What’s the Big Idea?
If you think about it, pizza is a lot like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. But when it’s great – think crisp-edged Neapolitan garnished with fresh basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil – it can be a life-altering, cheesegasmic, trans-fat-cendental experience. The Top Pizza Places iPhone app is the matchmaker fanning the flames.
What's the app do?
Curated by an expert team of pizza researchers, Top Pizza Places will aggregate thousands of pizza reviews and recommendations from media and food critics. Sources will include national, regional, and local magazines, as well as newspapers, reputable websites and blogs. Think of the app as a Rotten Tomatoes for pizza restaurants, but with tomatoes that are vine-ripened and juicy and not at all rotten.
Structurally, the app will be built on an interactive map of the handpicked pizza places. Each restaurant will have a detailed profile supplying review excerpts, contact info, web links, mouth-watering photos, and all the crucial pizza prep details you need to get your fix (e.g. style, oven type, cooking temperature).
Give these screenshot mock-ups a gander to see what we mean:
What makes Top Pizza Places so special?
To put it simply: Copious data and superb functionality. The Top Pizza Places restaurant database will be robust enough for the hungriest of users, and searchable by name, location, pizza type, review date, cooking method, etc. Read snippets of each review or navigate to the full text with the tap of a sauce-smeared finger. Leave reviews and photos directly from your iPhone while you’re still basking in your post-meal afterglow. Check in at the restaurant, then brag to your friends about how delicious your Sicilian pie with anchovies was. Add pizza places to your bucket list. Customize your map and share it with friends. This is serious business. You get the idea.
So, how's it different from Yelp and Zagat?
First, the obvious: Top Pizza Places is just for pizza. The restaurants included are genuine pizza places, NOT restaurants that just so happen to have a few pizzas on their menu. Pizza is their specialty, nay, their CALLING.
Secondly: These restaurants have been selected due to their critical acclaim, as awarded by reputable websites and publications. Any schmo with a keyboard can bang out a Yelp review. Call us pizza snobs, but we give far more credence to reviews written by competent and impartial food critics.
Thirdly: With such a niche focus, we can drill down our data to an incredibly granular level. For each restaurant, we'll be researching what types of pizzas are served and how they're prepared (e.g. oven type, cooking temperature, etc.). Users can search for restaurants serving the EXACT type of pizza they want. You can't do that on Yelp or Zagat.
And last of all: Because we're not total elitists, we'll be opening the map to user nominations. Users can suggest acclaimed pizza places (preferably along with a published review) for consideration. Our expert team of pizza reviewers will scour the web to ensure that the restaurant does, in fact, serve top-notch pizza. While we can't guarantee that all (or even most) nominated restaurants will make the cut, we'll certainly give each of them a fair shake.
Where’s my money going?
Like a well-made artisan pizza, building a data-intensive app requires lots of time, love, and dough (pun intended). This ain’t Domino’s here. While we’ve already assembled our top-secret team of researchers and developers, they don’t work for crust scraps and old pepperoni. Your generous donations will go toward research, surveys, database creation, development, hosting, maintenance, and marketing.
What does my donation get me?
Glad you finally asked.
For a donation of $1: Receive instant karma from the pizza Gods, plus the comfort of knowing you'll soon be able to find the very best pizza in the country using Top Pizza Places.
For a donation of $5: Get listed in the app as a contributor and upstanding pizza eater, plus top-secret notification for a free early download before the app's price is raised to $2.99. You're welcome to let your friends in on the secret too, provided they're also bona fide pizzaphiles.
For a donation of $7: All previous rewards plus a nifty "Know Pizza?" bumper sticker to proudly display on your rocket-powered Pizzamobile. (Note: rocket-powered Pizzamobile not included).
For a donation of $9: All previous rewards, plus contribute your favorite pizza place to a "Donor Recommended" map within the app, with credits included.
For a donation of $25: All previous rewards plus plus a totally rad poster of the "100 Pizzas to Try Before You Die" OR a limited-edition "Know Pizza?" t-shirt.
