With the Tangoo app, Paul Davidescu, centre, brings together restaurateurs, social influencers and diners. (photo from tangoo.ca)
Food is more than nourishment, says Paul Davidescu, it builds community. The Vancouver entrepreneur is behind an app that aims to unite people over food.
“We are passionate about creating community,” said Davidescu, whose company, Tangoo, is connecting local food fans. “The way that we believe you create community is over the dinner table, where you get people together for dinner, brunch, what we call breaking bread, because that’s when the big ideas get created, that’s when people find love, that’s when people really get together.”
For restaurateurs, Tangoo promises to “attract the perfect customer by sharing your business story through social media influencers, our pocket concierge app, and integrated marketing solutions.” For diners, Tangoo offers “the pulse of the city’s best dining experiences, exclusively recommended by foodie influencers featured on the app.” And, for social influencers – a relatively new but increasingly powerful demographic – Tangoo offers a front row seat to emerging food trends in the city.
Davidescu, who graduated from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business in 2012, explained that businesses are having an increasingly difficult time connecting with young consumers through traditional media.
“Nowadays, PR [and] social media are turning into one, especially if you’re looking at targeting millennials,” he said. “They don’t really watch TV anymore. They’re on social media.”
Tangoo’s approach is to provide information through their mobile app that helps potential customers get a sense of a restaurant’s personality. Part of the experience includes the opinions of local figures like chef Vikram Vij, record label founder Ari Paunonen and lifestyle expert Natalie Langston on their favorite meal destinations.
While the Tangoo app has about 20,000 users, Davidescu’s vision is to leverage the existing audiences of influencers. By inviting well-known figures and social media bigshots to be the first to experience, say, a new summer cocktail or a dining room’s revamped menu, Tangoo helps restaurants get their news out to the people who most closely follow such things.
“We started to actually connect these influencers who we already have on our app with the actual restaurants directly,” he said. “Not to the point where they’re just recommending them on our app, but they’re actually going into the restaurant and they’re tasting the food and actually posting on their own Instagram.”
Influencer marketing, as it is known, is Tangoo’s bread and butter.
“Think of it as more informal PR,” he said. For businesses with tight budgets – and restaurants tend to operate on narrow margins – conventional media can be very expensive and social media can be a time-consuming gig.
“You resort to either not doing social media or giving it to your manager at the bar who is multitasking and will never, ever do a very good job on that,” said Davidescu.
Tangoo aims to do the work for the restaurant by connecting them with social media figures with foodie followers.
“It’s kind of like getting guaranteed press through a very targeted channel,” he said. “We are trying to make PR really affordable for restaurants, that’s the core. They’re the ones that nurture community by being alive and keeping things interesting.”
Right now, Tangoo is busy with the Vancouver food scene, but Davidescu said it could grow organically to other cities in future.
“There are a lot of restaurants in Vancouver,” said Davidescu, who was born in Mexico and came here as a child. He was a camper and counselor at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, Camp Hatikvah and Camp Biluim in Quebec. When he was a student at UBC, he helped organize an interfaith discussion group. As part of his co-op studies in business school, he had placements in Germany and Barcelona.
Davidescu said there is a connection between his Jewishness and his devotion to food and connecting over a meal. Community is built across the table, he said.
“Food is cultural,” he said.
“It’s a way to just bring people together.”