A new app that lets diners use their smartphones to find out wait times at restaurants, put their names on lists and know when their tables are ready has helped a team of Hofstra University students win statewide honors.
On Friday, senior Daniel Reitman and four other fellow undergraduates went up against 14 college and university teams in the Technology/Software category of the New York Business Plan Competition in Albany. They took home third place and $1,500 for their business proposal for SmartLine, a Port Washington company that expects to complete the app's development next month.
SmartLine, founded by Reitman and three business partners in November 2011, gives restaurants a way to handle waiting lists with an iPad app that will notify diners that their table is ready. It will also keep track of business information such as how many people leave their lines.
For consumers, SmartLine offers Android and iPhone mobile apps that allow them to find out how long the waits are and add their names to a list from another location, Reitman said. Depending on the restaurant, consumers can also choose to receive rewards and other special offers.
"You're giving freedom back to the consumers, allowing them to go about their business and do what they want to do and then enjoy eating out at a great restaurant," he said.
Reitman, 25 and now on his third start-up, met teammates Bimal Patel, Charlie Torsiello, Zach Mitchell and Brandon Borresen in a class, where they developed a business plan for SmartLine. The team won first place and $4,000 in the Capital One Campus Entrepreneurship Challenge at Hofstra last fall.
Earlier this month the team won $5,000 and qualified to compete in the final rounds of the state competition held by SUNY's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the credit union SEFCU and the State University of New York. This is the fourth year the competition has been held and the first time it was expanded to include Long Island schools.
"We met a lot of people, angel investors that we plan to communicate with outside the competition," Reitman said.
Once the app is completed, SmartLine plans to run a test at the Japanese restaurant Kotobuki in Roslyn and expects to go live with a number of restaurants on Long Island and in Queens in late May or early June.