Siblings Landon Fahlman and Karissa Peterson have a history of building solutions that solve business problems. They previously designed and developed Fuel Lock: an automatic fuel monitoring system that locks your fuel and allows you to view usage anytime and anywhere. After they sold that product to IntraGrain Technologies in 2018, Fahlman had a new idea to make it easy for friends to find places to meet up for food and drinks. Tired of relying on Google and outdated apps for answers, Fahlman teamed up with his sister to develop spothot.
“I sat on this idea for six to eight months while we were running Fuel Lock,” Fahlman shares. “When I won Cultivator’s pitch competition in April 2020, I dragged my sister into it, and we were committed to the idea.”
spothot is an app that lets people know where to go for food, drinks, or events. Through the app, users can find happy hours, discover new pop up shops, enjoy daily food specials and more. Fahlman explains. “Users can search for spots within seconds, and restaurants can set their specials and take advantage of real-time marketing solutions and send real-time push notifications to users in the surrounding area.”
The spothot app is simple and easy to use, with up-to-date information that is always relevant for users. Unlike opening up Google Maps and searching for restaurants nearby, the platform provides more accurate information, such as information on a specific dish or drink. If a restaurant is closed that day, it won’t show up as an option at the time that you’re searching.
For business owners, spothot is a tool to reach new and existing customers. “Whether they are running a restaurant or bar, farmers market, or trade show, owners can go right into the portal to share new specials or flash sales and send out push notifications to people in their area,” Fahlman says. “Changing menus can be costly and time-consuming, but this way, it's done effectively in just a few minutes.”
“The idea has changed a lot, especially with COVID,” Fahlman says. With changing hours and strict capacity restrictions, spothot keeps safety top of mind. Along with having a pulse on occupancy and seeing whether spots are open or closed, each establishment's COVID-19 precautions are included in the app so that users know the protocol before they go.
"We have also included the ability for digital COVID contact tracing as an additional feature on the portal," Fahlman adds. "It has successfully helped track over 10,000 contacts to aid with SHA efforts and take pressure off of restaurants."
Another feature that the team is working on right now is real-time occupancy. “Rather than people saying, ‘it’s this restaurant, it’s going to be packed!’ users will have the ability to see how full a place is before they go,” Fahlman shares. Helping both businesses and users, customers can see how busy their favourite spot is instead of not even attempting to go to the restaurant.
In three months of testing their app in Regina, spothot got 250 app users and ten different spots. After receiving feedback from early adopters, spothot launched publicly on the app store in early November and doubled their app users. The team plans to move into Saskatoon next and grow their spots and userbase there.
Being a company in Cultivator’s GROW Program, Fahlman shares, “a lot of great tech wouldn’t exist without the programs like Cultivator or Co.Labs. Over the past two years, these programs have totally been a foundation for a lot of companies—myself included.”
The sibling duo plans to continue growing spothot in Saskatchewan, and they are thrilled by all of the willingness to help here. “In bigger places, people tend to overlook new products,” Fahlman says. “People really understand startups here. It’s a small province, and everyone is always asking how the business is going, happy to go the extra mile to help, and try out your product and endorse it.”
Founders: Landon Fahlman, Karissa Peterson
Incorporation Date: February 2020