A team of young Twin Cities entrepreneurs is working to streamline your dining experience with their new app, Tavolo.

Users of Tavolo will be able to browse restaurants’ menus, order, and pay for their meals through the app, which will make going out to eat less time-consuming.

Tavolo co-founder Taranvir Johal will present on Tavolo at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, October 3.

The app began as an idea pitched by Abdi Hassan at a start-up weekend hosted by Google and Tech Stars. Johal was a member of the team that assembled around the idea for the competition.

“Tavolo ended up getting second place,” Johal said.

Hassan sought to disrupt the status quo of eating out at restaurants because of a dining experience of his own, where he found himself first waiting to get a table, then waiting to get service, waiting to order, and waiting for his food to arrive—all those small periods of time added up.

“He had essentially been at the restaurant for an hour and he hadn’t eaten anything,” Johal said.

Getting an app like Tavolo off the ground requires bringing a lot of restaurant owners on board with the concept. As they started building Tavolo, Hassan, Johal, and their collaborators used a bold strategy to start putting the app’s name in the ears of people who could help them—they started sending out direct LinkedIn messages, looking for meetings with everyone they could think of whose input could be helpful to the app’s success. They ended up getting a meeting with Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which owns 10 restaurants in the Twin Cities.

“They absolutely loved the idea,” Johal said. “We ended up getting 10 restaurants just with that organization.”

Per Johal, their meeting came at a fortuitous time because Blue Plate had recently made the decision to part ways with a similar company they had been using for their restaurants after poor consumer response to it.

Johal said the first bunch of collaborators to come on board with Tavolo were able to construct a basic version of the app on their own, but one of the first challenges the company they faced was putting together a tech team.

“Our biggest issue was finding individuals who had the skills we didn’t have,” Johal said.

Since then, they have partnered with Design U, the University of Minnesota’s nonprofit product development consultancy.

Goals for the immediate future of the company are to get the first version of the app finished by December, after which a small group of early users will begin testing the app, helping alert the team to any kinks so they can work them out before releasing a second version of the app to the app store for public download and use, tentatively in the spring of 2019.

Johal said they hope for Tavolo to have 1,000 downloads next year as a benchmark of its viability. They might also pursue acceptance into an accelerator program.

They have gathered input on what will be desirable for the app using an online survey of consumers, and they have also used metrics as a selling point for restaurants—the app tracks various types of data about the experiences of customers who dine using it, and Johal said the information they can provide could help restaurants staff more efficiently.

“The feedback has been absolutely amazing,” Johal said.

Taranvir Johal will present on behalf of Tavolo at 1Million Cups Fargo on October 3. 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park. For more information on 1 Million Cups, visit emergingprairie.com. For more information on Tavolo, visit Tavolo App on Facebook.

Austin Gerth