With college students flooding the city and football season on the way, finding space at the bar can be challenging. But now, thanks to two Suffolk alumni, you’ll always have a seat at your favorite watering hole.
Earlier this year, Jamie Manning, MBA ’11, and Adriano Varassin, MBA ’10, launched Snagastool—the first and only app that lets you reserve your seat at the bar.
“It’s like OpenTable, but for bar stools. Just log in, pick the date and time, the number of bar stools, and you’re done,” says Manning.
SnagaStool is designed to maximize a bar’s revenue during their peak and off-peak hours. It drives guests to the bar during off-peak hours by offering incentives, like a free beer or appetizer. During peak hours, bars can sell pre-paid tickets for bar stools to guarantee revenue.
While the customer pays for the reservation up front, it ends up getting deducted from the final bill. “It’s ideal for dates, big games, after-work drinks, and trivia night,” Manning adds.
Featured on A&E
Although the startup is in its early phase of development, it’s been getting a lot of attention. This spring, SnagaStool was one of three local businesses selected to compete for funding on the A&E television network’s show, Project Startup Live.
“Luckily for us, it wasn’t our first competition. We had already pitched at several events across Boston, including the TechCrunch Pitch-off and Boston New Technology,” Manning says.
Their practice paid off—SnagaStool ended up winning a $2,500 seed investment, plus mentorship from Brian Mecee, the CEO of the crowdfunding website RocketHub.
Perfecting their Business Model
Manning and Varassin are currently piloting SnagaStool in several Massachusetts bars, including Champions Sports Bar in Cambridge and Perfect Game, the largest sports bar in Worcester. And they’re gaining momentum. Just last week, they signed on a bar in Florida.
They’re also testing out different incentives to drive bar traffic during non-peak times. Champions, for instance, offers a free appetizer (up to $10) when you snag a stool Sunday‒Tuesday after 5:00 p.m.
“We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time,” Manning says.
The team attributes much of their success to their alma mater—Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School. Associate Dean Michael Behnam and Professor George Moker have been their biggest allies since the beginning.
“Dean Behnam and Professor Moker connected us with Suffolk’s entrepreneur network. And today, we’re leveraging that network to build a group of advisors within the hospitality industry to help our service expand into more bars and restaurants,” Manning says.
Manning and Varassin are currently building relationships with investors and incubators that share their vision to improve the hospitality industry.
“We already proved there’s a desire and market to reserve bar stools and increase traffic to bars during off-peak hours. Additional funding will help us further test our revenue models, improve the user experience, build an Android version, and expand into other cities,” says Manning.