Waiting in line for food and drink has become one of San Francisco's most unfortunate pastimes these days. Head to your nearest artisan cafe on any given morning to see this trend in action. Now, Square aims to relieve the time you queue up for choice coffee with Order, a recently launched app that allows you to pre-order your daily brew and have it waiting for you when you get to your favorite cafe.
A few years ago, Arram Sabeti was working for the startup Justin.tv, where one of his daily duties was ordering lunch. The company was hiring at the time, and went from nine people to thirty.
Looking back on that experience now, he recalls that dealing with everyone’s food preferences (from the carnivores to vegetarians to vegans) became “the biggest pain, the most draining thing I’d ever had to do.”
It may come as a surprise, therefore, to find out that today Sabeti is doing pretty much the same work, albeit on a far larger scale.
He’s running his own startup, ZeroCater, which arranges for some 14,000 meals a month to be delivered from 80 leading local restaurants to companies all over the Bay Area.
But the difference between how he did had to do this work back then and how his company does it now says a lot about how technology can turn formerly painful tasks into profitable new businesses.
And, it also helps explain why consumer-oriented startups are disrupting virtually every aspect of our lives here in the Bay Area and beyond.
Jack Dorsey's Square, which may just make old-school registers obsolete with their Square Card Readers, Square Registers and Card Cases, is HQ-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle Building on 5th and Mission. In what some might say is a changing of the guard, the start up's original 10 employees set up shop in the Chronicle's Human Resources floor in December of 2009.
Try Out Square's Card Case at Sightglass, Smitten Ice Cream, Pinkie's Bakery, Devil's Teeth, and 10 Other Bay Area Merchants
It's easy to imagine some things of our not-so-distant past — land phones, Myspace, headgear — being studied in history courses or ending up as set pieces in period theme parks. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's new(ish) venture Square, headquartered in the Chronicle Building in SoMa, may soon add cash registers to that list. The company is moving towards a near billion dollar funding round and its Square Credit Card Readers now process more than $3 million per day in mobile payments. The Card Readers fit into mobile devices to allow merchants to process credit card transactions (Square makes money by charging 2.75 percent per transaction fee) on-the-go or without a register.
And just last month at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, Square revealed the latest in their register-busting product fleet, The Square Register for the iPad, which is currently being used by 14 "beta" merchants around San Francisco, and the Square Card Case for consumers, which is essentially a virtual wallet. After a first credit card swipe, participating merchants can send customers a link to download the Square Card Case app (for both iPhone and Android), which allows you to open a "tab" at a vendor and then pay straight from your phone for all future purchases. They'll send you a receipt via mobile text to approve, which will then go into your payment history at the vendor.