Although everyone has been impacted by the pandemic, small businesses are among those who have felt the worst effects of COVID-19. The Biden administration estimates that 400,000 small businesses across the nation have closed because of the pandemic and millions more are barely surviving. These effects have extended to the LM community, as many local businesses have shut down or are struggling because of lockdown closures and other restrictions. Even when reopened, these businesses cannot rival the attention that chain restaurants and popular eateries get regularly.
To solve this problem, senior Elliot Ginzburg and junior Jonathan Xu founded a new food ordering service called YumEz (pronounced yummies), which offers select deals for local restaurants. Ginzburg describes his motivation for starting the company, declaring that, “Far too little government support has been given to our favorite restaurants and ice cream shops. We felt like we had to step up and create a unique solution to save our businesses.” As a result of this service, customers are able to connect and order from local restaurants.
The company brings attention to these local businesses by promoting them via SMS text messaging. Ginzburg and Xu saw that the traditional way of getting food through looking up restaurants often crowded out the smaller eateries in town who do not have as many advertising resources. YumEz solves this problem through a custom automated texting bot that responds with a discount that a small restaurant provides when a customer texts for food nearby.
To sign up, YumEz users enter their phone number on the website to be added to the texting list. They will then receive a message welcoming them to YumEz and will be able to order food. To place their orders, users can either text-to-order or use the company’s automatic dialing features. For example, if they choose to text-to-order a burger, subscribers can text, “Find me delicious burgers in Wynnewood,” and will receive an exclusive promotion at a local burger spot, like M2O Burger in Wynnewood. At the moment, neither the subscribers nor the restaurants are charged for the service.
The service may seem similar to its competitors, but as Ginzburg and Xu point out, there are many key differences. Primarily, the discounts that they provide are exclusive, and are not available on apps like Grubhub and UberEats. Furthermore, they indicate that it is far more convenient for businesses to advertise directly to consumers and makes ordering food more efficient since it is easier to text than to download an app. Lastly, Xu points out that, “YumEz is built around not just an operation but a family–whether that means connecting in-person with all of its restaurant partners or hosting fun launch events with its users.”
On Friday, March 19, YumEz launched their service at the local Wynnewood frozen yogurt store, Yapple Yogurt. Starting at 1 p.m., any YumEz user who showed up received a twenty percent discount on their order. Ginzburg and Xu were pleased with the popularity of the event, and were excited to help the restaurant out. “We had a very successful launch event with over fifty YumEz users coming and kicking off our startup,” said Ginzburg. YumEz hosted another event on April 9 to help local ice cream shop Parlour Ice Cream, which boasted great results as well.
The service has already proven to be successful, with over 300 subscribers and more than a dozen participating businesses. Yet, Ginzburg and Xu believe that there is still much more room to improve. Xu is hopeful for the future, stating, “While we are still relatively early into the process, we are always looking to the future and the potential it holds for YumEz. We would like to focus on advancing both the technologies and market for YumEz, by developing an app to go along with the SMS service as well as expanding into University City and other college towns.” If you are curious about this new startup, you can visit their Instagram and Facebook @eatyumez and try out the service at eatyumez.com.