Archive for the ‘Tacos + Technology’ Category

Taco Loco: Interview with Michael Brewer

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on January 7, 2010

So the other day, Michael Brewer, contacted me to tell me about his new iPhone app: Taco Loco (“Taco as in taco. Loco as in locate.”). I was thrilled, and immediately sent a message out on Twitter. At a $1 (less than the price of most tacos!), how could I refuse? I fired off my questions and lo, he responded. (He also reminded me that his brother Patrick, of Raleigh, N.C., contributed work on the app, too.)

1) How’d you come to make this app?

1) I’m a foodie. I love eating at local restaurants and trying out cuisine from different ethnicities. The taco truck culture is basically the perfect intersection of these two interests – it’s tough to get more local than food off a truck. So, when we were looking for an iPhone project to start, this seemed like a logical fit because of the iPhone’s great location awareness. We were surprised there wasn’t already an app filling this need given the popularity of taco trucks in California!

2) Where do you draw your data from? How’d you input it? Can people add new ones? What territory do you cover?

2) The initial locations that we launched with were drawn from a number of different places. Many of them were entered by our beta testers and we scoured the Internet for locations mentioned in forums, Twitter, Flickr, etc. We launched the app with a few hundred locations. I read somewhere that there is an estimated 14,000 in Los Angeles alone, so there are plenty more to find.

Since the launch we’ve seen a good response from people entering their favorite vendors. We even had Jay from gunsandtacos.com offer up his excellent list of Houston taco trucks shortly after he downloaded and started using Taco Loco.

Giving people the power to enter new spots is very important for tracking something that is transient like street food vendors. Taco Loco also gives people the ability to move a vendor from one point on the map to their current location so that as a taco truck moves through-out the day or over a week the data will be fresh.

We haven’t placed any boundaries on where people can enter new spots. We’d love to see people in Germany entering their favorite döner kebab or currywurst vendors, or people in France adding places to get crêpes (aka the French taco).

3) What’s your programming/taco truck background? What are your favorite taco trucks and iPhone apps? Where do you live?

3) We’re IT guys with a variety of application development experience who love the iPhone for its ease of use and power as a smartphone. Our taco truck background is purely as customers. We live in North Carolina and our favorite taco trucks are Rico Scopes in the RTP area and an unnamed one run by a guy named Juan near Charlotte. Harvest Moon Grille is also a great gourmet food trailer that operates in and around Charlotte — it’s run by farmers and they source all of their ingredients from their own farm or other local farms.

As far as iPhone apps go, we’re inspired by the beautiful work the Tapbots guys do. I’m replying to your mail using their new app called Pastebot. Tweetie and Twitterrific are our Twitter clients of choice. Ramp Champ (beautiful) and Flight Control (addictive) are our favorite games. I also highly recommend that your readers check out Harvest which is a great aid for selecting and storing fruits and vegetables.

4) How many people have downloaded it so far?

4) We did a soft launch and are just now starting to promote the app. We have over 300 downloads as of today. The tweet you sent after discovering us accounts for our largest sales day yet. Thanks!

5) What’s next for you?

5) We have a long roadmap planned for Taco Loco and are eager to release more features in the near future. We’re also reaching out to vendors to get their ideas on how we can best help them.