A college English class might not be the first place you’d think a software startup would get off the ground. But that’s exactly where the concept behind Queues was born.
Samuel Porta was given an assignment during his freshman English seminar at Georgia Tech that would end up shaping the rest of his college years and early professional career. He was tasked with pitching a solution to a problem he wanted to solve.
There was one big problem he wanted to solve: The frustrating experience of waiting in lines.
On campus, lines are a particularly big problem at cafeterias and coffee shops when busy students are trying to grab a bite between classes.
“It’s a problem that’s been around for ages, but no one has ever solved for it,” Porta told Hypepotamus.
The initial team was born out of people in that English class who helped write the first lines of code for Queues and build out the MVP.
Today, Queues is all about using sensors and software to “make lines as efficient as possible.” It does this by telling users how long lines are at a place they are thinking about going next…whether it is a coffee shop on campus or a restaurant out in town.
The Story Behind Building Queues
Queues has evolved quite a bit since that English Class MVP, which Porta said consisted of three buttons on a screen. The team went through Create-X and Startup Launch, two of the premier entrepreneurial programs on Georgia Tech’s campus.
Momentum was on their side at the start of 2020. Its pilot program on Georgia Tech’s campus helped create a 20% reduction in peak wait times. During that the team built up strong connections with the campus dining halls to test its up-to-the-minute tablet tool.
The team ultimately took home the top honors at InVenture Prize in 2020, a $20,000 student pitch competition on campus.
Three days later, the State of Georgia implemented stay at home orders for COVID-19.
“That was tough…we realized our idea wasn’t pandemic proof,” Porta said. “We had all the wind knocked out of our sails. All of a sudden, our entire business model – which was going up and touching [a tablet] surface to report a wait time and waiting in line — went up in smoke.”
Porta and the team spent the early days of the pandemic rethinking how computer vision and machine learning could better detect and predict wait times.
Building Queues is an important time-saving tool for students. But it could also mean big monetary opportunities for colleges looking to increase the number of students who stay on meal plans over the years. Many students end up staying on meal plans simply because their schedule lines up with non-peak times at dining halls.
Ultimately, Porta sees his technology rolling out at sports stadiums, restaurants, airports, and pretty much any place where people queue.
“Our goal is that in the next decade, we’ll have one of our sensors everywhere there’s a line in the US,” added Porta.
To achieve that goal, Queues has taken on its first round of institutional funding.
The startup secured a $1.1 million from lead investor Atlanta Ventures, along with Kenzie Lane Innovation & Christopher Klaus’s Fusen Fund.
This is 2x the funding commitment the early-stage startup set out to secure.
Moving forward, Porta sees an opportunity to build Queues as an AI analytics company for businesses of all kinds that could benefit from predicting wait times.
The funding will allow other members of the Queues team to join full-time and work towards expanding its sales efforts.
The goal is to grow the team to 5 full-time employees by the end of the year while fulfilling 100 campus pilot programs, according to Porta.
Featured Photo by Hal Gatewood