SnagAstool: The Days Of Standing By The Bar Are Numbered
Jamie Manning grew tired of showing up to his favorite watering holes before big sporting events, only to find that the seats along the bar, facing the large-screen TVs, were all taken.
“It started when the Bruins were in the playoffs,” Manning said. “I offered to pay someone to sit in their seat at the bar [because it was so crowded]. When I get to a bar, I like to sit right at the bar, rather than the table or standing behind someone.”
That’s where the idea started. After talking to some friends, Manning decided there had to be an easier way to claim a bar space in view of the screens, without having to trek to an establishment hours before the puck dropped. And so he invented snagAstool, an app where users sign in and pay a bar in advance to reserve a spot ahead of their arrival.
Having had years of experience in the bartending industry, Manning and cofounder Adriano Varassin designed a way to get people premiere seating in a social setting, hassle-free. “Sometimes getting into bars is a really tough thing to do. I am willing to pay for that privilege,” said Manning.
And apparently others are, too. “People are willing to buy this space. You don’t have to do it for every barstool at the bar, but it’s sort of the basics of supply and demand.”
According to Manning, the service is similar to OpenTable but for barstools, and it works like this: App users select from a list of bars that offer the service. Scrolling through the options, the app shows how many stools are available at a given bar, how expensive the bar is, and even describe the setting and location. Bars that use the service will generally set aside between two to four seats that can be reserved through the app, he said.
Once an establishment is selected on the homepage of the app, users can select the time, day, number of stools, and how long they want to hold down a seat. Then, after hitting “Snag Now,” the app will send a confirmation to the bartender, the user, and make the transaction.
The users can then go about their day, and simply stroll into a crowded place, flash their confirmation, and enjoy a drink with a view, thanks to the little “reserved” tents placed at the cordoned-off stools.
When it officially launches in February, snagAstool will only work with iOS devices, but as they build their brand, Manning and Varassin—both Suffolk University grads—hope to expand to other platforms. They are submitting the app to the iTunes App Store soon for approval, and from there they will continue to meet with bar owners and industry professionals to collaborate on integrating their establishments into the system.
They’ll begin with a six-month “soft launch” of their reservation app, and try to entice roughly 200 bars in the Boston area to jump on board. “We haven’t got them yet, but we are lining up meetings every day,” Manning said, enthusiastically.
To brighten the appeal, the first bars to join snagAstool will be given 100 percent of the money spent when a customer reserves a seat. As the business model grows, and becomes more popular, Manning said they would turn a profit by taking a portion of the reservation fees. “The idea here is to monetize [the app] once we have a user base,” he said.
Manning also thinks it could be a game-changer, once they get off the ground, for big sporting events like the World Series, or the Super Bowl. “It is our mission to make these experiences just a little more convenient,” he said.