SmartLine, a new app for Android and iOS devices, allows customers to check in to a restaurant before they arrive, drastically reducing wait times on the premises. Hofstra University student entrepreneur Daniel Reitman and his team won several competitions and cash prizes, including $4,000 in the Hofstra Capital One Entrepreneurial Challenge in November of 2012, $5,000 in the New York State Business Plan Competition, Long Island Region, in March of 2013, and a $1,500 third place prize at the statewide competition the following month. Although SmartLine’s official release is pending, weekend customers at Kotobuki, a Japanese restaurant in Roslyn, have been successfully using the app.
Idea for SmartLine: “A New Way To Wait In Line”
The SmartLine idea originated in September of 2011 with Reitman and co-founders Steve Lee, Allison Vanderputten, and Bryan Vanderputten, and development started in 2012. As a complete wait list management solution for the hospitality industry, SmartLine notifies customers when their seats are ready and includes loyalty and rewards program functionality. It allows for more spontaneity than advanced reservations, and busy customers can see how long the wait list is before they get there. Restaurant owners can directly engage their customers through SmartLine, without sending unwanted emails or text messages, according to Reitman.
Benefits for Restaurant Owners and Customers
“The more people that are using our app that come to the restaurant, the greater the benefit,” Reitman said. “Almost all of our customers are repeat customers. We just tell them once and they have the app for the future,” added Eric, a Kotobuki dining manager.
Hofstra University’s Entrepreneurship Program
As a recent HofstraUniversity graduate, Reitman expressed gratitude for the university’s entrepreneurship program curriculum and the mentorship by Assistant Professor Richard Hayes. “My entire curriculum with the entrepreneurship program perfectly aligned with my work with SmartLine. Professor Hayes has been incredibly helpful in terms of giving us advice and feedback,” Reitman explained.
SmartLine has had its setbacks, but they motivated him to move forward, Reitman said. For example, when the team lost the Capital One Cross Campus Challenge in February, they used it as a learning experience. Changes to the plan have included hiring a new developer, Theo Ben Hassen, in February, and a growing list of restaurant prospects.
Ever since Reitman was about seven years old, he wanted to be a businessman. At that age, he would buy boxes of candy and sell pieces to other children on the bus, where there was no other candy available to them. Reitman encourages would-be entrepreneurs, saying: “You have to start somewhere. An idea is worth as much as the implementation.”
In addition to SmartLine, Reitman also runs a dog-walking business called Dan’s Dog Walking and Pet Sitting, and an international nonprofit organization called Hope For Hope, with a goal of providing children with access to food, water, shelter, and education.
For more information, read Hofstra University’s news release.