Business

New app for wait staff & diners takes restaurants into the future

Imagine a soup-to-nuts app that would let you find a good restaurant nearby, make a reservation, order, and pay all in a few clicks and swipes — and imagine the restauranteurs in your area have the same level of sophistication and technological access.

Imagine sitting down at a restaurant, viewing a menu on your phone, then ordering and paying for your food with a mobile phone, as well. Imagine your server taking your order on his phone and delivering it to the digitally wired kitchen, all in an instant.

That sort of end-to-end tech for restaurants and diners is what Pham Khac Tan imagined back in 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tan was a dentist by trade and had worked for and owned other businesses in healthcare and distribution ; however, the entrepreneur told VentureBeat, “I always dreamed about making my own products in Vietnam and marketing them to the U.S. and international [markets].”

Tan pointed out during our interview that around 42,000 restaurants open every year, and 30 percent of them close within their first year of operations. New restaurants are also notoriously slow to reach profitability, and they can constitute a huge risk for investors and business owners. Tan saw the issues and risk as an opportunity.

He identified three major issues to address first with an digital system, Bynow [site still in stealth]. First, restaurants carry a very high startup cost. Second, the business management side is quite complicated. Third, finding and keeping customers is a huge challenge.

Bynow, Tan said, can help to reduce costs, simplify management, and make marketing and retention a lot easier. The app itself is a rather sprawling piece of technology that acts as an all-in-one problem solver for both restauranteurs and their customers. On the marketing side, Bynow provides mechanisms for creating deals and promoting events. It acts as a food ordering system — and as a former waitress myself, I know how badly that software needs a refresh. And for customers, it’s the social, searchable sort of app we’ve come to expect in the food category.

One of Bynow’s biggest problems, however, is its ambition. It’s attempting to cure all the ills of the food service industry with a single magic bullet. Tan struggled to make the app understandable in a long, complicated demonstration onstage here at the DEMO Spring 2012 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., which doesn’t bode well for the app’s usability.

Whether the app and the concept of an end-to-end food service platform take off remains to be seen, but Tan truly is thinking big and attempting to bring futuristic concepts into current realities.

To date, Bynow’s 50-person team has taken a small amount of funding from friends and family, as well as from market experts in finance and IT. The company’s next steps, said Tan, including moving his team to Silicon Valley, building out a U.S. team, and prepping for a summer 2012 launch.

Bynow is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

Image courtesy of conrado, Shutterstock


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