In his prior life as an real estate broker for international students in Boston, Julian Jung went to a lot of nightclubs and saw a lot of bottles of high-end liquor ordered. Jung says he has witnessed upwards of $15,000 spent in a single night in Boston, and has seen epic $50,000 evenings in New York.
Yet he was surprised how complicated it was for big spenders and groups of friends out for a special occasion to nab a table at a nightclub. “I was using apps like Uber and Hotel Tonight a lot,” says Jung, who graduated from Northeastern University last year. “And I was surprised that there wasn’t a way to book tables at clubs and lounges, and get that level of convenience that I wanted.” Jung says there are more than 10,000 lounges, bars, and roof decks that offer some sort of VIP service.
His solution, the mobile app Tablelist, went live last November in Boston, and has since expanded to Las Vegas, New York City, and the Hamptons. “Like Uber, we have options that go from the taxi level up to a luxury SUV,” Jung says. “We have $150 tables you can reserve at a lounge, all the way up to $5000 or $7000 tables. We did a $7000 table in the Hamptons recently.” These “bottle service” or “table service” reservations include bottles of wine or liquor.
Last week, Jung wrapped up a $1.5 million funding round on the site AngelList; new backers include Boston-based Twitter exec Wayne Chang and Jason Carroll of the hedge fund Hudson River Trading. That brings the total the seven-person startup has raised to $2 million. (Update: In August, Tablelist said it had increased the round to $2 million, and also hired former HubSpot design executive Keith Frankel as its Chief Digital Officer.)
The Tablelist app is available for iPhone and Android. After entering a credit card, you can browse tables available for a given night and make a reservation. Then, you choose the brands of Champagne or liquor you’d like included. When you arrive at the club, there’s no waiting in line. Tablelist takes a 15 to 25 percent fee of the gross booking. (From left in the photo: Tablelist team members Brin Chartier, Julian Jung and Alex Johnson.)
Tablelist currently works with about 30 venues in and around Boston, including Shrine at Foxwoods, and 40 in New York. Jung says that Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are next. Kyla Moore, formerly at the Speakeasy Hospitality Group in Boston, which runs clubs like Tunnel and Minibar, handles venue relationships for the startup.
Just as Uber introduced more urbanites to town car service, Jung has visions of “opening up table service to more of the mass market. We’re demystifying this industry,” he says, which has previously relied on promoters and concierges to fill VIP tables. And he sees natural opportunities for expansion. “Our clients want us to handle everything related to nightlife: tickets to shows, the reservation at a great restaurant, and so on.”
Tablelist in based near South Station in Boston, at the WeWork shared space.
Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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