For Larry Weru, there's always been a better way to do things. Since his time as an undergraduate at Florida State, he took on web projects that aimed to optimize, some incrementally, others wholesale, existing processes. The objects of his reinvention have varied--everything from a better mobile ticketing system to a color-theory infused improvement on the typical bipartisan political map (a project that, incidentally, landed him on FastCompany)--but his solution-driven approach never wavered.
For his next act, Weru has taken aim at a waiting room near you. His story is the sort you hear from many great entrepreneurs, one that proves the infamous adage of preparation meeting opportunity. Sitting in an FSU advising office, he watched advisors repeatedly leave their office to check for walk-in traffic. Many of the students did not have appointments and the advisors lacked a remote way of knowing who was waiting and how long they'd been there. "They did this all day, every day," he said. The advising staff's "boomerang dance" reminded Weru of an idea for a waiting list solution he'd toyed with in the past.
"Suddenly the idea that I had tossed to the back of my head revealed itself to be something with real-life value, half a year later," he said. "I thought that it could help the advisers."
Three semesters later, AstroQueue has handled more than 20,000 student check-ins across many of Florida State's largest advising departments. Having worked closely with his first customers, Weru was quick to list AstroQueue's many value propositions, including putting an end to the boomerang dance. "With a digital waiting list the advisers are notified at the exact moment someone checks in to see them. They’re able to access visitor data from anywhere--even generate charts and graphs from the collected information," he said.
Weru gained traction by testing an early stage product on a small set of initial customers. After a couple of meetings with FSU staff, he said an agreement was reached with one of the advising departments: "I’d develop my web-app and they’d be my guinea pigs. They started using it the day the bare minimum was up and running last summer. Since then, not a single business day has gone by that they haven't used AstroQueue to handle their walk-in traffic."
As we all know though, universities do not hold a monopoly on the waiting room. Its sights set on continued growth, AstroQueue recently removed the invitation key, allowing, as Weru put it, "anyone who stumbles upon it to sign up." Large-scale marketing efforts and premium tier features--the first of which is the addition of SMS text message alerts--are in the works. Weru says his "current focus is to grow the team and work on instructional material so potential users can quickly learn how to use AstroQueue."
Wherever it heads, one thing is clear: with an entrepreneur like Weru at the helm, AstroQueue is well on its way to bringing a compelling and creative solution to market.