KNOXVILLE—DineTouch LLC and its University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student founders Joey Natour and Seth Elliott received the inaugural Boyd Venture Fund grant, worth $10,000.
The seed-granting fund, administered by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the College of Business Administration, is available to UT Knoxville student-owned businesses. Funding is awarded each spring and fall.
Natour and Elliott both graduated from UT Knoxville in May 2011—Natour with a degree in management (entrepreneurship collateral) and Elliott with a degree in computer science. They will receive the $10,000 grant as they achieve agreed-upon milestones. As part of the award, the Anderson Center will be connecting the founders to a mentor who will help them build their business.
DineTouch is a revolutionary software platform that allows restaurant-goers to control and enhance their dining experience. Using an at-table touchscreen, diners can order directly from their table, specify their desired food delivery, and pay at the table. As a result, servers can cover a larger area, restaurants can be more flexible in their daily offerings, and customers can experience reduced wait times.
“We are extremely grateful and honored to be the inaugural recipients of the Boyd Venture Fund,” said Natour and Elliott. “The funds will help us purchase critical items, such as secure servers to handle online transactions. In the world of touchscreen purchasing, security for the consumer as well as the dining establishment is essential.”
The concept, currently being beta-tested at Café 4 on Market Square in Knoxville, has won over servers and managers who had initial doubts about the concept’s viability. DineTouch is moving to add a mobile application so restaurants won’t need the touchscreen device.
“DineTouch has streamlined our ordering process and made it more efficient,” said Chad Cox, Café 4′s front-of-house manager. “Customer reaction has been extremely positive. The customer-centric system cuts out the middleman, yet customers still can have server interaction when they want it. DineTouch allows orders to come in faster and be delivered per specific customer requests.”
“Creating new local businesses is the cornerstone to a community’s success. They create jobs, pay taxes that fund other investments such as education, and support the local community with philanthropy,” fund benefactor Randy Boyd said. “I cannot imagine a better return on investment than supporting future generations of entrepreneurs.”
The awards committee consisted of John Morris of Tech2020′s Center for Entrepreneurial Growth, Chris Miller of Meritus Ventures, and Lynn Youngs from the Anderson Center. They evaluated nine entries based on business viability, need for capital, and growth potential. All agreed that the DineTouch concept has significant scalability.
The Boyd Venture Fund is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of the PetSafe, Invisible Fence, and SportDog brands. Radio Systems Corporation’s 625 associates worldwide produce the industry’s most popular and innovative products in pet training, containment, safety, and lifestyle for an audience dear to their hearts: their own pets.
For more information about the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration, visit http://bus.utk.edu.
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