How do I validate an iPhone or iPad app idea for restaurants?


I have an iPhone/iPad app idea for which I can build an MVP pretty quickly (about a week or two at most). My target customers are local restaurants.

How do I approach local restaurants to validate my idea?

More specifically:

  • Do I speak to the owner or somebody else?
  • How do I show them the app if it's not on app store yet?
  • How to ask for their time to hear my pitch?
  • How much interest means it's worth the shot?
  • How much lukewarm response means it's not worth the shot?


Ideas Iphone Validation Ipad App

asked Nov 26 '12 at 09:16
180 points

5 Answers


Best thing to do would be to get some screenshots / high fidelity wireframes made for your application that you can just click through. Set this up in a full-screen browser on your iPad so you can click through it and demo what the purpose and goal of the application would be like.

Then just go to some local restaurants and ask to see a manager or owner. (ideally find this out before hand so you can ask for them by name) The person may try to stop you or inquire further about what you need to see the manager for and why.

Just tell them that you are a local mobile developer and you have a really cool idea for an application. You wanted to get some feedback from some real restaurateurs before you invest the time to create the product and that you only need 5 minutes of their time to get some feedback.

For the most part people are really accommodating with requests like this. You aren't looking to sell anything (today at least) and people genuinely like to help other people and also like to talk to people where their expertise or opinion counts.

When you do this get their name, phone and email address so you can come back and sell it to them once you create it :)

But definitely make something with a great user interface to demo. It doesn't have to actually be an app, and even click throughs of full page image designs is sufficient to get your product concept across.

Also make sure to run some financial numbers by them... "would you be willing to pay $30/mo for a product like this?" and get some feedback.

answered Nov 26 '12 at 09:55
Ryan Doom
5,472 points


Assuming you have a good idea, the amount of interest you get depends on how well you present the idea to them and how you approach the restaurant.

  1. Just approaching a restaurant with an idea is the worst possible way to approach the problem. You have nothing tangible to show them, just an idea they may not be able to visualize.
  2. Approaching the restaurant with both an idea and a mock up (screen shots) of the idea is a better approach. It gives them something tangible to see.
  3. Showing the restaurant a working demo on a smart phone is the best thing you can do. Note you don't have to be in the app store- you develop a minimal app and install it on your cell phone- no store needed. I hope you are familiar with how restaurants work. Nothing will get you kicked out faster than showing up at the wrong time. Never approach them during breakfast, lunch, or dinner hours. Pick a time when they are not serving food.
answered Nov 26 '12 at 10:41
Gary E
12,510 points


I wanted to add couple of issues for you to consider, based on what I've seen from one project my former company did and witnessing experience of several of my friend, who are building products for the restaurant industry:

  1. Restaurant industry is extremely hard to penetrate. Understand that you are competing for managers' and owners' attention together with plethora of vendors in every imaginable area. Every person under the sun is trying to talk to them and sell them. It is very much "monkey see, money do" industry - unless they see bunch of others using it, they are not interested to be a lab rat. Yes, there are rare outliers and early adopters, but they as skeptical and jaded.
  2. Restaurant profit margins are really bad. From what I recall seeing, only 5% of restaurants survive 1st year after inception. Keep that in mind when you pitch. Your pitch on how your widget is going to make them money has to be ingrained in you.
  3. Only interest that matters is if they pull out the checkbook and write you a check. I have personally witnessed several friends getting burned building products for the industry based on "oh, we would pay X for this" and then getting bupkis out of it.
  4. Try local franchise restaurants instead (not like Dennys, but rather something regional with 3-4 restaurants). They tend to be a lot more open to new technologies.

Hope this helps.

answered Nov 26 '12 at 12:13
Apollo Sinkevicius
3,323 points


You can contact the Owner or Managing Director through the Internet. Send them some information vie e-mail or on social networks (write short idea description, add some links with similar apps, tell about the benefits they can gain after providing the app etc.) In some days you can make a call and ask whether they received your offer. Schedule a meeting and discuss everything more detailed. Here are several examples of the good restaurant apps you may show to your potential clients,

answered Dec 4 '12 at 20:55
1 point


The first thing you can do to validate ideas in an early stage is to GOOGLE THEM!
Yep, just search the app idea on google and you will get lots of information like whether:

  • The app already exists or not.
  • The apps that currently do what you thought lack some features.
  • People are really interested in such idea and are willing to pay for it.
  • And more.

Here's a detailed article I recently wrote on this subject. Good luck!

answered Jan 15 '13 at 01:52
1 point

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