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For those who're not familiar with Vator Box, it's our version of Siskel & Ebert meets American Idol. We take one company's video pitch and put it in front of a guest host and our VB regular Ezra Roizen, digital media investment banker, and myself. The three of us then analyze the company's prospects. And, in some cases, the guest host gets very excited about the company.
That's what happened in this latest episode with our guest host, Raj Kapoor, managing director at Mayfield Fund, a high-profile Silicon Valley venture firm. The company we looked at? QLess, a line-management software system that eliminates standing in lines by letting people use their cell phones to get on virtual lines. With QLess, consumers use kiosks or the Web to get in line for a number of services, such as restaurants, tables at casinos, doctor's offices, rides at theme parks, the DMV, and even places that can alert you to the H1N1 flu shots.
QLess was also one of the 10 finalist in the JuicePitcher competition, hosted by Vator and TheFunded.
Here are some highlights:
- Excellent pitch. CEO and founder Alex Backer does a great job identifying the problem, the solution and the value proposition for investors, clients and consumers. He also provides great ROI (return on investment) figures and other stats that make his product compelling.
- A great informative pitch notwithstanding, Alex could use a zinger of an opening line, or more gusto when he delivers his pitch.
- The novelty of the service is that QLess is leveraging the cell phone, rather than creating new gadgets. The service also becomes a Trojan Horse for getting phone numbers. Between 80% and 90% of people who use the service provide their phone numbers.
- Alex has an impressive background. He came from MIT, Caltech and McKinsey & Sandia National Labs.
- QLess can bring targeted advertising closer to a reality. Not only does QLess know its customers' phone numbers, it knows if the customer has down-time (since they're waiting in line), and what the customer is interested in.
- Big challenge for QLess is having a big enough sales team to sell the line-management solution. After all, how many places have a line item in their budget for line-management software?
- Advice: QLess can't bootstrap this service. It's too big an idea. QLess will likely have to raise some venture funding and give the product away to get adoption. QLess should follow in the footsteps of Open Table by becoming a source of information. For instance, people should be able to use QLess to find the shortest line for a certain restaurant.
Be sure to stay updated on QLess by clicking the link below.
Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.All author posts
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QLessTM: The Mobile Queueing, Marketing & CRM Company
The average American spends more than 2 years of her/his life waiting in lines. A line is an age-old invention to move demand from a time when it exceeds supply to one in which it does not. It is a lossy and wasteful one, for many prospective customers leave while they wait, and many become frustrated. Selected one of the Best Business Innovations by the 2009 American Business Awards, QLessTM uses mobile phones to eliminate the need to wait in a particular place in space while waiting (in time), with no special-purpose hardware or software needed.
QLessTM is a virtual line management system that allows guests to hold their spot in line using their cell phones. Guests enter the virtual line for a table or appointment from their phones, the web or via a hostess, and then receive phone call or text message updates letting them know when they are ready to be served. QLessTM is interactive: guests can call or text at any time for on-demand updates, can push themselves back in the line if they need more time, or leave the line. Mobile queueing serves as an opt-in point for highly targeted, local & timely mobile marketing, and the data collected creates the new category of mobile CRM, opening up a wealth of service personalization possibilities.
Try one of our demos by calling 877-4-0-LINES877-4-0-LINES (877-405-4637877-405-4637 ) . More information available at http://waitinginlinesucks.com .
We conservatively estimate the total available market for QLess at over $36billion/year. 2+ years of each American life lost waiting represents 6.9% of the average work-life expectancy, or $936 billion of the GDP lost yearly that could be reclaimed with QLess, an independent validation of the tremendous value of solving the waiting problem.
> Enables customers to join a line remotely.Join “virtual waitlists” by calling or text-messaging from their cell phones,by instant-messaging (IM), or through the Web.
> Gives consumers room to roam.Pursue whatever activities they want, wherever they wish, while QLess holds their place in line
> Promotes Public Health.By dispersing customers, there is less waiting in crowded environments where germs naturally spread.
> Lets customer tweak their arrival time.Consumers can “push back” their place in line any number of minutes. Everybody else’s wait gets adjusted accordingly.
