WaitTime Hopes to Find Shortest Beer Line at the Ballpark
Today is the home opener for the Detroit Tigers, a day when busloads of suburbanites descend upon downtown to engage in extreme day drinking and related mayhem to celebrate the start of the Major League Baseball season.
Wouldn’t it be great if revelers could pull up an app to check which beer lines in Comerica Park were the least crowded? Or which lines for the women’s restrooms were the shortest? If Detroit-based startup WaitTime succeeds, you’ll soon be able to.
WaitTime is the brainchild of Zachary Klima. Klima graduated from the University of Detroit in 2012 with a degree in architecture and was doing manufacturing line sales when he got the opportunity to pitch his startup idea directly to Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans. Gilbert liked the idea so much, he sent Klima to his Bizdom incubator to further develop it. Since Klima didn’t have the software skills to turn his idea into a reality, he brought former Google employee Craig Bisson on board as his co-founder.
Though Klima ultimately wants to WaitTime to be targeted toward sporting and concert venues, the first market he’s attempting to crack is restaurants. WaitTime can add a widget to any restaurant’s mobile app, website, or digital signs to tell restaurant patrons how long their wait will be for a table. Restaurants can also link their Open Table IDs to the widget so patrons can make reservations through WaitTime.
“The information is broadcast from the hostess, usually from a tablet, so people know in real time how long it’ll take,” Klima says.
WaitTime just graduated from Bizdom late last month, and the company is currently beta testing its widget at about a dozen downtown Detroit restaurants. “We have a lot of people on our board of advisors to help us scale and get funding,” Klima says, adding that in mid-June, WaitTime will begin raising a Series A round to help it tackle the large-venue market.
Making that jump will require more than software. Klima and Bisson are also developing infrared sensors that can be mounted throughout a ballpark or similar large venue to automatically detect the presence of people. “It will calculate wait times for bathrooms, gates, and beer and food lines, all in real time,” Klima says. “People will know from their seats where to go.”
WaitTime has competitors—the NoWait app may be the best known—but Klima says WaitTime’s methodology differs. “We provide analytics to the venue, but we also have a consumer-facing side so we can tie into the venue’s app, which allows for a better fan experience,” he says.
Klima says WaitTime plans to make money by charging venues for the cost of the hardware set-up, and then charging subscription fees to integrate the wait time information with the venue’s app.
“In five years, we want to scale and gain traction in multiple industries—restaurants, event venues, casinos, airports, and healthcare,” Klima adds. “Detroit is a big tech hub, with a lot of heavy hitters investing here. That energy has allowed us to take WaitTime to the next level.”