Quick Pitch: Take the wait list with you and get notifications when your table is ready.
Genius Idea: Scan QR codes to save your place on multiple wait lists.
Proving that nine guys can successfully launch a startup in 48 hours on a bus, WalkIN is walking away from SXSW Interactive a big winner. The now one-week-old startup, which lets users save their places on restaurant wait lists by scanning a QR code at the door, shared the top prize in the StartupBus grand finale and is on its way to becoming a legitimate company.
The WalkIN experience is straightforward. Consumers use an iPhone or Android app to scan a QR code to reserve their place on the wait list. Merchants manage the queue via an iOS or HTML5 app, adjust wait times and manually add new guests to the list.
The first version of WalkIN launched at SXSW is QR code-only, but the founders now realize they need to add an SMS option to the service to reach all consumers.
The StartupBus environment helped make WalkIN a winning idea, says co-founder Bhavin Shah. “It was magic that was occurring,” he says. Team members naturally gravitated towards each other and worked harmoniously, circumstances that helped the nine guys evolve their ideas rapidly, beating out their competitors across the six-bus fleet.
Those excited by WalkIN’s promise to keep their place in the line should temper their enthusiasm for a more few weeks. Being just days old, WalkIN ins’t accessible to consumers just yet, though Shah explains that this will soon change. The startup is already talking to a handful of restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Sydney who are interested in testing the service in the coming weeks.
WalkIN’s idea is not entirely new, and there’s a smattering of competition in the virtual line space. But, with other startups such as Textaurant securing funding and no clear standout that owns the local merchant side of the equation, there’s plenty of opportunity here.
The young startup has fielded investment offers of its own, but has turned them down. WalkIN is going through a transition phase, according to Shah. Its unusual origins mean that team members must individually determine whether they want to peruse this full-time or keep their day jobs, he says.
Still, the startup is ready to graduate from the hyper-accelerator format of the StartupBus to a real-world environment. The team’s first order of business is to add new features, get merchants signed on and improve the overall user experience of the apps.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
QR Codes + Restaurants = WalkIN