Table-top solution to waiting in line

New digital menu speeds up ordering in cafes and restaurants

Diarmaid Murphy: Promo Pads’ initial revenue will come from selling ads on its digital menus

Diarmaid Murphy: Promo Pads’ initial revenue will come from selling ads on its digital menus

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There are few situations that stress test one’s patience more than waiting to be served in a cafe or restaurant. Most people fume silently as time marches on. Diarmaid Murphy decided to do something about it and has developed a digital menu system that allows customers order directly from their tables with no need to wait for a server.

Murphy, who recently retired from the defence forces after 16 years, had his “eureka” moment for Promo Pads while sitting in a cafe with his wife. He really wanted another coffee, but with a dozen people waiting in line to be served, he gave it a miss. “How many times have you wanted another drink or a dessert but simply didn’t bother because it was too much hassle? It actually happens to me quite regularly because I’m not the most patient person,” he says.

“While looking at ways to solve the problem I came across table-top menus in the US. They’re still a young product there, but the value to premises and customers is already well proven. At the time, I was also researching business opportunities in the Internet of Things space and the two came together to create our patent pending network of table-top digital menus.”

Promo Pads was set up just over a year ago and has five staff. The company’s main focus is the hospitality trade and it is making it as easy as possible for venues to engage with its system by providing the menu hardware (essentially a tablet) free of charge. The system will also sits alongside existing point of sale units so there are no set-up costs.

Promo Pads’ initial revenue will come from selling ads on its digital menus. Asked how it intends to attract advertisers into the already saturated digital space, Murphy says: “By creating a brand new advertising channel that will emulate what Google’s search engine did 20 years ago – create huge value in two different sectors and generate revenue from one product to support the other.

“Like most people, we were fed up with pop-up ads and two decades of online advertising that irritated and alienated its audience,” he adds. “It has taken two years of market research but we have exciting plans to turn the advertising industry on its head through the use of incredibly engaging interactive advertising. The ads will be silent and unobtrusive and will offer customers incentives such as a free tasting or a product discount when ordering. We intend to reach people in a way that provides real value to them.”

The company’s first target market is Dublin city and the service will be piloted in the capital shortly. Roll out to the rest of Ireland and into the UK will follow a funding round in September. Start-up costs to date have been in the order of €80,000 in private funding and the company has also received support from Kildare LEO. Murphy has recently completed the Enterprise Ireland-backed New Frontiers entrepreneurs programme at the LINC in Blanchardstown IT.

Table-top tablets sound like an easy steal for the light fingered, but Murphy says the company has this covered. “To deter people from walking away with a unit it has a single locked-down function which is the menu. It can’t be used for anything else such as getting internet access. We will also anchor the units to the tables in outdoor settings,” he says.

Promo Pads is cloud based and a range of additional features are in the pipeline. The company has already entered an agreement with European mobile point of sale provider, SumUp, to offer a payments system that complies with all the necessary regulation. Once this becomes operational what can often be a frustrating wait for the bill becomes history as customers can self-pay at their table.

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