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11/1/2007
08:58 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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GoMobo Brings Fandango-Like Advance Ordering To Your Morning Coffee Run

I've got an addition to my list of favorite mobile apps, to go alongside the GrandCentral phone service I told you about last month. It's GoMobo, a startup which brings you a way to order food via cell phone text messages.

I've got an addition to my list of favorite mobile apps, to go alongside the GrandCentral phone service I told you about last month. It's GoMobo, a startup which brings you a way to order food via cell phone text messages.When you get to the restaurant or donut store, you can bypass the long wait and pick up your order. "GoMobo is like Fandango for food," says Noah Glass, the young and dynamic CEO of the startup. Fandango is, of course, the innovative operation which enables moviegoers to order tickets online, the better to ensure they get into the latest hot flick without waiting in an endless Friday night queue.

Signing up is pretty much like you'd expect. You go to GoMobo, get a logon password, and leave your credit card number on file. You can place orders the traditional online way, via your browser. (Isn't it funny to realize that this is slightly old-fashioned nowadays?) But the real beauty of GoMobo is the mobile access. You can be sitting in your car, decide it's time for lunch, and text-message your order ahead to the store. Hopefully, you'll only be doing this from the passenger seat.

The service started in New York City and is now ready to roll out nationwide. The one downside to the service right now is there are not that many restaurants signed up, even in GoMobo's home market. I asked Glass about that, because I was wondering whether GoMobo will be relying more on a grass-roots expansion model where users encourage (demand!) that their favorite outlets sign on, or whether the company has a serious marketing budget to get its expansion in gear.

Here's what Glass came back with: "GoMobo is laser-focused on growing the largest network of busy restaurants and coffee shops in Manhattan. We're also recruiting sales reps and launching at top restaurants in other key cities, like b.good in Boston. We've made it easy for customers to spread the word and now any restaurant in the U.S. can sign up online at www.gomobo.com/join. By the end of 2008, we plan to be live in three major cities with over 5,000 restaurants in the GoMobo Network."

Five thousand outlets is nothing to sneeze at, and I'm wishing these guys well because I believe it's a great idea.

There's just one thing I'm wondering about, and it relates to the "Skip the line" service, which is how GoMobo encapsulates the advantage of advance mobile order. Perhaps this pertains more to the market in which I live than elsewhere, but say I "GoMobo" for my Dunkin' latte and muffin.

When I walk into the store and head straight to the counter to pick up my order, am I gonna get a New York welcome from someone who's been waiting and thinks I'm cutting the line? That could ruin my whole day.

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