NoWait, because why wait?
We've all been there - excited to try a new restaurant, going out with friends or a significant other, or just hitting up your favorite joint for a bite to eat - so close to sititng down and enjoying a meal, but there's a 20 minute wait time (maybe more!) and the hunger is creeping up. Enter NoWait, the iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, that gives you real-time updates directly to any smartphone and sends you a text message when your table is ready.
With help from Startup America, NoWait was dubbed a Tech Award Finalist at SXSW in 2012 and has been able to make connections with the startup community in Pittsburgh. Learn more about the NoWait team below.
What inspired you to start your company?
I was waiting for a restaurant table in San Francisco and I thought I should have more real time information into my wait, making the entire process easier.
Tell us about your product or service
NoWait is an iOS Native App for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It serves as a Mobile Wait List for restaurants. Restaurant Hosts use NoWait to take a customer’s number and send a text to the customer on any type of phone when the table is ready. Smartphone users can also see their place in line while waiting via NoWait.
NoWait syncs over the cloud allowing restaurants to manage their wait list from anywhere, notably the restaurant floor instead of running back up to the host stand. Further, NoWait uses the cloud feature to capture rich analytics and deliver a daily email to restaurants to make improvements. Guests can text back when they're on the way or if they have to cancel, and restaurants can further engage guests w/ SMS marketing - both while they wait (e.g. a drink special) or in the future (e.g. marketing list).
Tell us something unique about you and your co-founders
NoWait's success is very genuinely based on the founding team of four that we have. Each member of the team owned a unique area of the business, rounding out the team and giving us the best opportunity for success. Interestingly, the team uniquely came together through some chance encounters. We met Luke Panza (marketing) in a restaurant where he was working between marketing jobs. Robb and James were at the restaurant to interview the owners about the idea for NoWait when Luke introduced himself.
What problem does your product or service solve?
NoWait solves 2 problems: 1 - For the waiting guest, there is no need to stand around waiting - the guest is told to "wait where you want"; 2 - For the restaurant, NoWait resolves a very misunderstood part of operations: managing a wait list.
When a restaurant is busy, the confusion and disorganization actually loses the restaurant business as customer service diminishes. Quoting times is very difficult, guests become frustrated, and further guests often walk off with their pager (little hockey-puck sized buzzers), costing the restaurant even more money. NoWait simplifies hosting, connects the waiting guest to the restaurant by the cell phone, thereby freeing the guest and eliminating pager-loss.
What are your startup's three biggest challenges to growth?
1 - Developing the right partner relationships
2 - Technology adoption lifecycle in the restaurant industry
3 - Developing a highly functional product that is simple and easy to use for an un-savvy user
How has the Startup America Partnership helped you overcome these challenges to growth?
Startup America significantly promoted NoWait at SXSW 2012, helping us pitch on stage and in front of panels. The Friday seminars have also been very helpful.
What Startup America Member Benefits have you used?
Google Adwords, FedEx, The Resumator
Why should startups join Startup America?
To be a part of the bigger startup community.
What is the startup culture like in your City/State?
Pittsburgh has seen a rejuvenation of business - a real rebirth in a city that had lost 2/3rds of its population. Our startup accelerator Alphalab has been a wonderful resource, and technology is at the forefront of business in pittsburgh. Startups are popping up everywhere, with notable companies starting to make an imprint on the larger national scale. it's a great time to be in Pittsburgh.
NoWait also works in a very cool startup space called StartUptown, which is a collaborative workspace dedicated to building companies and rebuilding the blighted neighborhood of Uptown (startuptown.org).
What else should we highlight about your startup?
NoWait was selected as a SXSW 2012 Tech award finalist. NoWait has seated over 4Million guests. NoWait had little funding initially, bootstrapping for 2 years on a shoestring to get to the Series A round.