Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A new group of start-ups is up and running after an intensive weekend at the Syracuse Tech Garden.
Fifteen companies were formed out of dozens of ideas pitched at Start Up Syracuse, which provides seed money to help them get going.
One such company from the first ever Start Up Syracuse last year -- UpFront -- designed an app that enables patrons at downtown eateries to find out when their table is ready without having to stick around until it is. The app may someday help those same patrons make reservations.
The app is now used by about a dozen restaurants, but it’s still a work in progress.
"How do you scale it for the restaurant, that's kind of what we're trying to figure out. How do we make this thing perfect so that any restaurant wants this as their front-of-house solution,” said UpFront Founder Nick Mancini.
The company is barely one year old. Mancini, a college senior, walked into Start Up Syracuse last year with an idea and walked out with more than he ever figured at that point, which is part of the design of the event.
"Basically they say an idea is worth nothing, it's about the implementation, so it's really: 'I have an idea, let's work on it, let's validate that idea,'” said Emerging Business Portfolio Centerstate CEO Mitchell Patterson.
"Start Up weekend really put the people in place to get the ball rolling. I can code a little bit, but not proficient enough and I actually met a really talented developer and we ended up co-founding the company,” Mancini said.
One of the ideas behind the app is to replace the old buzzer system that lights up. Each one can cost between $40 and $120 and they can wander away with patrons unknowingly, costing a business overtime and they keep you tied down to the restaurant where you're at.
“It's a penny per text message and it's actually free to the restaurants we're working with right now. We just want them to use it and tell us what they like and don't like, figure out how we can make this the best we can,” Mancini said.
Mancini says the app has more uses than in restaurants. It can be used anywhere that customers have to wait. He believes that even if the venture fails in Syracuse, it might work in some other sector.
Organizers say about half of the companies formed will move forward. They are planning two events next year in Syracuse and two each in Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany.