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Restaurants spend a lot of time and energy attracting new customers, but a startup called BuzzTable says it’s far cheaper to bring back existing customers more often.
The New York City-based startup has built a mobile customer relationship management (CRM) platform that lets restaurants offer deals, loyalty programs, news and even table waiting management, directly to customers’ phones. The company was a part of NYC’s Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator’s first class, all of whom presented on stage during ERA’s demo day today.
BuzzTable launched several weeks ago with its simple table waiting management, which lets restaurants use phones, instead of the more traditional buzzers, to alert restaurant-goers that their table is ready. The company says that buzzers were used over 1 billion times in the last year, but since they’re dumb devices, restaurants had no useful data to gather from them. Buzzers are also expensive (most cost around $50) and get lost easily, often costing restaurants thousands of dollars every year to replace.
With BuzzTables’ platform, restaurants get information about their customers via an iPad app as they’re waiting. Customers waiting for a seat receive a text message telling them when there’s space available, and they’re also directed to download BuzzTable’s app. Restaurants can then use the app to stay in touch with customers by delivering news, or tracking loyalty programs.
BuzzTable says it’s filling a gap created by popular daily deal sites like Groupon, which don’t care if customers end up going back to a particular restaurant.
The company has progressed quickly in its time at ERA. Four months ago it only had basic wireframes (early design prototypes) for its app and service; now it has a fully working product that’s being used by four restaurants in New York City. So far, BuzzTable’s service has helped seat 7,524 people and 1,837 tables. The company is in discussions with national chains, including Ruby Tuesday.
BuzzTable is in the process of raising $750,000, and it hopes to expand to over 300 restaurants and three national chains in the next year. The company was founded by four friends — Warner Siebert, John Williams, John Brennan and Mike Cerrone — who have all previously founded startups.