Murmur is the iPhone and Apple Watch app that connects its users to real human restaurant concierges via text. KITE Invest spoke with Murmur Founder and CEO, Stephanie Simon, and the team to get a sense of how this ‘foodie’ app is bringing the dining experience to everyone’s finger.
KITE Invest: Please give an example of how Murmur works – a typical scenario of a restaurant recommendation.
Stephanie Simon: Murmur is straightforward. Download the app, text us what you’re craving, and our team of restaurant enthusiasts will chat with you to find you the perfect place. That’s it.
It’s a human interface, and a shortcut, to search.
Today, people have to tailor search terms for their search engine (e.g. “Thai restaurant + San Francisco” vs. “What’s a good Thai restaurant nearby?”).
Once the user thinks of the right search term, they have to parse through results. In the case of restaurants, this means review sites, and then reviews and ratings on those sites.
We think searching should feel as natural as asking a friend – that your search engine should accommodate you, not the other way around. And that by making search a conversation, refining results is a chat, not a hassle.
KITE: Does Murmur create a network for its users to see other recommendations that have been given?
SS: Every recommendation is completely tailored to your specific situation / question. We don’t show recommendations others have been given because the results don’t always generalize. The recommendations are a reflection of who the user is and their specific needs.
KITE: Murmur suggests restaurants. In other words Murmur is the foodie for foodies. Are restaurants a part of the network? Can restaurants push or sway recommendations?
SS: Yes, you could say Murmur is a foodie for foodies! But we like to think of ourselves as a foodie for anyone who wants to find a good restaurant.
Restaurants have no sway in our recommendations. Transparency and trust are foundational to Murmur and to the experience we want to offer. All recommendations are based on the expert knowledge of our team and our proprietary search methodology.
KITE: Will there be an advertising / promotional space on the app? In this line, what will be the means of revenue for the app?
SS: Yes, there may be. Our users have high purchase intent (50% of consumers conducting local search on a smartphone visit the store that day, according to Google), and specify what they’re looking for and where. So we’re in a great position to offer ads for adjacent services. For example, if a user is planning a dinner, we can offer ads for nearby movie theaters, events, or even their ride there.
KITE: The app, coming by way of San Francisco, promises its users that they will never have to search for a restaurant again. Where is Murmur being offered?
SS: Murmur is available for iPhone and iPad in the App Store, in the U.S. and Canada currently, though expansion is on the horizon.
KITE: What happens in the case of Murmur users who ask for a recommendation outside of Murmur’s restaurant network?
SS: If a user asks for a recommendation in a country other than the U.S. and Canada (which happens), we inform the user we’re not operating in their region yet.
KITE: What is Murmur’s long-term goal – i.e. business plan and geographical reach?
SS: Global mobile ad revenue coming specifically from search is about $9.4B. About half of all searches are local, and about 16% for recommendations. Our goal is to own the discovery local search space.
We’re working on streamlining the recommendation research process, while maintaining a high level of relevance and quality. As sourcing recommendations becomes faster, the cost of each decreases, ads more easily offset their cost, and our team can focus more on chatting with users.
We’ve also built a companion Apple Watch app that will be available in late April, and a high-traffic blog of interviews with food bloggers and chefs, enjoyed by thousands of readers every month.
Our geographical reach could be to all English-speaking countries tomorrow. Global expansion depends on local search service coverage, and language localization.
KITE: Is Murmur currently seeking funding? If so, what are the methods by which you are using to find investor(s)? Do you find the investment aspect to be challenging or not?
SS: Yes, we’re currently raising a Series A round and connecting with investors we think could add significant value. My job as CEO is to find and keep good people. Part of keeping good people is paying them. So I see fundraising as an exciting time to find new strategic partners and enable my teammates to continue doing great work.
To download Murmur, click here
To learn more, click here
To check out the blog, click here