Last week, 12 startups presented at Amplify’d, a daylong event full of pitches and discussion hosted by State Farm in their coffee shop-meets-innovation-lab, Next Door. All the companies got were five minutes and a proposal—the rest, convincing the panel of industry-leading judges that their idea was the best, was up to them.
The pitching companies were:
4Motion by Enflux—a motion-sensing app that provides performance feedback to people to exercise
Bike & Park—a community promoting bike riding for health and running bicycle commuting centers
BadgeCert—software that provides verified digital “badges” for achievements outside of school
BreakingVoices by 360 NewsNow Media—a real-time news aggregator based on your social network
Concieo—an iPad based digital concierge serving travelers in their hotel rooms
DermBids—a website that provides quotes for cosmetic procedures based on user-uploaded photos
HiFive—an app for sending Facebook friends $5 gifts that can be used anywhere in network
Justice Bid—an online marketplace for legal project bidding, streamlining the process of getting quality, affordable legal services
Luncheon—a location-based networking app that lets professionals set up lunch meetings with one another
SnackBar by LineHop—an app that allows bowlers to order food and drinks without leaving their lane
Vicelight—an app enabling Millennials to crowdsource decisions and giving retailers a way to connect with them
WeDeliver—an online platform that enables local merchants to offer on-demand delivery service
BadgeCert was named runner up by the judges, who included Plug and Play Tech Center’s Canice Wu, State Farm’s Jack Weekes, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’s Kristin Barrett, Lightbank’s Marina Dedes and Sandbox Industries’ Nick Rosa. The overall winner was SnackBar by LineHop, founded by 24-year-old Chicagoan and former pro bowler Steve Dinelli. In addition to a great trophy, Dinelli also won six months of residency at 1871. We caught up with Dinelli to learn more about him and his company.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was working on another startup idea and walked into a sandwich shop in downtown Chicago, the line was out the door and I said "Nope, not going here" and walked out. I realized that must happen to a lot of people and restaurants are losing out. After camping out in a few downtown restaurants and watching customer behavior I realized if the line got too long, customers would walk in and right back out.
What personal experiences led you to recognize the problem of snack deficiencies in bowling alleys?
I've been around bowling my entire life. I started bowling in a league when I was 3, got my first job in a bowling center on my 16th birthday and even attended college on a bowling scholarship.
For LineHop's first product SnackBar, it was really a combination of working in the bowling center, seeing the need to increase food and beverage sales while also participating in the sport and noticing that often bowlers (including myself) won't walk to the other side of the bowling alley to order something to eat or drink.
What are your goals for the rest of 2013?
Our goals for 2013 are to gain major traction in the bowling industry. The bowling industry is a very close knit community so there's a strong possibility to sign up hundreds of bowling centers in a short amount of time. Depending on how that goes, since our technology is very transferable we may begin to look at launching another product in another industry.
What other companies or apps did you look to for inspiration while building LineHop/SnackBar?
We didn't know at first, but we are very similar to another Chicago start up called FanGo which got acquired by GrubHub a few years ago. FanGo allowed fans attending sports venues the ability to order food from their stadium seat and have it delivered to them. Whenever I talk to anyone in the startup community in Chicago about SnackBar, they instantly call it "FanGo in the bowling alley!"
What is the coolest feature your app offers?
The coolest feature in the SnackBar app in my opinion is the overall service associated with the app. Not having to wait in line at the bar or have your friends yell at you for spending too much time at the restaurant while you're paying by the hour to bowl.
Currently, LineHop has 200 registered users and is live in Diversey River Bowl. With some seed funding from a bowling alley owner, Dinelli has plans to expand into the hotel, golf course and convention center industries as well.
Image via Next Door Chi.