The Singapore-based team behind Burpple, the social food review app, has been very quiet for the past nine months. It turns out they’ve been cooking up a major revamp (pictured above) that’s available this afternoon as an update to the Burpple iOS app.
Burpple co-founder Dixon Chan tells Tech in Asia that the latest iteration sees the team taking a different approach by focusing on the community and guided curation rather than simply building up the volume of food venue listings. Backed up with stronger search functions and a greater emphasis on curated lists, Chan says the idea is to guide users “to great food for any occasion, by locals, for everyone.” He adds: “The big opportunity here is being guided by local knowledge. People need easy access, not more obstacles to strong content.”
Focusing first on Singapore before expanding this curation to other cities, Burpple now has a ‘hot 100’ list for Singapore, which is based on data for the popularity of venues within the app. The startup is hand-picking some of its users as ‘tastemakers’ for each city and recommends people follow them for a sort of personal guide to the best places to eat and drink in Singapore.
Chan sees this as part of a strong trend towards data given a personal touch with human recommendations. “Most of our users tell us that they switched from traditional magazines, print media, and search directories because [Burpple] can be so much simpler, faster and trusted,” he explains. Burpple’s reinvention – in both the apps and its website – sees the service taking a more personal and even more social approach in its ongoing rivalry with Yelp.
All these new developments seem to replace what the startup was working on last year when it rolled out a food search engine. Burpple still has a search box, but it appears increasingly de-emphasized in favor of users getting guidance from lists and the new ‘tastemakers’. But it also means that Burpple’s vaunted monetization plans from last year, such as charging restaurants and venues for Burpple webpage customization, have disappeared too. Chan says the team is beta testing a new “business program” for Q3, but remains tight-lipped about it for now.
Chan says that Burpple was beta testing the ‘hot 100’ and other new curation features since March this year and he claims it has triggered a 500 percent increase in user activity.
Globally, Burpple has 150,000 listed locations in 10 major cities and claims to have 200,000 monthly active users in Singapore right now. The Burpple 3.0 update should now be in the iOS App Store; the Android update is coming soon.