The Cheese Touch


I hope everyone had a great St. Patrick’s Day and weekend, I spent all day Friday travelling and the rest of the weekend catching up on some sleep and overdosing on March Madness.

I hope some of your brackets are still intact. I found myself tied for first out of 46 until Purdue lost, who I had winning it all. Now I’m stuck looking like this, while everyone else still has a chance to win the pool.


Now, onto the good stuff. I’m back and I have a good one for ya today!

What did you think about that?

Yelp was truly a disruptor.

That may be hard to imagine now, but publicly sourcing reviews and getting away from the critic-centric review landscape was disruptive. I haven’t met anyone who’s a food critic in years now, but I do meet people who use Yelp to help them decide on where to eat.

And it’s kinda weird. When Yelp started, nobody thought it would work because the public wasn’t trained to write reviews, people would leave purposefully misleading reviews as a joke, and nobody would trust it.

But as the number of reviews increased, the accuracy began to zero in on a true depiction (value in numbers) of quality, and adoption rapidly increased. People found the reviews relatable and accessible. For the first time ever, you could find out what the public thought about you local IHOP, instead of only being able to see what a renowned critic thought of the nearest Michelin 4-star restaurant.

It was essentially the decentralization of reviews and ratings – now gamified and incentivized.

People are catching on

Yelp clearly owns the space for the large ticket items (restaurants, ice cream, etc.), but we’re seeing websites and apps pop up in more niche categories. Categories that have so much variety that it’d be hard for one person, or a group of people to capture.

The two that come to mind for me:

  • Untappd: crowdsources reviews and description of local and multinational beer.
  • Vivino: crowdsources reviews and descriptions of local and multinational wine

These two sites do the same thing that Yelp does, but for beer and wine, things that few people are experts on, but most people care about.

Next time your at the store deciding on what wine to pair with dinner? Pull up the app and find the perfect one (or at least better than your own opinion) in minutes.

How do they make money?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple. If you buy from their site, they will take an affiliate cut. They also run newsletters with weekly deals, sell professionally prepared gift baskets, and run ads on their sites.

And that’s enough to sell. Untappd recently acquired BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, both competitors, for 7-8 figures.

The next big thing

Something that has burst on the scene recently? Charcuterie.

Hosting a SuperBowl party? Make a charcuterie board. Having a pregame? Have a charcuterie board. Welcoming a neighbor to the neighborhood? Gift them a charcuterie board. Bored and just looking for something to do? Make a charcuterie board.

People love charcuterie, and the key ingredient to any good charcuterie board is cheese.

People love a good cheese. I don’t love cheese, but if you hand me a good one I’ll eat it.

And if you can’t tell from all of these really weird stock photos, people. love. cheese.

Yes, I did steal these photos from Shutterstock, don’t tell on me. 

Anyways, I think cheese is the perfect market for another one of these crowdsourced review apps. There’s a ton of variety, it’s difficult to tell a good cheese from a bad cheese at the store, and people are fanatical about it. 

Cheezus and LeCheese both claim to do this, but after checking them both out, I don’t think either have mastered it or captured the market.

The Grazing Table

What better person to sponsor a post about charcuterie boards than someone who can make one for you! You want someone who knows cheese? The Grazing Table knows cheese. they pick all of the perfect pairings for you and your group. Their charcuterie boards are second to none, so go check them out Kalamazoo people!  #ad


Final thoughts

While there are already some players in the space, it’s really a game of user acquisition, because as I mentioned earlier, the power comes with numbers. Yelp didn’t become popular until it had enough users to paint an accurate picture.

Cheezus and LeCheese aren’t super popular because they haven’t acquired enough users yet and their interfaces kinda suck.

Either way, whether it’s cheese, beer, or wine crowdsourcing could be a fantastic move when you find something with great variety and a large amount of fandom. Let me know if you can think of any others!

Shoutout to Kav, a trip to Denver, and some bad cheese for the idea.

from, matt

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