We took a look at some of the coolest fledgling on-demand startups at Tech Day in New York, including everything from an app that lets you book hotels just for an afternoon, to a service that lets you hire a professional photographer at any time. Most of these services are local to New York, and while some of them have apps available to download, many are still web-only at the moment. Check out our favorites below.
Longing for a taste of home? So was Mariam Ouanaim after she came to the Big Apple from Morocco. It’s why she took it upon herself to try and bring the taste of her mother’s seven-veggies couscous to New York. ForkTrotter launched March 1, and right now exists as a web app that works well on mobile. You can order a dish from any listed country, and a chef will fire up the stove. Once your order is done, you can either pick it up from the chef’s house, or have them deliver it to you. The service is still incredibly new, so it’s only available in select areas in the city. It also only has four countries at the moment — Trinidad, Bulgaria, Morocco, and Jamaica.
Ouanaim told Digital Trends that while ForkTrotter accepts professional chefs, the company also puts a heavy focus on experience, and all chefs have to pass a rigorous cooking test to be hired. Apps are in the “pipeline” and are expected to launch in the next four to five months.
HotelsByDay has been around for a year, and it does exactly what its name implies. The startup is changing the nature of how we think about hotels. Currently, we imagine a 3 p.m. check in, and a 12 p.m. check out time the next day. HotelsByDay has partnered with hotels across various cities to let you to book a room in 4-hour blocks in the morning and afternoon. So if you had a morning layover of a couple of hours, but didn’t want to spend all that time at the airport, you can book a room from one of the available hotels from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, for example. Not only do you get to book a room at your convenience during the day, but the cost is also far lower than what you would pay for a regular room.
Ever needed a professional photographer, like right now? PhotoSesh wants to be the Uber for photographers, allowing you to immediately search for nearby professionals and book them. The prices go from $30 to $75 an hour, depending on what the photographer chooses, and you can see a quick portfolio of their work to see if you like their style. You’re not restricted to booking a photographer for a gig right now, either, you can book them up to 90 days in advance. While it benefits people who just need an event photographed or something of the sort, it’s also a useful tool for photographers looking to make some quick cash in their down time. The iOS app will launch on May 10, and will have more than 5,000 photographers at launch. It will be available in 12 metropolitan areas.
Getting a tour guide at Times Square in New York City can be one of the more painful experiences of visiting the city that never sleeps. You’ll also find yourself packed with other big groups, heading to some of the more generic tourist-centric spots, that often don’t provide a real New York experience. Loki wants to make your trip more personal, and local. You can sign up to be a tour guide if you know the ins and outs of the Big Apple, and if you’re visiting, the iOS app lets you easily hire someone for a flat fee of $60. You can filter your results to better suit your interests, and you can still opt for a group experience if you desire. The startup hopes to expand to other cities as it continues to grow.
Voom is a community-based app that wants to help parents get their kids to places with safe carpools. Voom, or Vehicles Optimally Occupied by Many, works through your own social network of friends that you add in the app, so other drivers are all people you know and not strangers. It’s also not restricted to any one city, as the app depends on the amount of people using it in an area to be useful. You can see which other parents have similar driving needs as your child, or you can create your own carpool and help out people in your community. The app still has a long way to go, as it had a soft launch just recently, but more features are being added by the month, and it’s free at the moment. An Android app is in the works.