AirService exists in a space that leaves you wondering why this wasn’t around five years ago. While checking into a location is great, that misses out on the actual experience at a venue. AirService assumes that ground by letting you place orders at a venue from directly within their app. Unlike other services, the processing is done through the single app that’s on both the customers’ iPhone and venue’s iPad instead of using a separate unit that only runs the venue’s application. It all happens within the application and on a branded page for each location with the company logo and menu details.
The team behind it, Dominic Bressan and Stefan Williams, have launched the app quietly in the Australian app store with several Sydney-based restaurants on board. They hope to take the next month to test it out before they take aim at the US market with an impending launch.
Stefan Williams came up with the idea while on a date when he spent the entire night waiting at the bar for drinks instead of with his girlfriend. Over the next year or so, they kept coming back to the idea, and bringing it up in conversations, of being able to seamlessly place orders from a phone direct to the venue. Eventually Williams and Bressan paired up to launch a business they hoped would deliver a few apps – one of those was AirService.
Both have been working full-time jobs, spending late nights over the past year working on the app. “Our girlfriends don’t get presents, or get to see us,” says Williams.
They went through the initial testing in a cafe housed in a building of coders. The coffee shop offered free coffee delivered to anyone in the building through the app, but had to stop the tests since they were serving up 600 cups of coffee per day, and the cafe was losing money. In general though, Bressan notes there was an average of a 17 percent increase in sales during their beta testing at different venues.
As for design, they aimed to make the app as simple as possible, so they quite literally gave it “the grandma test,” testing out the interface on their own grandmothers. Bressan says that although his 96-year-old grandmother had no idea what the application did, she could navigate through it with ease. ”We’ve nailed the 96-year-old Italian grandmother community,” chuckles Bressan.
They’ve even been working with a hotel in Australia so that people on the beach can place orders earlier in the day, and have it delivered to the chef 15 minutes before their desired time. In addition, traveling to San Francisco has allowed Bressan to get ingrained in the culture. “You feel like you’re part of a community,” said Bressan.
“It’s hard to find good coders [in Silicon Valley] because they all have jobs. Here, it’s hard to find good coders, because they don’t exist,” although Williams adds that they have managed to find some. But the Australian startup community is fledgling and there’s very little funding, says Williams. While AirService is happy to bootstrap for now, the funding issue is a problem in Australia. “There’s no real chance to grow, because there’s no money,” says Bressan. “A lot of ideas go to waste over here.”
The app is now live for download in the App Store – but only for Aussies to test out in Sydney – but is quickly and infinitely scalable, says Bressan.