In Car Haters and Idea Guys
, episode 66 of Build and Analyze
made the point that a good idea is worth very little if you can't execute on it.
He elaborated on how he would go to meet ups and people would want him to sign NDAs, stating that all they needed was the cash/programmers/resources/etc. and they would have a really great product that would make all kinds of money. Of course, these people never got the cash/programmers/resources/etc. because they didn't have an actionable plan they could immediately execute.
Arment also went on to say that if you have an idea, chances are your idea either isn't that great or it's already been done before and you just don't know it yet.
A number of years ago, when I was gainfully employed at a sit-down restaurant, I wondered about creating software that would seat people dynamically as the crowds came into the restaurant. This would include handling reservations on the fly. The software would have to know that you have round tables that can seat five people, but are usually square tables that seat four. The software would also need to know which tables can be put together for larger parties.
While I know I'm not the sharpest tool on the Christmas tree or the brightest bulb in the shed (after all, I only have a third grade certificate of attendance) I thought this was a pretty clever idea. I also thought that what was on my side was the difficulty of solving the problem because of all of the mathematics and business logic involved. I envisioned one day hiring a grad student to help with the math/set theory needed to make this software work. I even imagined many days after that day, I would eventually release such a piece of software into the world.
It turns out, I have been beaten to the punch.
There is a company called Guest Bridge
with a software title of the same name that functionally does what I had envisioned and more.
What's more, Guest Bridge is the first hit on Google for my search.
I think that there could be utilization in making the software run on some central server(s) and allowing for all kinds of clients: POS terminals, pocket devices (iPhone, iPod Touch), tablets (iPad).
It's nice to think about perhaps one day offering competition in this space, but as Clayton Christensen's Theory of Innovative Disruption
states, the incumbent would likely win. I'm not entirely sure if I could be good enough or last long enough for acquisition.
While I'm curious to know the algorithms/logic used to figure out the seating, I'm glad I don't have to solve that problem. It seems like a lot of work! On the flip side, if OpenTable–the acquirer or Guest Bridge–wishes to provide an internship, I'm game…if the price is right. :P