Bentonville entrepreneur to launch Switcharoo mobile app March 1

by Paul Gatling ( 711 views 

A new iPhone app that has been in development by a Bentonville entrepreneur has an official launch date.

Software company Arooroo Inc., doing business as Switcharoo, has developed a peer-to-peer mobile app that allows individuals waiting in line to bid on spots with shorter wait times, like, for example, at a restaurant.

Company founder and CEO Ryan Parks said it will be available for free download for Apple users on March 1. It will be available to Google/Android users “a couple months” after that, Parks said.

Here’s how Switcharoo works. You arrive at a restaurant and find the wait time is 45 minutes. Or if the food is really good, 60 minutes. To the hungry — and impatient — members of your party, that’s unacceptable.

Open the Switcharoo app, check to see if there are other Switcharoo users who have a shorter wait time, then offer to buy their place in line. If the bid is accepted, the two parties switch places in line.

Switcharoo earns 15% of the bid, which is one of several ways the company hopes to potentially derive revenue. Parks says updated versions of the app will feature advertising potential through geofencing, as well as transitioning to a system of earning interest on customer accounts.

“In essence, we would act as our own bank, but there are a lot of regulations to work through for that to happen, which would require a finance team,” he said. “But that is a goal, to have the money in our own system.”

Parks said Switcharoo will build its user base initially through social media and influencer marketing. He also said the company has closed a significant portion of a $500,000 seed funding round, headed by lead investor Amy Callahan, co-founder of Rogers shopper marketing agency Collective Bias. Callahan is one of three investors in Switcharoo, all of them in Northwest Arkansas.

“Right now, our focus is on getting the app launched, closing the seed round, then focusing on staff,” said Parks, the company’s lone employee, outside of a handful of independent contractors.

Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, a co-founder and previously the chief marketing officer, departed in January to launch his own clothing business, called LIVSN Designs. Gibbs-Dabney’s hiring at Switcharoo was announced this past October. He was previously CEO and COO of Fayetteville apparel company Fayettechill Clothing Co.

Parks said Gibbs-Dabney departed on good terms.

“It was an opportunity for him to start his own clothing brand,” he said.

Parks said the idea behind Switcharoo addresses a proven consumer pain point — waiting in line. And for some, as the saying goes, time is money.

Parks described himself as impatient by nature, thus the motivation behind Switcharoo, and he’s not alone. According to a study in The New York Times, Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting for all sorts of things.

To that end, Parks sees Switcharoo evolving to meet consumer demand wherever there is a wait time required, not just at restaurants, and in large markets throughout the U.S.

“Anywhere there is a wait time,” he explained. “Maybe you are waiting on-line to buy the new Tesla 3. Or an iPhone. Or Black Friday. Or maybe getting your child into a new daycare. Starting with restaurants is simply a beachhead. The vision for Switcharoo is other forms of waiting. Anywhere there is a wait time we feel like we have a market.”

Parks said the exit strategy for Switcharoo, hopefully within five years, isn’t unlike most tech startups — to either be acquired or go public.