In 2010, John Clifford, co-founder of Line Genie, was going to a party for a co-worker at a popular Boston venue. Upon arrival, he realized that half of the party was already inside; the other half was stuck outside in line and missing the celebration. This spawned an idea, to create a way where good customers can demonstrate their value to the venue by purchasing a gift card allowing them to skip the line and entry fee. They would be able to pickup and use their card for food and drinks at the places they like to frequent. In order to achieve this they could utilize a simple online process of prepaying then arriving at the venue with identification and go right inside.
Creating idea into product with Trevor Schwartz, a longtime co-worker and visionary, they co-founded and bootstrapped Line Genie in July 2011. Their social media hashtag says it all, #NoLineNoCover and it is a popular message for the many people utilizing their product. They have discovered that women often preplan and book all kinds of parties, men do this as well but many just plan a night out and want it to be hassle free. Live bands and sporting events are just a few of the venue draws that Line Genie retailers offer. Line Genie is being embraced by the individual and by the group; and by the retailers who are learning the potential customer value.
Startup Scaling and Growth
As a smart startup, they are based primarily at Boston venues, and growing. Their model embraces the average bar visitor, as opposed to just the high spending elite venue attendee. It’s a product for the masses. A $50 gift card gets two people, so it is only a $25 spend commitment per person. According to Trevor Schwartz, “scaling is extremely important, making sure that the venues can easily and efficiently use the product, that consumers can understand what they are paying for and that they are on a secure site with a trusted reputation.” These things will take time to prove for Line Genie.
For the positioning of a startup, “the burn rate is relatively low” according to Schwartz. Fully automated website features keep costs low, mainly directed at message marketing. They currently offer five Boston venues, with a venue in Wisconsin that absolutely didn’t want to wait for them to scale larger. Trevor Schwartz mentions, “the next reasonable growth area will be in New York”. Their revenue is currently from commission on each card sale, but there are several potential revenue streams for Line Genie.
What is the Line Genie team focusing on now? Making certain that the public message is clear. That their customers know what a benefit they gain by committing to spend fifty dollars, and that their retailers realize the return benefit and upfront commitment to purchase is a growth potential for them.
The Retailer Potential
After looking at this product and service, I envision bar and restaurant owners embracing Line Genie very quickly. I suspect that scaling the idea could go the way of very big business. Purchasing a gift card online is easy for the consumer and the venue simply provides the card upon arrival. Line Genie leverages the existing payment infrastructure at its venues, so there is no additional hardware necessary for a new venue to get up and running. The venues currently utilizing Line Genie have seen growth and repeat customers for their business. They know many Line Genie customers by name, and are more aware of how to bring them and their friends into the establishment. Line Genie is creating a database of great customers for each of its venues, so that they can text or email special offers to those customers. This will provide a personalized loyalty experience for the consumer and the business. A win-win situation. It’s an opportunity to engage those customers that venues really want. Line Genie’s patrons not only commit to spend money, they tell their friends which drives more business to the venues and creates a positive social response. ‘Know your customer’ is much more than a retail slogan; it is an actuality for those utilizing Line Genie.
Go Get It
The details of how it works are simple and fast. Perhaps you are out to dinner and decide to rush just to beat the lines at the club. Instead, don’t rush, go online to www.LineGenie.com, select the venue you would like and buy your gift card, which will go entirely towards drinks or food. Purchase before 9pm and arrive anytime after 10pm to skip the line and cover charge, grab your card at the door, and be inside having a good time immediately. A $50 gift card purchase allows two people to skip the line and cover. Line Genie makes certain that each venue has all of your information securely well in advance, insuring a fun and easy evening. And your gift card is good for seven full years from the date of purchase. Check below for the venues that currently offer the Line Genie benefit, and then go to Line Genie to make your #NoLineNoCover reservation.
Line Genie serves the following locations:
Purchase of your card is available only at www.LineGenie.com