First I want to introduce myself. My name is Jason and I am the founder of Find Me Gluten Free. I started with a website in 2010 and have been working on it ever since as the sole developer. I’m actually still the only person whose main focus is FMGF, though I do have a little bit of help now.
I'm celiac and I know firsthand that living with the disease is HARD! We always have to be considering the safety of our next meal and we have to spend more money on food to feel normal. When we do eat something that makes us sick, a wrench is thrown into our plans.
This is the first in a series of pieces I'm writing in order to give you a little bit of insight about the inner workings of FMGF.
We must operate every single day in order to provide this service to everyone, and unfortunately that costs time and money. It might surprise you to learn what it actually takes to keep FMGF up and running, market to celiacs (the more celiacs using and posting reviews, the better for all of us!), and improve the platform.
We are not subsidized by the government or any other organization, so in order to keep providing FMGF to the community, we must make enough money to sustainably do so.
Originally, the app was completely free to everyone, although it didn't have any of the current Premium features. For a long time, we tried to make enough money to be sustainable by selling advertisements. Not only were we unable to cover our costs with just advertisements, but selling ads took focus away from working on the app.
I know a lot of us are used to most apps being free, however, there are only a few select apps that have been able to sustainably make enough money to stay in business while remaining free to use. Nearly all of the successful free apps are mass market apps, and most of them have compromised personal data in order to sell more ads. We will never be a mass market app and I refuse to compromise your personal data.
That being said, FMGF is still very useful without the Premium features. Rest assured, we will always have a free version of the app!
I’ve had conversations with some folks who are upset that we are charging for certain features in our app, mainly the "Most Celiac Friendly" filter. They feel we are exploiting celiacs for monetary gain.
I'd like to give you some insight into who uses FMGF in order to respond to this critique. Over 75% of our monthly users identify as celiac. This app needs to be "celiac first," so I almost exclusively spend my time trying to make the app better for celiacs.
Since the app is mainly for celiacs, we need to rely on support from the celiac community in the form of Premium subscriptions. Without this support, FMGF would not be sustainable and would eventually have to be shut down.
The "Most Celiac Friendly" filter is a feature I created to make it a little bit quicker to accomplish some of the actions I typically found myself frequently doing when using the app. I see it as a "nice to have" that saves you some time. There are no restaurants that are only shown when using the filter as opposed to the other free filters/sorts.
Basically it finds and sorts businesses based on the following:
Although I’ve put a lot of effort into it already, I know that the "Most Celiac Friendly" filter is still far from perfect. I currently have some ideas about how to continue to make it better. I plan to write about some of the ideas in a future piece!
No worries! I know not everyone will be able to go Premium. $20 per year is definitely not a trivial amount of money for an app! If you want to support us in other ways, please write reviews and add new businesses (go to the "More" tab of the app, then tap "Add a Business").
If you're looking for the "Most Celiac Friendly" places, I recommend doing a combination of a "Dedicated Facilities" search first and then a "Best Rated" search. You will still find all the same restaurants and businesses doing this as you would with the "Most Celiac Friendly" filter.
Please feel free to email me at [email protected] to let me know what you think about this or if you have a request for me to address in my next piece!