Social Tip Calculator Idea

Create a web site, aimed at mobile phone users that allows for a simple tip calculator – instead of percentages it asks:

“Was your service:”

    • Prompt, perfect, and friendly
    • Friendly, but not correct (or too slow)
    • Unfriendly – the waitperson needs to find a new job
    • Horrible – everything was screwed up

Those responses are all that is required to define a tip, and this would be like any other tip calculator, except for the following:

Add the ability to enter the restaurant name/location (and Geo-data if available), time of day, etc to the equation.  Share the refined data with the social community (hell, maybe even the raw data).  Algorithmically adjust suggested tipping amounts based on the answer to the service question above, plus a historic picture of service at that establishment, with that waitperson, etc.

Ideally they would be a very easy way for me to tell if an establishment was doing well, or not in serving customers – just by looking at the tipping history.  I could see if new staff were improving or if established staff were getting worse.

The business owner could also see who was improving among his employees, if the problem was really with the kitchen, and not the waitstaff, etc.

Revenue model is fairly simple – charge establishment owners a small fee to see the most valuable of the data (like waitperson names). 

Sell ads – perhaps if I look up an Italian restaurant near my home that has a “bad” rating, other restaurants could advertise that they “Scored a 98%, and here’s a coupon for $5 off if you try us in the next three days”.

I realize a site like this won’t really take of in a big way until it is just easier to enter the data from the minimal cell phone input.  But it will happen soon – the software is getting smarter, the phones are getting smarter, voice recognition actually mostly works, and eventually every cell phone will have function geo-data capabilities (a GPS receiver the user can access).

Actually, this shouldn’t be limited to restaurants – instead a specification should be written and published that establishes a mechanism to rate ANYTHING via remote devices (PDAs, Cellphones, Laptops, telephones, etc) through a common interface that includes a common user experience, a common API for the type of data being submitted, and the pertinent Geo-data.  If you’ve ever seen TiVo, think something almost as easy at it’s most fundamental level – a “thumbs-up” or a “thumbs-down”.  These could even be incorporated as generic hardware keys (or soft-keys) on a mobile device.

Worth some more thought.  Please give me a cut if you steal the idea and Google buys you for 1.6 BILLION USD.


  1. Hah!  I did think about the fact people tend to remark loudly and frequently when they have a bad experience, and tend to remark rarely when they had a good experience.

    One GeoData is widely available you could just send them an email reminder anytime you’ve detected that they spent a certain amount of time at a location (like a restaraunt).  That way they could choose to enter the data from a home PC.

  2. The problem I see with such a system is a form of (what psychologists call) negative confirmation bias: Only the VERY pleased people (probably just a few, if any) and the BADLY treated people (probably most of the folks who submit information) are going to contribute. The people who were simply ‘OKAY’ with the exeperience aren’t going to bother with the hassle of accessing a website to say they had a decent time at a restaurant. So your results will NOT reflect reality.Anyway, it’s a fun idea nevertheless. But I’m not getting you a cut! Else I wouldn’t be stealing it, now, would I?