(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
There’s something special about seeing an erstwhile concept make its first steps into the world, even if, in practice, beta launches are almost always halting, awkward events with regard to the tech itself. Last Wednesday evening this was precisely the milestone that Delect, the 1776-based company looking to reinvent the future of payment in restaurants, celebrated.
A group of friends, mentors and colleagues descended on Chef Tony’s seafood restaurant in Bethesda for dinner and to test out the newly released iOS app. “Everything that can go wrong is going to go wrong tonight,” founder and CEO Serge Amouzou said, by way of a welcome. The room giggled collectively.
— Cogent Law Group LLP (@CogentLG) September 21, 2016
But while this was probably a reasonable expectation to set, the evening actually went quite smoothly.
All guests had been directed to download a beta version of the app before arriving at the restaurant — unless they have an Android phone, of course (the team hopes to release an Android version of the app next month). After walking in the door I clicked the button to sign in, then found a table.
My tablemates and I, all previously strangers, chatted about everything from startups to bikeshare to edible marijuana over our short ribs or pasta primavera. One particularly terse member of the table peppered Jason Spengler, Delect’s social media and marketing guy, with questions about the app’s appeal and business model. “You know how you sometimes have to wait 20 or 30 minutes to get the check?” he explained, “that’s why you should download Delect.” She nodded.
Sensing my cue, I bid farewell to my new friends and left the restaurant. It was that easy. In fact, perhaps it was a little too easy — despite continued attempts to load the app, I still haven’t actually paid for anything (get at me, Delect).
So what’s next for Delect? Undoubtedly, rolling out in as many new restaurants as possible is top of mind for the whole team. An app I can use at Chef Tony’s is a fun gimmick, but an app I can use at restaurants around the city is an app I might actually download. As always in startup life, there’s a long road ahead. But on Wednesday, for at least one evening, the Delect team got to celebrate how far it has already come.
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