Photo: Norma Lopez Molina
Smith's advice to entrepreneurs: "Start now, go fast and learn as you go. The successes you gain throughout will keep you encouraged. If you can, work in a co-working space because it will motivate you every day because you are seeing other people achieving their goals."
Wasting No Time
An Orlando startup wants to help restaurateurs and provide a social benefit at the same time.
Aneshai Smith, Founder
Go See The City, Orlando
About 30% of a typical city’s food waste comes from restaurants. Aneshai Smith wants to do something about that while helping restaurants thrive. Her Orlando-based startup, Go See The City, offers digital coupons for deep discounts on unsold food before restaurants close for the day.
While many cities have a mission to reduce food waste, they rely on volunteers to bring leftover food to homeless shelters, and there is no tracking. “That's how we came up with working with cities to show them the exact amount, to the ounce, of how much food waste was reduced within a ZIP code,” Smith says. For the restaurants, Go See The City’s real-time data can reveal ways they can reduce food waste and save money.
How It Works
Say a taco restaurant has 100 tacos left a few hours from closing. The restaurant can log into its Go See The City dashboard and instantly create a coupon that is sent to Go See The City app users. Any tacos not sold are donated to an area charity, a process also facilitated by the app. Restaurants pay a monthly fee starting at $125. Go See The City also is establishing contracts with municipalities. The service's analytics additionally help cities measure civic engagement, assist local businesses with marketing and identify over or underused areas of town. The coupon service is free for app users.
Go See The City, started last year, has four employees and a handful of contractors and advisers, including Sylvia Wilson Thomas, interim vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida. Smith estimates the company will have more than 20,000 users by midyear, when she also plans to have at least 100 Orlando area restaurants on the platform. To help her grow, she completed a four-month accelerator program by Boston-based Leading Cities, a top program for smart city innovation, in December. The accelerator connected her with Go See The City’s first municipal partner, Gainesville. Up to 200 Gainesville restaurants will be joining the service over the next year, Smith says.
Go See The City not only helps food-insecure populations by facilitating discounts and by partnering with charities, it also drives traffic to area restaurants still trying to recover from the pandemic.
A Born Brand Ambassador
Smith was born in Germany to a military family who moved around, although she has lived in Central Florida for more than a decade. Prior to college, she worked as a brand ambassador. “When you go to festivals, you see the Cadillac girls, State Farm girls and things of that nature. It's always been a huge passion. My favorite thing was always introducing someone to a brand. You only have a few seconds before you lose their attention.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida in social work and started an MBA program but did not finish. Instead, before the pandemic she formed a marketing-tech company best known for staging grand opening events, particularly for restaurant franchises. She also partnered with Orange County to push foot traffic to restaurants through deal offers, events and tours.
Smith is aiming to expand to more cities and wants to partner with large festivals and universities.