NoWait Restaurant App Going National-Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, January 3, 2014

NoWait Restaurant App Going National

Waiting for ashtray-sized restaurant pagers to sound off before hungry toddlers do could become a distant memory if a local smartphone app's national launch models its Pittsburgh debut.

NoWait, an iOS app that lets consumers search restaurant wait times, add names to waiting lists, check their place in line and receive texts from restaurants when their tables are ready, will be available throughout the country early this year, said Ware Sykes, CEO of the Oakland-based company.

Founded by a group that includes Carnegie Mellon University graduate Robb Meyer as an Alpha Lab company, in 2012 NoWait raised $2 million from a group of investors that includes South Side-based Birchmere Ventures. In September, the company raised an additional $2 million from an unnamed investor.

Preparation for the national launch comes less than six months after the app was released in Pittsburgh, in large part because of what Mr. Sykes called a "phenomenal response" locally.

When the app was released in September, it was connected to five area restaurants. Today, the app has a 97 percent approval rating, operates in more than 50 local restaurants and has seated thousands, including nearly 50,000 people in the first two weeks of December. Additionally, since September the app has cut its users' average wait time for a seat down from a high of 90 minutes to around five minutes.

"We're giving people the most precious thing in life back: their time," said Mr. Sykes.

With the integration of social media features that tell friends where you are waiting in line and sends Facebook or Twitter messages to friends telling them their name has been added to a wait list and an option to see which nearby restaurants are using NoWait, Mr. Sykes said the app is at an ideal stage for national growth...Read more»

By: Deborah M. Todd