This story is for VIPs. Or would-be VIPs.
Tablelist, a platform for booking VIP tables and “bottle service,” closed $1.5 million in seed funding in June and, because it was oversubscribed, yesterday extended that round to $2 million total — all to help important people handle some annoying inconveniences.
The idea came to CEO/founder Julian Jung as he was travelling in Brazil last year.
We “couldn’t get a table” at clubs, he told VentureBeat, “and we didn’t know the gameplan” for getting in.
It seemed like a fragmented market ready for disruption, Jung thought. So he came back to his base in Boston and started the company.
Clubs and high-end restaurants get a venue-side iOS or Android app for managing any table inventory they want to make available to Tablelisters. “Some are still using Excel spreadsheets to manage their tables,” Jung told us.
The inventory is offered for up to seven days, and a user can book a table, pay for it, split that tab between friends, and book bottle or table service, all from the app. Bookings generate rewards that can be redeemed for VIP-ish goodies, like black car service, additional bottles, and — if you’ve really piled up those rewards — private jet service.
Jung said the fee for a table could start at $100 for four people and go up to a nosebleeding $10,000 for four to six. The table fee is usually a minimum against the alcohol tab, although it sometimes includes food orders.
Bottle or table service, for those of us who didn’t know, means you get seated without waiting in lines, have your own space, and get a dedicated wait-person.
But doesn’t an app allowing anyone to book tables — as long as they have the bucks — sorta diminish the whole VIP thing?
“Some venues are very protective of their brand,” Jung told us, and are very picky about who they let in. He cited The Box in New York City or Marquee in Las Vegas.
For that elite bunch, there’s Tablelist Platinum. You can only get invited into that Platinum app by hitting a specific spending level — plus you have to be referred by an existing Platinum member.
“But a big chunk of venues don’t necessarily care about the curated crowd,” Jung said. For them, “if you can pay for it [with the regular Tablelist],” it’s yours.
“It’s the VIP experience at the venue” that people are looking for, he told us. “Your own table, own waitress, not waiting in line.”
“We’re trying to democratize this space, to a certain extent. It’s an industry that’s been shrouded in mystery, [and now you can] push a button and get that access.”
Before Tablelist, Jung’s infectious enthusiasm was dedicated to selling real estate to foreign nationals — with most of the business conducted in the clubs and rooftop restaurants where his clients liked to hang.
When you can score the most exclusive places to sit in town from your phone, what could be next?
“I see us as becoming a nightlife platform,” Jung said. High-end restaurants are being added, and the company is exploring ticketing.
The company’s latest funding, from Atlas Ventures, Twitter exec Wayne Chang, hedge funder Jason Carroll, and others, will be used for software development and filling key management positions. Keith Frankel, who headed creative and design at marketing platform HubSpot, has come aboard as chief digital officer.
The service is now live at over 150 venues in Boston, New York, Las Vegas, the Hamptons, and Connecticut. A rollout over the next six months is planned for San Francisco, Los Angeles, and possibly Chicago and Miami.
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