When it comes to passionate consumer groups, Australia’s community of burger-lovers ranks pretty highly.

Kieran Warwick and his team want to tap into that enthusiasm with The Burger Collective — a restaurant and product review app (with a couple of twists).

Burger aficionados themselves, The BC crew started off as members of a fast-growing Facebook group with a similar review concept.

“We were frustrated by the lack of tech. So we took that idea and said ‘what are the limitations?’ And that’s how The BC got started,” Warwick told Stockhead.

“Before we launched we had 5,000 users pre-signed up, and that’s when I thought we’re onto something here — let’s double down.”

Users who download the app start off as burger “noobs”, before commencing on a points-based burger journey — eating and reviewing — through eight different levels until they reach “grand master”. (Warwick added that by this point, “you probably want to have a gym membership”.)

A matter of trust

One differentiator for The Burger Collective is that it was designed with a scalable verification process.

“The biggest pain point for Yelp and Zomato users is that they can’t trust the reviews, because they’re not verified,” Warwick says.

“So I could be sitting here in Sydney right now and say I’m in London, trying out a burger joint and pretending to give it a one-star review.”

To solve the problem, the team established an app-function so that when users go into a BC partner store, they have to scan a QR code. For non-partners, the app requires users to upload a receipt.

“That proves they’ve been in the store and eaten that burger. So when they leave a review we don’t have to moderate it, and it’s a true reflection of what the restaurant actually is.”

Raising capital

Warwick and his team started off with around $120k of seed capital to establish a minimum viable concept (MVC). Another $500k seed round followed late last year, led by a $350k contribution from an angel investor.

“That’s when we really let the business go nuts,” Warwick said. “We had around 120 partner-restaurants last September and now we have 850.”

User numbers have also climbed from 28,000 to more than 53,000 in that time.

“We almost have a silent salesperson in-store with our signage up, so in terms of user-acquisition, the more restaurants we sign the more users actually come on board.”

For its next funding round, The BC is looking to raise $1m to provide capital flexibility for a global expansion.

Around $200k has come from the development team — “they’re the ones who are building it, and they see the potential”. The company is in discussions with sophisticated investors and business partners to build out the remainder.

Making money

The model has two revenue streams, starting with a premium subscription option at $130/month. Partner-restaurants can use their logo on the app and reviewers at their restaurants are offered double-points on their way to grand-master status.

The BC also has agreements with a number of suppliers, such as beverage company Lion Nathan, a model which is proving to be “really lucrative”, Warwick said.

“We offer specials on Lion Nathan products, and we get a five per cent clip of all the beer they sell in store.”

“For us it’s about trailing revenue, but the restaurants love us because we usually bring a good deal, like the first keg free.”

Going global

To execute on its global vision, Burger Collective has signed a partnership deal with location-based information app Foursquare.

The agreement will give The BC access to a network of around 500,000 restaurants globally, not including the traditional fast-food chains (“we don’t tend to touch those”).

“We’ve chosen California as our target market to launch. The plan is to replicate what we’ve done in Australia, where we’ve captured about 30 per cent of the market,” Warwick said.

“If we can do that in multiple countries, we should be able to hit the 4-5m mark in users. Then it becomes a ‘help us and we’ll help you’ model.”

“Partner-restaurants will be able to use The BC app to send push notifications. And once the train gets even a little bit of motion, it snowballs,” Warwick said.