It’s only natural that cofounders of Uber and Foursquare would team up and create a restaurant reservation app, no?
Well that’s what they did — sort of. Garrett Camp cofounded StumbleUpon and Uber before establishing his startup studio Expa. Naveen Selvadurai joined Expa a few months ago after leaving Foursquare in 2012. The two have been hard at work on Reserve, which is now available in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston. It’s also announcing that it has acquired SoonSpoon’s two-person team in Boston.
Reserve is like a hybrid of UrbanSpoon (a service and app with reviews and restaurant recommendations), UrbanDaddy (its app serves up recommendations based on situations), OpenTable (a restaurant booking network), and Cover (a digital wallet for restaurants). Whenever you want to go out to dinner, you pull out the app, input a few pieces of info (which the app uses to surface suggestions), and pick a restaurant from the list Reserve presents.
Reserve’s partner restaurants are equipped with iPads that show them reservation requests from the app’s users in real time, which they can use to confirm bookings. SoonSpoon’s original service, which helped its users get last-minute reservations at more exclusive restaurants, provided such updates, likely one of the reasons Reserve acquired it.
The Reserve app keeps the user updated on the booking’s status, and then serves as a digital wallet at the end of the dinner, so you can use it to pay for your meal.
Reserve charges a flat $5 fee for the entire experience, and a company spokesperson confirmed to VentureBeat via email that at the moment it’s the company’s primary revenue stream.
However, restaurants can also let prospective diners show their interest in a reservation by offering to pay above the menu prices, though a spokesperson said that it hasn’t been used very frequently during the app’s beta testing.
While none of these concepts are new, this is one of those cases where success will rest on the app’s user experience and design, and eventually how large of a network of restaurants the team can grow. Design has been helping mobile apps distinguish themselves from other similar ones, and I’d be much more likely to use a service that works with most of the restaurants in town than one that has only five on board. Having once spent a few hours with Selvadurai at a couple of San Francisco eateries, I’ve definitely gotten the impression that he’s one to thoughtfully pay attention to details, and not one to skimp on anything when it comes to design, or dining experiences.
Reserve is headed by Greg Hong, and is now available on iOS. The service is one of the few projects Expa has been working on in recent times, after Camp raised $50 million back in March.