fomo Founders Jacqueline du Plessis and Ryan Marx
fomo Founders Jacqueline du Plessis and Ryan Marx

Harken Holdings, a business builder in South Africa, which owns brands such as Moneypanda.co.za, Insurehero.co.za, Jackmarx.co.za has launched fomo, it’s first app in the hospitality vertical.

South Africa’s first food specials and events app launched this month as a tool to help both consumers find specials in their area, as well as restaurants, expand their reach outside of traditional instore and own social media marketing.

Ryan Marx and Jacqueline du Plessis, co-founders of Harken Holdings and MoneyPanda, launched the app out of their own need to see up-to-date events and specials that are happening in their area.

South Africa and specifically the hospitality industry need all the help it can get, with the darkness of the black-swan event of Covid-19, fomo aims to be a glimmer of hope for the restaurant industry.

fomo is offering their service to restaurants for free so help establishments get back on their feet.

They realize that restaurants don’t have extra cash to spend on marketing and that’s how fomo believes they can help. Consumers are also struggling with salary reductions etc. and start to cut luxuries such as eating at a restaurant.

“For restaurants, we can help by getting people through the door and for consumers we can show them they can still afford to go spend some money at a restaurant if they know where the specials are,” says Du Plessis.

Food
Food at a restaurant. Photo by Pierre Blaché from Pexels

“We shouldn’t expect restaurant/ event owners to be marketing experts, we expect them to run a great establishment and because of this South Africans aren’t getting the access to the information that they need, such as specials near me on a Tuesday.”

Due to the outdated information, we see online when we search “specials near me”, and that common fear of missing out, hence fomo, the founders decided that they needed to change how consumers navigate the landscape, she said.

Marx says “Although fomo competes with companies such as The Entertainer, Hyperli, Daddy’s Deals etc, our position is slightly different, where these companies have really good deals like 2 for 1 meals, limited quantities or vouchers, most often the case, once these limitations are reached, the consumer will move on to the next establishment where a deal is offered.

“fomo on the other had plugs into existing specials of the restaurant, and serves as an app for discovery, which also means access to more specials, both 2 for 1, but maybe also a free drink with your meal, or 20% off pizzas on a Thursday night for example with no vouchers or coupons or app subscriptions being bought. There are also very high commissions and monthly fees associated with these services.”

fomo is boosting restaurants customers

Because fomo is built to fit into restaurants existing specials, there’s no yearlong contract that ties company’s in, and no % of turnover that needs to be committed to. An establishment simply goes onto the fomo website, fills in the 10 short questions about their special and the fomo team does the rest.

South Africans have been hungry for fomo

The fomo app is 100% free to download, sign-up and use. Users can also rate and review each special, call an uber, call the restaurant, make an email booking.

“We believe this information should be easily and freely accessible to South Africans. Due to Covid, the restaurants have been put under increased pressure to get customers back into their establishments, on the flip side, consumers have been hit hard financially and will be looking to get as much value for their expendable income as they can,” said Marx.

Jacqueline and Ryan themselves struggle to get updated information on specials and believe in giving people access to this information to make more informed decisions, whilst saving people time and money, which is a common narrative across their portfolio of companies.

The fomo team currently consists of 5 people and is being funded by Harken Holding which has no external investors to date. fomo is looking at growing their team by adding roughly 10 employees within the next 4 months and is looking at opening a funding round for investors.

Marx says, “If you look at one South Africans value for money meal it won’t be the same as someone from the UK, fomo will help you see specials that other South Africans have recommended.”

The founders have plans to expand into different countries in the near future.

The plan is to have one app that you can use local or when you travel and use the in-app reviews to filter reviews by country of origin to help guide users on the best specials in certain areas.

“I believe an app like fomo is going to be powerful in the South African landscape. Our plan is not just to build the app and leave it to ‘gain traction’ but to be give it the attention and the growth opportunity it needs,” explains Du Plessis.

“The South African entertainment industry has taken a massive knock in the last couple of years due to increase in cost of living and now with Covid, leaving South Africans with less money to eat out. If restaurants stick to what they are good at and we help with marketing, fomo can get more customers through the door”.

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