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Kansas City is nearing its attempt at an economic rebound and TileFive wants to support the healthy reopening of small businesses with the launch of its latest tech tool — People Count.
“A lot of customers aren’t going to feel comfortable coming to a business if it’s really packed,” said Andrew Potter, founding partner of the Overland Park-based software startup, noting hesitations business owners like him are anticipating when social distancing efforts are relaxed — as early as next week.
Click here to read the latest on Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ plan to reopen businesses amid the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, beginning May 6.
Designed to ease such fears about reopening, the newly launched People Count app enables businesses to track the capacity of their space and display it to customers in real time, he explained.
“When people walk into the business, the front desk staff is simply checking them in as they come in. It’s live. You never have to refresh your page or do anything like that,” Potter said of the technology, which can be used anywhere from gyms to grocery stores.
“Some people are putting an iPad up in the window of their business that will show what the count is, and then customers can walk up to the window and see if they can walk through the door,” he added, noting the transparency could help customers feel more secure and alleviate any awkwardness that might come from turning someone away.
Customers can also engage with People Count through an embedded counter on a company’s website or through the People Count mobile app wherever they are.
“You’ll be able to save the link to your most commonly visited places and then just open it and always see a live count.”
Click here to download the People Count app.
So far, more than 30 businesses have used People Count and the number of users is expected to continue ticking up, Potter said.
“We’ve got gyms, coffee shops, we have a brewery and some restaurants and we are in talks with a few bigger players that have 40 locations, for example,” he said.
Potter said he first noticed a need for People Count when the gym he frequents was hit by the city’s 10-person gathering limit in March.
“People were sitting in the parking lot and calling the gym every five minutes like, ‘Hey, can I come in now?’”
Thanks to quick action by TileFive’s other half, Luke Lim, founding partner, the pair and their team were able to launch People Count a little less than a month later, Potter said.
“As a company, we realized this would be a need and we came up with a [solution] together,” he added, noting TileFive has been able to keep its staff fully employed during the Coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic because of their pivot to developing People Count.
“Normally this would have taken quite a bit longer,” Potter said, crediting successful development of the app to his hardworking and resilient team.
“The fact that every one of our customers is currently shut down gave us the bandwidth to be able to focus on this because typically we wouldn’t be able to put the entire team on it.”
Developed and ready to deploy, People Count is looking toward the future — well aware its technology will be in high demand as the world ventures back outside, Potter said, noting TileFive opened a seed round in October and is taking advantage of Kansas Angel Tax Credits to draw in investors.
But People Count isn’t a cash grab for TileFive, he emphasized.
“We have a heavy goal of serving businesses and serving the community around us. We believe that if this app can help a business communicate with its customers and help them get opened back up — that’s good for everybody. It’s good for all businesses,” he said.
“If we’re all able to work together to get our community back on its feet — and if we get to be a small part of that — then that, for us, is a major win.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.