By Roddie Burris The State (Columbia, S.C.)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "RAAD" is a new app that allows you to pay to skip to the front of the line. The founders came up with the idea after they became annoyed while waiting in a long line in the cold to get into a crowded nightclub.
How much would you pay to skip the wait in a long line outside your favorite night club, restaurant or bar and instead be ushered right on in?
A Clemson University graduate student and a couple of his buddies aim to find that out in hopes you will use their new mobile app, RAAD, to move on up.
The app is available only to iPhone users and is accepted at a limited number of establishments. But the three young entrepreneurs say they have set out to contact each of the 55,000 or so bars in the country to see what it will take for them to allow the app access to each of their guest lists.
"RAAD is an app that allows you to pay to skip to the front of the line, so essentially we are selling your time back to you," said Kory Keefer, one of the app's developers. Eight months ago, the trio became annoyed while waiting in a long line in the cold to get into a crowded nightclub, Keefer said.
After an attempt to persuade the club's bouncer with a $20 bill failed to put them at the front of the line, they began looking for a simple way around such logjams, Keefer said.
For the app to work, both a consumer and an establishment have to have it. The bar or other establishment and the app owners have to have an agreed upon price point -- which is the amount the consumer pays to move up. The establishment and the app shares that take.
Late last year, RAAD was named one of seven winners of a competition at Clemson University's Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Nearly 40 entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of business owners and investors as part of the Pitch Smackdown competition. The panel presented more than $30,000 to the fledgling businesses, including $5,000 to RAAD.
After the app's development, the group initially tested interest in it starting with bars in Charleston. They needed to know the app had value, Keefer said, and also that the software actually would work. It did.
However, their research also indicated the app needed a way to provide greater value to the business, meaning a way to generate interest from bar owners and managers beyond money.
"We're in the middle of an email campaign -- we're trying to reach out to every bar in America -- to find out what their paying points are," Keefer said. Then, "We're going to try to solve their biggest problem," he said, by adding another function to the application.
That function will be designed to give bars, in particular, "more options," adding value to the app. "The value for the consumer is already there," Keefer said.
Keefer, a College of Charleston graduate; Wilson White, the Clemson MBA candidate and RAAD co-founder who graduated from Heathwood Hall Episcopal School; and Jacob Wisniewski, a Presbyterian College graduate, have contacted about 3,000 U.S. bars so far.
The RAAD app can be downloaded for free by consumers and establishments, and consumers pay only when they use the app to skip ahead in a line. The payment is a credit card transaction, carried out through a cyber-secure site, the group said.
But, RAAD is not for everyone, the group says, which has become a slogan for them. RAAD-app users are more likely to be of the tech-savvy millenial age group, said White, a Columbia native. In trials with people over 30 years old, White said, those consumers leaned more toward directly paying the bouncer or doorman to move up in a line.
Making a move to advance in line more of a silent business transaction than a crowd scene also eliminates personal embarassment if a bouncer or doorman rejects the offer, White noted.
RAAD app owners have put about $10,000 into developing the software so far, White said, and they have not taken on any investors.
"We take small losses here and there with bar owners, but we're not going to let that define us, and we're moving forward," Keefer said, "so you'll hear about us one way or the other and you'll know about us fairly soon, because we're not stopping until we become successful."