TurnStar was the flagship product of my company, Textaurant. TurnStar rewarded people for the time they spent waiting at busy restaurants – in the process creating and maintaining a strong loyalty relationship between eatery and patron.
In 2009, I founded this software as a service startup and took it from concept through multiple rounds of funding to acquisition in May of 2013.
It is possible for a casual restaurant to be “too popular for its own good” – that is, to have such a long wait time that customers lose interest and go elsewhere. Most restaurants force patrons to sit (or stand) in the lobby, waiting for their name to be called or babysitting a dirty plastic pager – and worse, each night they throw away useful data in the form of their waiting lists.
Working with owners, managers, and hosts at busy casual restaurants, I identified that there were two pain points: customers hate waiting, especially standing in a crowded lobby; and restaurants hate losing clients. From this concept, I developed the hypothesis that allowing patrons to wait anywhere and receive a notification that their table is almost ready would increase their tolerance for long waits – giving them a reason to return to the business they wanted to patronize in the first place.
Going through multiple iterations of UI, I worked with a number of hosts and managers to provide a robust feature set that closely mimicked the tool it was replacing – pen & paper – while still allowing for much greater flexibility. Hosts were delighted by the ease-of-use, managers loved the data they received – and the ability to see the current waiting list on their phone – and customers reveled in the ability to wait anywhere.