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Baltimore foodie app Flave is expanding to DC

The RealLIST Startups honoree made the move during DC’s Restaurant Week. Now, the founders have their sites set on more US cities and a funding round in 2024.

Jal Irani (left) and Derek Battle (Right), founders of Flave (Courtesy Flave)

Food rating app Flave just made its latest move in the culinary world — this time, into the DC restaurant market.

Flave, an incentive app for diners, partnered with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington for DC’s Restaurant Week, making its first steps into the DC market. Flave is a Baltimore, Maryland-area startup that incentivizes restaurant visitors. Diners take a photo of their food after it arrives and earn gift cards from Flave.

“We got a lot of good restaurant connections and it was the perfect way to launch in DC, to kick off and get our footprint in DC and also in Northern Virginia,” founder Jal Irani told Technical.ly.

During Restaurant Week, Irani said, the startup gave away $2,800 in gift cards to diners visiting DC restaurants. The company simultaneously launched its Partner Portal, a web platform for restaurants that lets them view analytics, display specials like brunch deals or happy hours and configure rewards. After diners take their food photo, restaurants can also reach out through the portal and ask any three questions about their experience, receiving private, personalized reviews.

In the first 24 hours, Irani said that Flave got thousands of downloads from DC users, and a lot of its power users from the past month are based in DC (Flave has over 10,000 users in total). Founded by Irani and Derek Battle, Flave was backed by TEDCO in 2021 and named a Baltimore RealLIST Startups honoree in 2021 and 2022.

“It makes sense for us to expand at that time, to get more users to launch our partner portal and start onboarding those restaurants,” Irani said. “With the different breadth of restaurants that exist in DC, it made sense for us to go down there and then expand there.”

Irani said DC was ideal for the startup to move into because it’s a larger market with many different types of restaurants and users. This is only the start of the company’s presence in DC, as he hopes to partner with more restaurants in the area going forward.

But he doesn’t intend to stop there. In March of 2024, Flave’s founders plan to open a $1 million funding round. Following that, they aim to take Flave to markets like New York City, Philadelphia and other major cities along the East Coast.

“One thing we wanted to prove out was that we can go to a new geographic region, we can expand, we can get the partnerships and the users, acquire them and also retain them, which we can prove now,” Irani said.

Companies: Flave

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