The frustration of spending most of a lunch break queueing for food may be about to disappear thanks to an invention born in Canary Wharf.
Instantt allows customers to order and pay for their food and drinks from a range of different restaurants and cafes through an app.
It places customers in a virtual queue, with their position calculated from their location, their order and how many other people are waiting.
It then tell users when their order will be ready, where to go to pick it up and even how many steps they will take on the way.
The app, which launched in Easter 2016 from One Canada Square-based tech accelerator space Level39, has already amassed 5,000 users and is accepted in nearly 40 restaurants in Canary Wharf and the City.
Founder and chief executive, Vik Sharma, said he hoped 300 merchants would have signed up to Instantt by the end of 2017.
Vik previously worked on IT risk programs for Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf, and said the idea of Instantt was born when he realised he was spending all of his limited lunch breaks queueing.
He said: “I wanted to find a solution to this, but it seemed like no one had come up with one.
“The whole world is going digital, so why should we still have to queue?
“With Instantt, you’re not jumping the queue or skipping the queue – your mobile queues for you virtually.
“We want to make people more productive. It’s about getting out of the door, getting some air and getting something fresh and healthy to eat without spending all your time waiting.
“It’s extra time to enjoy the sunshine.”
Instantt head of sales and branding Andy Clark said: “Even if you only have a few minutes for lunch, sometimes the last thing you want to do is order to your desk.
“And the people who run these shops and restaurants have put time into them because they want to see you walk through the door and speak to you.
“This way people still come through the door, rather than just someone in a helmet collecting the food. We preserve the social interaction. Everyone wins.”
He added: “This isn’t about any old food. We select who we want to work with.
“We’re about fresh, healthy and really good food.”
The app allows users to filter restaurants by dietary requirement and remembers previous orders so customers can re-order their favourites in a matter of seconds.
It is currently used by Canary Wharf merchants Garbanzos (in Reuters Plaza), Cafe Brera , Bene Bene and Krüger , with Protein Haus and Zabardast joining soon, as well as a host of others across the capital.
Instantt has also joined up with the Pecking Order restaurant at Barnet’s football stadium The Hive ahead of the next season, to allow football fans to quickly pick up their orders at half time without queueing and worrying that they will miss anything.
And Vik has big ideas for Instantt, wanting to conquer not just London but also the rest of the world.
He said: “The idea is, one day, that if you went to Dubai or New York the app would seek out where you can get your favourite coffee or lunch for you when you land. It would tell you the price in the local currency, and you could pay through the app without worrying about exchanging money.
“I want to see it move into petrol stations, and even one day it could be used for general shopping and not just food. There are a lot of applications.
“Life’s too short to queue.”
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