Gebni, the food delivery app that lets restaurants dynamically shift menu prices based on demand, is rolling out new features including name your price, price alerts as well as easier restaurant and cuisine requests.
Launched earlier this year, Gebni (pronounced “Jeb-nee” — it’s Arabic for “bring me”) uses a combination of financial modeling and machine learning to allow restaurants to automatically charge less for certain items during periods of low demand. As its site points out, unlike Uber, there is no surge pricing and Gebni never charges more than full price for an item.
Because prices are constantly monitored and determined per item, pricing isn’t dictated by straight peak/off-peak hours. A restaurant could be busy, but half the menu isn’t selling, so prices could be dropped for the delivery of those dishes.
The new features for the app include name your price and price alerts. With these, users can set or be alerted when certain dishes hit a pre-determined price. The app has also made it easier to request certain cuisines and restaurants be added to the app.
Gebni is only available in New York City (Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan) right now, and according to Co-Founder and CEO Mohamed Merzouk, the app works with 500 – 1,000 restaurants. Gebni is an ordering platform and not a delivery service, so it only works with restaurants that already have those capabilities in place.
Merzouk says Gebni’s mission is to make restaurant-quality food more available to people with lower incomes. Because the app can make food less expensive to order, the commission the company charges doesn’t push prices too high.
While he wouldn’t give out too many specifics, Merzouk said that they are seeing a lot of use from college students and 50 percent of its users had never placed a food order online before because it was too expensive. Additionally, roughly half of all Gebni orders happen between 2:30 and 5 p.m..
The company’s dynamic pricing has received some pushback from restaurant owners. Some establishments already offer flexible pricing through specials like happy hour, and others don’t like the idea of pricing control being taken away from them.
But Merzouk’s ambitions for Gebni go beyond takeout, he wants to put dynamic pricing into effect while you’re sitting in a restaurant as well. To help reach those goals, the company raised an additional undisclosed sum of angel funding last month. Gebni had previously raised a $110,000 angel round.
Gebni is being measured as it looks to expand outside of NYC. It’s looking at where app downloads are coming from the App Store to help figure out where its dynamic pricing model may work best next.
Though he didn’t really talk about it, if Gebni takes off a huge area of opportunity for them is in their data. They’ll know what types of cuisine are popular, and how much people are willing to pay for it down to the neighborhood level. That could prove invaluable to existing restaurants. Or, combine that data with virtual restaurants and you could build a micro-targeted, ever-changing food empire that opens the door to people of all incomes enjoying restaurant food.