Novo App Will Let You Pay Your Bar Tab From Your Phone

The startup wants to 'eliminate the morning walk back to the bar to get your credit card.'

Image via Novo

Image via Novo

It’s a hangover nightmare that makes your heart drop into your (already sour) stomach: waking up from a night of debauchery at the local bar only to discover you’ve left your credit card, tab unpaid, behind.

But a new app being created by two Northeastern University graduates, and a former MIT engineer, is looking to make those post-drinking problems a thing of the past.

Called “Novo,” the company said in an email to Boston that once the app is launched—they are rolling out a beta mode in conjunction with some Cambridge bars in early 2015—bar patrons will be able to pay their tab without having to squirm through the crowds at last call.

Instead, they’ll have the option of simply tapping in to their smartphone, calling up Novo, and clearing their debt with the bartender sans credit card, since their personal information for each watering hole will already be stored in the system.

“It provides an easy-to-use platform that enhances both the experience of the users, as well as the productivity of the bartenders,” the trio behind the startup said in an email.

Here’s how it works: after downloading Novo, a user can easily create an account or link the app to their existing Facebook profile. Once they have entered their credit card information, they can immediately start browsing the Novo locations nearby and open a tab from the app.

The company said before a person orders drinks, all they need to do is let the bartender know that they have opened a tab using Novo. Each establishment that partners up with Novo will be equipped with an iPad, which can be stationed next to the traditional register, where the bartenders can add drinks, and clear out tabs as necessary. When a user decides it’s time to move on to a new bar, or head home, they can request to close out their tab from the app, enter the tip amount, and wait for a receipt to be sent to their email.

“The user will never again have to wait those additional 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the night to close out their tab and get back their card,” according to Novo’s founders. “Second, they will never again have to give away their card to a bartender, meaning that Novo takes away the possibility of your card being lost, or forgotten. We want to eliminate the morning hangover walk back to the bar to get your credit card.”

Similar apps exist, like Dash and Tabbedout, but don’t currently offer services to the Boston area, and focus more on both restaurants and bars.

The idea for Novo was born after cofounder Alexis Roumeliotis became frustrated working as a bartender at her family’s bar. Roumeliotis found herself trying to multitask, especially at the end of the night, rushing around to get the correct credit cards back into her customers’ hands, while simultaneously trying to close up behind the bar.

“[Roumeliotis] thought that having her customers close out their tab themselves could have been a great time-saver. This would give her some additional time to clean, socialize with her customers, and most importantly, she could pour [and] sell additional drinks,” the founders of Novo said in a statement.

Once the idea for Novo popped into her head, Roumeliotis teamed up with Luca Morello, a Northeastern grad and a business analyst in the Boston area, as well as Gaia Carini, a Seattle-based software developer who graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering.

For the last seven months, the team has been working diligently to try and perfect their user platform, with hopes of making the app available to the public in 2015. But first, they are testing it out in Cambridge with a select few bars daring enough to try and upend the industry’s current methods.

“We truly believe that the transaction process is flawed and our application will change it for the good,” they said. “In addition, the fact that we have such a strong support from the surrounding community pushes us to deliver an amazing app that addresses this pain-point.”