Mike and Zoe modeling the Know Pizza? t-shirt
For a Donation of $40: All previous rewards, but you get the totally rad poster AND the limited-edition t-shirt. Any way you slice it, this is a great deal.
Risks and challenges
To be honest, the risks are minimal. We've developed scores of highly-rated iPhone apps. Just search the iTunes store for "MapMuse" to see our portfolio.
As far as rewards go, delays are always possible if our production estimates are blown out of the water. But that'd be a great problem to have, wouldn't it?
Wait! I have a suggestion to make the app better!
Great! We love feedback. Donors will receive preliminary screenshots, and can send in development suggestions. While we can't guarantee we'll implement everyone's ideas, we'll certainly do our best to take them into account.
And to reward you for reading this far, we'll now regale you with our favorite pizza joke...
...never mind, it's too cheesy.
About the Team
Mike Pilon - "Chief Expert Researcher" and Project Manager
Hi, my name is Mike Pilon, owner of MapMuse.com and father of an eight year old daughter. One of the many things my daughter and I share is our love of pizza.
When I say we love pizza it reminds me of the Billy Crystal joke where he advises the audience to never say you love pie; it's not really saying anything that everyone doesn't already know. I mean, everyone loves pie! It's a given. But in my experience, saying that “everyone loves pizza pie” is a lot more accurate than saying “everyone loves pie.” But I digress … the long and the short of it is, Zoe and I love pizza. (As a side note, so does my wife Cindy. Hi Cindy!)
In the Pilon household, we grill pizza, we bake pizza, we make dough and sauce … I even bought a turn-of-the-century wood burning kitchen oven that I’m in the process of converting to an outdoor pizza oven. Needless to say, we have a passion for both making and eating pizza.
After learning about some of the iPhone apps that MapMuse has developed over the years, Zoe came to me and requested that we create an app about candy. Shocker, huh … an eight year old interested in candy! Well, pizza isn’t candy, but it’s pretty darn close in Zoe’s eyes. She’s recently become very excited about us developing TopPizzaPlaces, as she believes — and rightfully so — that it’ll result in us eating more pizza. To show her support, Zoe has created a video promoting the pizza poster that we're offering as a contributor reward: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ias4O9ME1fo&feature=youtu.be
So, I hereby dedicate this campaign to my eight-year-old pizza pie-loving daughter, Zoe. And who knows, if TopPizzaPlaces is successful Zoe might eventually get her wish for a candy app.
Thanks for your contributions.
Neil Gauthier - "Chief Technology Guy" and Part-Time T-Shirt Designer
Hello, I'm Neil Gauthier and I wanted to tell you a story about the first time I ever tried pizza.
I can still remember it: taking my tray from the stack, nervously waiting in line, getting that lukewarm rectangle from a lady in a hair net. Yes, the first pizza I ever had was at a school cafeteria. And I still loved it! I couldn't get enough of it, and a life-long love of pizza was born.
Clearly (or at least we can hope) my tastes have grown over the years and I now appreciate all manner of pies from gourmet wood-fired works of art to the simple Friday-night special our family puts together with supermarket dough. No matter how you slice it, pizza is just the best. In fact, it's easy to think that combining cheese, sauce, crust and toppings is a fool-proof recipe for success - but we all know that's not true. Some pizzas are better than others, and great pizza which seems like it "just works" is in fact a deceptively complex combination of fresh distinctive ingredients with precise cooking styles and ingredients.
In fact, that's something that pizza and software have in common: the best pizzas, like the best apps, make it look easy. They take care of all the complex stuff behind the scenes and leave you just worrying about whether to have three slices or four. Our goal for the TopPizzaPlaces app is to make finding the best pizzas just that easy, so that no matter where you happen to be you can find fresh flavorful and unique pizzas to try and share with your friends and family. Thanks in advance for supporting our project and helping us make that a reality.
Also, we'd be remiss if we didn't give a shout-out to Charlie, our copywriter and videographer. Thanks, Charlie!