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On Demand Businesses 101

How Preo has been changing the bar and restaurant scene by being Uber for Food :Startup Story #23

For anyone into the city nightlife, you’ll be familiar with the long lines and wait-times at the bar. You’ll be familiar with how challenging it is to get the bartender’s attention, and how inconvenient payments can be.preo

To eliminate these hassles, Richard Liang and Robert Estelle created Preo. Considered the Uber for food & drinks at bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, Preo makes ordering as simple as a few swipes of the phone. No more fighting for the bartender’s attention and no more wasted time in line while you could be socializing.

We talked to Richard and Robert to get more insight on how they have been changing the bar and restaurant scene:

Q1.Tell us a little about Preo and your personal motivation for starting this business?

I was a bartender during school, and saw the inefficiency with serving drinks. I had to keep running back to the point-of-sale with every transaction. When I move back to NYC and started visiting bars, I saw that this same problem of waiting for drinks was prevalent in most popular venues. I knew that my experience would have been significantly better if I could eliminate the hassle of waiting for a drink. After talking to others, the sentiment was very similar for everyone. At the end of the day, I just wanted to create a service that would enhance the hospitality experience for everyone, including myself.

Q2.Can you give us a rundown of how Preo works?

Venues simply place the Preo printer next to their existing point-of-sale, and then upload their menu & floorplan onto our system. It’s a quick 5 minute process. Guests download Preo, enter their credit card information, and can start ordering immediately. They select their venue, browse a full menu, add items into their cart, select a pick-up location, and place their order. They can continue talking to their friends, making new friends, or simply stay away from the crowd at the bar.

Orders are printed to the Preo receipt printer, and when bartenders pull the ticket, our system automatically notifies the guest. A large order number appears on their app, and they simply need to show their phone at the pickup location to pickup their drinks. Bartenders know which order to distribute by looking at the number on the phone, and the number on the receipts.

Q3.Who are your key stakeholders and how are you offering them value?

Our key stakeholders are consumers, venue owners, bartenders, and alcohol brands.

Consumers are able to order drinks without waiting, or pulling out their wallets.

Venue owners are able to hire the same number of staff, and serve twice as many orders when their venues are busy (which is when they make a majority of their profits).

Bartenders can serve more drinks per hour, and receive more tips – bartenders with Preo can serve 125+ drinks per hour, and receive $300+ in tips.

Alcohol brands are able to understand consumption behavior of guests over time, and across venues – something that is unavailable today.

Q4.What is Preo’s biggest achievement to date? How did you go about accomplishing this?

Our biggest accomplishment has been signing a pilot deal with a major alcohol brand. We were able to achieve this feat by taking the time to understand the key pain-points of all key stakeholders, and turning that into a product that is simple to deploy and extremely scalable.

Q5.What has been your biggest set back? How did you deal with it?

In our first two years of operations, our system was very similar to our competitors – venues were outfitted with an iPad-based system for taking orders. We deployed with 20+ venues, and found that staff hated an iPad system because it changed their workflow process. We had to take a step back and completely change our system. It was a tough decision because it meant we had to scrap nearly two years of work, but in the end, it turned into a clear product differentiator.

Q6.Could you shed some light on the technology and tools used to build Preo?

We use Slack and Pivotal Tracker to keep communication and progress extremely transparent at the company. This has been instrumental in ensuring our whole team moves in the right direction.

Q7.What was technically the most challenging part of developing Preo?

Developing scalable and cost efficient hardware for deployment in venues.

Q8.What are some of the hurdles and roadblocks you still face?

Signing venues is always a hurdle, but we’ve become very efficient with our sales process.

Q9.What are some the current trends you see in the industry?

Consumers are moving towards mobile, and venue owners are starting to take note of this. I think the sales process will continue to become easier as owners become mobile users themselves.

Q10. There are definitely a lot of companies similar to Preo floating around right now. What are you doing that differentiates you?

Our receipt printer is a huge point of differentiation. Preo allows bartenders and wait-staff to serve mobile orders by simply pulling a receipt – no other company has that technology.

Q11.Where do you see Preo in five years?

Today, if you’re hailing a cab, your friend will probably ask why you didn’t “Uber it”. In five years, if you’re getting a drink, your friends will ask why you aren’t “Preo-ing it”.

Q12.If you had a chance to go back, what would you want to do differently?

I would have scrapped the iPad system after our first trial, and immediately started development on our receipt printer.

Q13.Any advice for startups trying to make it big or join the On-Demand space?

Supply side distribution is key for your product. You can always generate demand with marketing, but it won’t be any use if your entire team is constantly fighting an uphill battle to secure supply. So figure out the best distribution channel to get more dots on your map.

Want to create an interesting platform like Preo ?

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