New Restaurant Review Platform Backed by John Legend Seeks to Accentuate the Positive

The new start-up, called It’s Good, is aiming to disrupt the online review system. Unlike traditional platforms, It’s Good will only allow positive reviews about a restaurant.
By Lea MIra, RTN staff writer - 10.30.2023

The hospitality industry is no stranger to the power of online reviews. Websites like Yelp have become a critical factor in a restaurant’s success, with negative reviews potentially impacting a business’s ranking on search engines and affecting its bottom line. However, the system has been criticized for its potential to be weaponized, with businesses sometimes targeted by competitors or criminals with negative reviews.

In response to this, a new start-up called It’s Good is aiming to disrupt the online review system. Unlike traditional platforms, It’s Good will only allow positive reviews about a restaurant. The platform is currently in development and is backed and co-founded by singer John Legend and tech partner Mike Rosenthal.

The concept behind It’s Good is to create a trusted network of users who can share their positive experiences about the food places they love. The user base will be exclusive, with members needing an invitation to join. The network will consist of foodies, chefs, celebrities, and influencers.

CEO Mike Rosenthal and John Legend

The platform will not allow negative reviews, positioning itself as a place for recommendations rather than criticism. The founders are taking a long-term approach, focusing on building the right user base before considering potential revenue streams. Future revenue may come from a reservation commission through the platform or through brand collaborations.

Online reviews have become a critical factor in a restaurant’s success, with businesses with more positive Google reviews ranking higher in search, being viewed as more credible, and potentially seeing an increase in revenue. However, the review ecosystem has been criticized, with chefs often referring to websites like Yelp as a “garbage fire.”

‘It’s Good’ aims to change this by focusing on sharing recommendations for travel, food, and experiences rather than objections. The idea was conceived by Legend and Rosenthal about four years ago and developed during the pandemic. The team’s current focus is on growing its user base, with potential revenue streams to be considered later.

The app’s success will depend on its reputation and trustworthiness. To ensure this, the team is working on strategies to diversify their user population. The app is currently invite-only, but once it goes live, it will feature recommendations from influencers, professional reviewers, celebrities, and other public figures, alongside personal social media connections.

The app will not use star ratings. Instead, it will feature recommendations and lists of favorites sorted by location or theme and wishlists users and brands want to visit. The app is designed to help users save a list of their favorite places and those they want to visit, and share those lists with friends and followers.

It’s Good was founded in 2021 and is based in Los Angeles. The start-up recently received a $5 million investment from venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners in a pre-seed round of funding. The app is currently in a limited beta stage and is taking waitlist submissions.

Despite the saturated market in the travel tech sector of apps for restaurant reviews, ‘It’s Good’ aims to modernize online reviews and recommendations. The start-up will face competition from established platforms like Google, Yelp, and Tripadvisor, as well as emerging apps.

Indeed, the landscape of online reviews and recommendations is rapidly evolving, with a surge of new consumer apps entering the market. Entrepreneurs are increasingly leveraging the latest advancements in AI to modernize this space. One such example is Atmosfy, an app that allows users to leave video reviews of dining and nightlife experiences. In August, the company successfully raised $12 million, signaling strong investor confidence in its innovative approach to online reviews. By incorporating video reviews, Atmosfy provides a more immersive and authentic review experience, allowing users to visually share their dining and nightlife experiences.

This trend towards modernization and the use of AI is not limited to Atmosfy. Other start-ups are also exploring innovative ways to enhance the online review and recommendation process. From AI-powered recommendation algorithms to advanced sentiment analysis tools, technology is playing a pivotal role in reshaping the online review landscape. However, the founding It’s Good team’s celebrity status is expected to give the platform a boost.