Five questions in Five minutes with Twizoo founder Madeline Parra

Madeline Parra

An app that puts online reviewers out of business?!

Twizoo is an app that gives restaurant recommendations based on what people are saying on Twitter, and therefore probably one that I shouldn’t be promoting. After all, its premise is designed to put people like me out of work. Why read online (or print) reviews when you can see what people are really saying about an establishment, via Twitter. Having said that I have downloaded it on my phone, and in my neck of the woods (Brixton), it looks pretty good, if not exactly comprehensive. So to understand what is next for this small app upstart, I caught up with the founder and owner Madeline Parra, to find out a little bit more.

1. Hi Madeline and thank you for taking your time. So tell me, how did you come up with the idea for Twizoo?

Thanks for talking with me! I came up with the idea for Twizoo when I was on holiday with friends in Barcelona. I got assigned to find us a restaurant one night, so I went straight to review sites to pick a place. Except the place that was "recommended" turned out to be awful. Like, really awful. The reviews must have been fake-- written by the manager or family or… who knows. My friends gave me a pretty hard time about picking that restaurant! I've always been a big fan of Twitter and thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I had a better way of seeing what real people were saying about places right now?" That's how Twizoo came into being.

2. Great stuff and how does it actually work?

Basically, we use algorithms that look at all the tweets about London's restaurant and pub scene. There have been millions since January 2014 alone! In fact, there are 7 tweets about London restaurants and pubs to every one review on TripAdvisor. The algorithms check out what exactly everyone is Tweeting— the good, the bad, and who’s Tweeting what— so that we can get a reliable view of what's hot (or not!) right now. Then, we cook all that down into our app so you can quickly see what’s best nearby, and all across London.

3. Do you have a formal or commercial relationship with Twitter?

Twitter has been very supportive of Twizoo. When we've had tech questions, their tech team has been very responsive while we’ve been building Twizoo.

4. Do you see it ultimately replacing the need for Trip Advisor and online reviewers like me?!

Twizoo believes that by tapping into Twitter, we can give people great crowd-sourced opinions and recommendations—possibly better that what you can get from TripAdvisor. As for you and other independent online reviewers, you're all part of Twizoo! When an online reviewer tweets something about a restaurant or pub, those tweets get picked up and displayed in Twizoo. You’re helping Twizoo know what’s what— so please keep going!

5. And finally to end on something I like to ask all of our interview subjects - what is your favourite restaurant or pub in London right now?

That's a tough one. Twizoo has made me more adventurous with where I go, as I’m finding myself trying new places more often. My current favourite is The Palomar. The chefs do shots with customers— pretty quirky if I do say so myself.