Gluten-Free? This App Shows the Best Dishes Nearby

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Name: Grande Labs

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Quick Pitch: Grande Labs makes an app called Dish Freely that sorts gluten-free restaurant items by dish or restaurant.

Genius Idea: Making it simple to eat out gluten-free.

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Gluten-free eating just got a whole lot more interesting and easier for iPhone users.

Often, gluten-free eaters feel restricted when eating out. They go to the same restaurants that are gluten-free certified and don't enjoy the spontaneous restaurant choosing of non-gluten-free eaters. Gluten Freely, an iOS app that helps connect gluten-free eaters with amazing food, is hoping help gluten-free eaters branch out.

People with Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance can't properly digest gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. Three million Americans have Celiac Disease, and the Center for Celiac Disease in Maryland reported one out of seven people will have a gluten intolerance in their lifetime. The gluten-free food market has exploded as more and more people are diagnosed with gluten allergies.

“If you’re not gluten-free, Dish Freely is not for you,” said David DeRemer, CEO of Grande Labs.

Most gluten-free eaters use Yelp or rely on bloggers to find gluten-free restaurants. But Grande Labs creators DeRemer, Roger Wong and Luke Freeman said Dish Freely offers a better discovery experience for gluten-free people when they are going out to eat.

The Gluten Freely app allows gluten-free eaters to submit and rate gluten-free dishes that they ate while dining out. Users can search for specific dishes -- say macaroni and cheese -- and the app will pull up reviews of the best gluten-free macaroni in the city. A user can also search by restaurants to find the best gluten-free dishes at a particular venue. The dish reviews are completely user generated. Users can upload photos of the dish, add comments about the dish and check into Foursquare while eating the dish.

"From what I know, we are the only app out there that you can look for a specific dish and rate the dish," DeRemer said.

Since the app launched on Feb. 22 in New York City, more than 500 people have downloaded the app. The creators of the app are working with Foursquare to gather location information for restaurants and nightlife already recognized for gluten-free items. Over the next few months, Gluten Freely could be available in cities nationwide.

In January, Foursquare teamed up with SinglePlatform to provide its users with more than 250,000 menus and pricing information. Gluten Freely plans to use SinglePlatform's menus to identify gluten-free items.

The startup isn't profitable yet, but DeRemer says they do have a revenue model in mind. Gravity Labs plans to allow brands and venues to purchase subscriptions in order to gain more advanced control over menu listings. DeRemer said he wants brands to add their own gluten-free dishes to the app. In addition, venues can sponsor listings to promote their venue or a particular gluten-free item. It also plans to charge brands, venues and service providers for API and data access.

"One of the biggest challenges for brands is telling customers where their product can be found," DeRemer said. "Gluten Freely can help solve that problem."

Gluten free eaters — have you tested out the app? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments below.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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