What were you doing at 16? Probably not founding your umpteenth startup, but that's precisely what Daniel Singer is up to: He just launched Cake.af, a text message-based service that aims to fill empty restaurant tables with hungry patrons via free Uber rides.
Users can sign up for the (free) Cake.af service by texting the cake emoji to the provided phone number; once they're registered, "the team at Cake.af will determine restaurants that have availability/open tables and send an invite to the customer detailing the establishment and the time of the reservation. If the customer accepts the invite, an Uber car will be sent to provide a free ride to the restaurant. If the customer is not interested in the restaurant or available, they can simply decline the invite."
"Restaurants that sign up now have a new way to help fill tables during slow times of the week and consumers are exposed to new dining establishments. It’s a win-win!" the tech wunderkind says via press release. (Or, as he explains further in language more befitting a 16-year-old: "Getting free rides and great food is lit, fam.") The service officially launches today in New York, LA, and San Francisco.
.af is a domain extension that typically signifies a website based in Afghanistan, but in Singer's case it does double duty as ubiquitous internet lexicon for "as fuck" (obviously). Singer says from the beginning, he knew "the name had to be an emoji," and from there choosing the shortcake emoji was an easy task. (The name has confused at least a couple users, though: Singer tells Eater, "We've had a few people think we were sending them to hipster cake places.")
The young entrepreneur isn't currently seeking any funding for this venture, as the business model is intended to be self-sustaining: "The rides are free to the user as the rides are paid for by the restaurant as we drive traffic to it," he explains. "Cake pays the Uber and drives the customer and the restaurant treats Cake as a paid customer acquisition channel and pays a per head fee."
For now, Singer's curating the restaurant selections himself via OpenTable with the help of a few friends, but says he's looked ahead to automating the entire process if growth necessitates it; while Cake.af doesn't have an official partnership with either Uber or OpenTable, Singer says he's in discussions with the former "for deeper integration."
Singer is currently taking a year off from high school to focus on working full-time; he's also behind a social app called Bond.sh, among other projects.