> Plan ahead. Obtain estimated wait-times (which QLess calculates automatically, even factoring in no-shows and turn-aways along with other wait-time elements).
· Increased customer satisfaction.Our customers have experienced a surge in positive reviews in sites such as Yelp, and these mention QLessTM.
· Increase revenues. Allow customers to shop while they wait. American shoppers spend about $1/min while shopping at a mall.
· Reduce no-shows by 15% to 40% & turn-aways by 75%. Freedom increases patience, and QLess acts as a digital tether to reel prospective customers into our customers' businesses when the business is ready to serve them.
· Brings the power of web analytics to brick & mortar shops. Average wait time, customer outcomes(served vs. abandoned, ...), customer geography, customer return rates customer by customer, per wait time, day visited, time visited, employee, unprecedented visibility into what makes customers tick.
· Mobile Marketing. 80% to 96% of QLess users provide us with their cell phone numbers. Users can opt in to SMS &/or voice coupons, news & more.
· Personalization. QLessTM allows customers to personalize their every interaction with each patron, keeping track of previous visits and preferences (language, …).
· Maximize throughput. Active dynamic scheduling eliminates appointment-based scheduling in favor of appointments updated in real-time based on the duration of prior appointments and real-time mobile communications.
· Can be deployed anywhere lines form. No specialized software or hardware necessary. Because QLessTMis a hosted Web application, all a customer needs is a laptop, tablet or phone and an Internet connection.
· Learns over time.Gets smarter and smarter. Sophisticated algorithms allow QLessTM, to project increasingly accurate wait times based on real-time and historical data. QLess proved that wait time forecast accuracy predicts customer return rates.
· Allows simultaneous and remote viewing of the Queue. Any number of users can log on and manage the line simultaneously. Perfect for remote oversight.
· Environmentally Friendly. By shifting ticket generation from the physical to the virtual,companies no longer need to print tickets or keep physical pagers.
QLess allows advertisers to reach customers:
Ø with unprecedented targeting capabilities, based on:
o the customer’s exact location at the time of receiving the ad
o what they are trying to do at the time of receiving the ad
o their purchase history and lifestyle
Ø at a time when they are waiting, and thus receptive to distractions;
Ø as they are entering a point of sale (e.g. retail establishment).
QLessTM has been successfully deployed at a number of award-winning restaurants, DMVs, colleges, retail stores, healthcare, transportation, and government facilities, including the City of Austin, and has freed more than 100,000 users from standing in line. QLess will be soon deployed at a number of leading facilities in the gaming, theme park and beauty industries, too.
The team includes an award-winning Ph.D. and veteran entrepreneur from MIT, Caltech and McKinsey who's already grown another company from conception to profitability, an experienced technology leader from Yahoo who has already grown a number of successful start-ups and an experienced sales team.
QLess has grown revenues by an average of 200% per year since launch. Customers range in size from small independent restaurants to T-mobile. Testimonials include:
“I think overall it’s a very good system. Customers really like it. The day we had a really long wait, everything was perfect.. On a 1 to 10 scale, I’d give it a 9. Educating people [about their wait] helps tremendously. It’s perfect, it really is.”
--Patricia Rogers, Citizen Services Director, Office of the Mayor, City of Nashua, NH.
“Any simpler and it would do it itself!... At our Divisional Staff meeting Sherry had some very complimentary things to say about Qless and it’s staff as well. We would like you to consider us a strong reference for your firm should you wish to provide my contact info to any potential opportunity.” –John Barker, IT Director, Motor Vehicle Registration.
QLess is a great friggen idea!
--Mike Schroepfer, VP Engineering, Facebook
More testimonials can be provided upon request.
QLess has been featured in Mashable, the New York Times blog by Freakonomics authors, Nation's Restaurant News, QSR Web (Quick Service Restaurants), the American Academy of Family Physicians, Mobile Marketer, Aviation Week, Chain Store Age and blogs around the world. See qless.com/press for details.
Joined Vator onChief Strategy Officer at Lyft & Head AV Business, former CEO/cofounder of Fitmob & Snapfish, former MD at Mayfield Fund