to which the restaurant matches the group's needs, aiding in speedy decision-making.


Under each restaurant that is in recommendation list, there will be a match score to displace the extent to which the restaurant matches the group’s needs.

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Feature 4: Integrated Scheduling and Availability Checker


User Story: As a Social Foodie when I organize a group outing I want to know my friends' schedule and restaurants' availability So That I can quickly finalize the decision based on my friends' schedule and restaurants' availability.

"Trying to align everyone's schedules with restaurant availability is like playing chess in the dark. It's often impossible to find a time and place that works for everyone."

"Coordinating everyone's schedules and cross-referencing them with restaurant availabilities can be really exhausting. There are so many variables to consider."

Feature Explanation: The app can have a scheduling tool that syncs with users' calendars and also checks restaurant availability. This feature will provide real-time data on friends' availability and restaurant's seating, facilitating quick decision-making.


From group chat page, user could click Plan to enter their availability and price/distance/mood preferences and then on restaurant recommendation page, user will see recommended time and date and also see how many users in the group have entered their information.

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Feature 5: In-app Reservations


User Story: As a Social Foodie, when I finalize the decision for the restaurant I want to make the reservation without jumping to another app So That I can save time on looking for the application.

"When I finally choose a restaurant for the group, the last thing I want to do is switch to another app to make a reservation. It's an extra step that just takes more time." 

"Having to switch apps to make a reservation after we've decided on a restaurant is a real pain. It just extends the planning process unnecessarily."

Feature Explanation: Users can book their chosen restaurant directly within the app. This eliminates the need to switch apps for reservations, saving time and streamlining the experience.


When users click into the restaurant details page, they can directly use Book button to make reservations

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Feature 6: Restaurant Overview with External Reviews. 


User Story: As a Social Foodie when I check the restaurants recommendations I want to check the menu and reviews of the restaurants on general platform (Google, Yelp) So That I can confirm that the recommended restaurants truely fulfil our requirements.

"Confirming if a recommended restaurant truly meets our requirements is tricky. I have to cross-check their menu and reviews on multiple platforms, which can be really time-consuming." 

"I always feel anxious until I've confirmed that the recommended restaurants can meet our diverse needs. Checking menus and reviews on multiple platforms is such a chore."

Feature Explanation: Each restaurant page in the app can include a summary of menus and ratings pulled from platforms like Google and Yelp. This allows users to confirm that the recommended restaurant truly meets the group's requirements without leaving the app


On restaurant details page, a user would be able to find ratings from Google, Yelp and Infatuation and also the popular dishes from this restaurant. 


Feature 7: Friends recommendation list under restaurant


User Story: As a Social Foodie, when I find a new restaurant or a hidden gem restaurant I want to know who I can ask to go with me So That I can enjoy the dinning experiences with my friends

"Finding a hidden gem restaurant is great, but then I'm left wondering who I can invite to join me. It's like solving a puzzle of people's tastes and schedules."

"When I discover a new restaurant, figuring out who to invite is another hurdle. I have to remember everyone's preferences and availability, which isn't always easy."

Feature Explanation: When a user is exploring restaurants on Foodmate, they will see a recommended friends list in the restaurant detail page. This will help users quickly determine who might enjoy visiting this restaurant with them, enhancing their dining experience.


When users explore new restaurants, there’s a section in restaurant details page called “You can go with”. Users could find friends who may want to go to this restaurant with them and they can directly create a new group here. 

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Feature 8: Community Ratings and Reviews

User Story: As a Social Foodie when I'm browsing restaurants I want to know if other people have great group outing dining experiences in any restaurants So That I could save it and prepare for my next outing experiences.

"I wish I knew if other people had good group dining experiences at restaurants I'm considering. It could save me so much trial and error." 

"It's a bummer when I pick a place for a group outing, only to find out later that others had a great time somewhere else. If only I could tap into their experiences beforehand."

Feature Explanation: Users can see other users' reviews and ratings, specifically about their group outing experiences at each restaurant. This feature allows users to tap into the experiences of others, helping them prepare better for their next outing and discover restaurants with proven group-friendly environments.


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To demonstrate how the new user experience has led to increased satisfaction for users, we could use below metrics:

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Section 7: Success Metrics
  • User adoption

    • The success of the FoodMate app relies heavily on users downloading and using it regularly. However, users may be hesitant to adopt a new app or create a new profile on a new app if they are already comfortable with their current methods of finding and booking restaurants.

    • Mitigation: To overcome this barrier, you could adopt a strong marketing and outreach strategy that highlights the unique selling propositions of FoodMate. Offering incentives such as promotional discounts for initial sign-ups, or a referral program where users get benefits for referring friends could help. Moreover, integrating social media sign-ups can simplify the process and help convert interested users into app users by reducing the friction of creating a new profile.

  • Data accuracy

    • FoodMate relies on accurate and up-to-date information about restaurants to provide personalized recommendations. If the data is not accurate, it may lead to inaccurate recommendations and negative user experiences.

    • Mitigation: FoodMate could establish partnerships with restaurants to ensure that the data is updated and accurate. Regular checks and updates, or potentially leveraging user feedback can help maintain accuracy. Additionally, integrating APIs from reliable sources that already aggregate restaurant data could help maintain the accuracy and freshness of the data.

  • User trust

    • Users may be skeptical about the app's ability to provide personalized recommendations based on group preferences. If the app fails to deliver on its promises, users may lose trust in the app and stop using it.

    • Mitigation: It's crucial to deliver on promises right from the start. Make sure that the recommendation algorithm is well-tested and reliable before launch. Offering a transparent explanation to users about how the app makes its recommendations could also build trust. Also, leveraging user reviews and feedback can help the algorithm improve over time, leading to better, more personalized recommendations.

  • Technical challenges

    • Building a seamless in-app reservation/booking/plan-making system may pose technical challenges, such as integration with multiple restaurant reservation systems and ensuring smooth communication between users and restaurants.

    • Mitigation: Building robust partnerships with third-party booking systems could be key here. By working closely with these partners and possibly using established APIs, FoodMate can ensure smooth and effective communication between the app, users, and restaurants. Hiring a technically strong team with experience in the restaurant tech industry can also be an effective mitigation strategy.

Section 8: Adoption Barriers
Section 9: Development Plan
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Appendix 1
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Appendix 2

Appendix 3: Other user stories

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Appendix 3
Appendix 4
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