Episode 149 (10/20/2018) – Featuring Robb Myer (NoWait)

The Day When “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” Was Actually Useful


It is said that many of the best business ideas are often derived from a simple need.

And one day, all Robb Myer needed was a place to have lunch.

He was in San Francisco, and it was lunchtime.  He went to a restaurant that had a reputation for long wait times, and they put his name on a chalkboard.  Quaint, but uninformative.  There was no formal indication of just how long the wait would be.  Pass.

Next place he went, he put his name in the queue and was told the wait would be “about an hour”….better, but not really all that specific.  Pass

One more stop, one more line.  But when he was told, “OK, just give us your phone number, and we’ll call you when the table’s ready,” it was truly a “Wait, what?” moment for Robb.

You can do that?  Really?

Sure, there was still a wait, about as long as the other spots, actually, but at least now, Robb could go run some errands, work out, go for a walk, or just do whatever.  He was free, and not tethered by the actual, physical line at the restaurant.

“Why didn’t more places take this very simple step,”, Robb thought.  And putting his technical aptitude and entrepreneurial mind to work, Robb wondered if that process could be automated.  How about if the restaurant sent a text, instead of a call?  How about if you knew how long the line was going to be in advance, without have to physically set foot in the establishment?

And soon, after substantial research on both the customer and restaurant ends of the process, No Wait was born.

And grew. And grew.   And in the process, No Wait streamlined the process….substantially……of waiting in line for your next meal, for restaurants throughout the country.  It was a technology that was taking the restaurant and hospitality industries by storm, and many were taking notice.

Ultimately, one of the online titans of customer-based online hospitality, Yelp, took notice.

And liked it.

And bought it.

For $40 Million, in March of 2017.

And thus, Robb Myer became the newest in a long string of Western Pennsylvania entrepreneurial success stories, and he has moved on to mentor the future Robb Myers of the world, as the Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University (his alma mater), while continuing to shape his own legacy as one of the most innovative, enterprising minds in the country.

(And an award-winning one to boot, including the “Entrepreneur” award in the 2018 Carnegie Science Awards.  No small feat, considering the lofty standards of the judging paired, chaired by ANOTHER Western Pennsylvania entrepreneurial success story you may have heard of.)

All because he just needed to find a place to have lunch.

On this edition of “The Raja Show”, Robb joins Raja in studio to discuss his story, that of No Wait, and the impact that No Wait, and other successful startups, have had in boosting the region’s profile on the national, if not global, entrepreneurial landscape.  It’s a true success story born in Western Pennsylvania, and Raja is excited to share it on his show.

Listen to the full show here.