“Life is too short to wait in line.” That is the mantra of Mobo, of Koffee Too? banner and facebook.com group fame, the newest entrant to the technological revolution sweeping the service industry. Mobo joins the ranks of Netflix and campusfood.com, both of which employ automated systems to receive and process customer orders. While these other services are Internet-based and require computer access, Mobo is unique in its introduction of text messaging as a means of placing orders.
Mobo enables members to place orders at Koffee Too? via text messages, allowing regulars to bypass the often lengthy line by signing up at the easily navigated Mobo Web site (getmobo.com). After entering credit card information, new users can select up to five “favorites,” with a selection to satisfy even the most fastidious customer. Each favorite is then assigned a number, which, when texted to the Mobo headquarters, places the appropriate order. A confirmation text message is promptly sent, and orders are processed immediately and available for pick-up at a separate Mobo counter in Koffee Too? As the need for caffeine escalates throughout the semester — and that third shot of espresso becomes crucial — personal “favorites” are easily changed.
Launched by Noah Glass ’03, Mobo debuted in New Haven on November 28, 2005. Glass drew upon his experience as a coffee-crazed Yale student and the current popularity of text messaging to devise Mobo. Due to the coffee shop’s popularity, Glass thought Koffee Too? would be an appropriate location for Mobo’s launch. A resident of New York City, he felt that the Mobo service would suit the fast-paced lifestyle of New Haven university students.
“Time is precious,” Glass said. “By letting students pre-pay and pre-order, Mobo takes a bit of the hassle and stress out of everyday college life.”
Mobo has already attracted two hundred and seventeen members. Customers have been pleased with both the efficiency and the reliability of the service. Although appreciative of the efficacy, some members, such as Lauren Jacobson ’08, question the necessity of the service.
“When I go to the coffee shop it’s usually for leisure, not to run [in] and out just for a caffeine boost,” Jacobson explained.
Current Mobo user Kevin Chow ’08 expressed his wish to see Mobo spread to other New Haven restaurants and coffee shops such as Bulldog Burrito and Starbucks. Judging by the success of other automated Internet services, Mobo’s success would undoubtedly skyrocket with the incorporation of a larger client base. To best accommodate the consumer, perhaps, the Mobo service would benefit from training the system to process random orders — those not listed as favorites.
Glass has yet to master the beta system through which Mobo operates. He seeks to improve the rate of successful transmission from its current status at 98 percent to 100 percent, and sets this goal as a prerequisite for expansion.
Efficient to members, Mobo has also been lucrative to Koffee Too?. Free of charge to affiliates, Mobo has, Glass said, “helped increase customer loyalty, as customers who enjoy the convenience of Mobo come back with greater frequency.” Beyond solidifying a customer base, Glass reports that the comprehensive online listing of offerings has familiarized members with the hidden treasures of the Koffee Too? menu – for example, the portobello mushroom quesadilla.
“I had no idea Koffee Too? had great sandwiches until I used Mobo,” Zachary Bucknoff ’09 said. “I was addicted to them for about a week.”
Also a beneficiary of the Mobo service, the cell phone industry has been receptive to Glass’ proposals. Although Mobo has not yet finalized its partnership with Verizon, it has successfully connected with all other major mobile carriers.
“Companies seem eager to watch Mobo grow,” Glass said, “given that text messaging is an extremely popular … technology with 19.4 billion text messages sent in the third quarter of 2005.”
After its successful pilot program in New Haven, the future of Mobo is likely to be directed away from the Elm City to larger markets like New York City, where Glass plans to introduce the system to campus restaurants and coffee shops at various colleges and universities. Glass’ decision to remain in the college market is explained by his impression that students tend to be tech-savvy.
Despite its collegiate focus, the service is not designed exclusively for students. With its New York partners, the Mobo service will implement a 25-cent commission per order charged to customers after the thirty-day trial period.
In addition to geographical expansion, Glass ultimately intends to broaden Mobo’s capabilities to place movie-ticket and taxicab ordering under the command of the text messages.
Despite Mobo’s limited involvement in the New Haven service-industry, the future of mobile ordering seems promising. Perhaps the example set by Mobo at Koffee Too? will encourage other New Haven hotspots to jump on the bandwagon and persuade Glass to include New Haven in his nascent Mobo empire.
For the coffee enthusiast, the Mobo advantage is clear. Glass encourages prospective members to register at www.getmobo.com, where a five-dollar Koffee Too? credit awaits. If nothing else, it would boost your facebook.com status.