Taking dining into hi-tech age

Promo Pads founder Diarmuid Murphy is hugely excited about the prospects for the Dine tabletop system, writes Trish Dromey.

Bringing high technology to the dining out experience, Kildare start-up Promo Pads is planning to pilot its digital tabletop menu devices in a Kildare restaurant next month.

Promo Pads solution — which involves menu devices linked to a behind-the-counter unit — is, according to
company founder and CEO Diarmuid Murphy, the first custom tabletop
ordering and point-of-sale system to be launched on the market in Europe.

He said there are huge benefits for customers in being able to order
digitally — they don’t have to queue, wait around for a server, or leave without ordering because they couldn’t get a server’s attention.

For the restaurants, he says, it increases efficiency, customer satisfaction and turnover.

“Similar systems in the US have demonstrated up to 27% revenue increase during peak times,” he said.

The Dine experience developed by the company isn’t just about menu ordering. To make the system affordable for restaurants, the device has also been designed to work as an advertising medium.

Promo Pads, Mr Murphy explained, will earn its revenue by charging a monthly subscription to restaurants and also by selling advertising on the devices.

“They can be used to display menu promotions for the premises and also to display silent advertising which doesn’t interfere with the dining experience,” he said.

He adds that market research indicated that this location-based form of advertising will work well.

“A local café or bar is the perfect place to advertise local goods and services,” he said.

The setting up of the company was prompted by the frustration of waiting in a long queue in a coffee shop.

“I wanted a second cup of coffee but there were 12 people ahead of me — so I left,” said Mr Murphy.

An Irish army officer working in project management, Mr Murphy decided that this was a problem that could be solved by technology so he conducted some research into the area.

“I discovered that there were two companies in the US offering digital tabletop menus. Between them, these now have 350,000 tabletops and they are still expanding.”

He said that the development in this type of digital ordering solution only became viable in the last few years because of the advances in electronics and internet technology.

Deciding that there was an opportunity for this type of technology in Europe, he took leave of absence from the army and signed up to do an MBA.

After conducting further research, he registered the company in April last year and enrolled in an Enterprise
Ireland New Frontiers Programme in Blanchardstown.

In May, Mr Murphy fully committed to the project and retired from the army. Setting up Promo Pads in Newbridge, he used his own funding and that of family and friends to recruit and develop, and hire paid interns.

“We developed the software in-house and also designed the tabletop devices — we have filed a patent application on the process involved,” he said, adding that the components for the devices are sourced from various locations and assembled in Newbridge.

Supported by Kildare Local Enterprise Office, Promo Pads now has two full-time employees.

“Our team also includes two co-founders who work part time and two non-executive directors,” said Mr Murphy, who has now advertised for three developers.

“We will pilot the device in Kildare at the start of September. After that, we plan to begin selling in Dublin and to
expand in to the UK by quarter one of next year,” he said.

Although it’s an early stage company, Promo Pads has very ambitious plans for future growth.

“Based on our projections, we will need 60 staff by the end of 2020. Next month, we will launch a seed funding round to raise up to €1m.”

The company plans to use this funding to employ both sales people and developers and bring the staff size up to 20 by the end of this year.

Mr Murphy is hugely excited about the prospects for the Dine tabletop system which he believes can bring significant benefits to merchants while also improving customer experience in cafés, bars and restaurants.


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