Category Archives: toronto

Pizza Libretto as transformative mobile business model

Pizza Libretto doesn’t take reservations. What they do do is make some of the most delicious Neopolitan style pizza in the city. Libretto finds themselves smack in the middle of the (for the moment) uber-trendy Ossington strip of hipster bars, restaurants and galleries in the west end of downtown Toronto. As a result, demand for a table on any Thursday, Friday or Saturday night vastly exceeds supply. Surely a “problem” that most restaurateurs would love to have. But, when you are hot you are hot, so how do you make the best of it when fortune favours you.

What they do is take your mobile phone number. Then they pack you and your party off to any of great many little bars/pubs next door and they tell you, “don’t worry we’ll call you when your table is ready”.

The key insight is that in this day and age, the odds of at least one person of any dinner party will have a working cell phone on them is effectively 100%. As heard on some public radio program recently that similarly one of the big restaurant trends in New York city is to go reservation-less. The one restaurant operator quoted that without reservations turnover can increase by up to 30%. That’s a huge change in the business model!

And you can see the effect at work at Pizza Libretto. On any weekend night, no available serving space goes unused for more than seconds. The restaurant keeps their queue full by filling up the bars next door (an arrangement that works well both ways).

I love this example because it shows what’s possible when a technology becomes so ubiquitous that you just switch off an old way of doing business. Using only the “phone” feature is the dumb-simplest way imaginable of leveraging the wonders of mobile technology. But in this case it’s genius.

Oftentimes the biggest impacts of a new technology occur only once we can take it for granted. This is on e reason why issues like universal access to connectivity and the accessibility of mobile is important. If simple mobile phone calls can be so transformative for an ordinary business, imagine what business model innovation may be possible in a few years if we can safely assume that just about everyone is equipped with a much more richly interactive smartphone.

ps. If you have other examples of mobile tech already changing old business models, let me know. I’d love to hear ’em.

pps. Pizza Libretto’s owners Rocco Agostino, Max Rimaldi and Daniel Clarke just opened up a new place around the corner called Enoteca featuring slow-food style Italian cooking. Enoteca does not take reservations.

photo credit: Qin

LearnHub Launches, looks great

LearnHub shot

Congrats to John, Malgosia and their highly tallented team at Savvica on the launch of their newest product LearnHub. This is the project that brought them back from the valley to build their startup in Toronto. What they’ve just launched is version 1.0. It already looks great. But know to expect even more polish and general awesomeness in iterations to come.

LearnHub is a social learning platform, where members can create lessons, guides and all sorts of learning tools around user-generated communities like photography, cooking, software development (some serious Ruby experts resident at Savvica) and other subjects. Check it out!

Upcoming Toronto tech/media events

November 20th – CaseCampToronto6 CaseCamp is back at the century room with presentations from: The Globe and Mail Online, Vortex Mobile,, and Will super-star Pate of CommandN and ConceptShare

November 27-28 NextMedia Monetizing Digital Media – has what looks like an awesome and jam-packed agenda. I’ll be attending vicariously through Mark Kuznicki and hoping for some live swarm coverage [skype link].

December 3rd – DemoCampToronto16 – Back at the Board of Trade with 5 demos and 5 ignite presentations

December 3rd – Mobile Monday – 110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 700 – I don’t think I’ve been more frustrated with an event that I’d really like to attend, but have never been to. Maybe it’s the blog that just posts in the stilted language of repurposed press releases and why, why does this event keep conflicting with DemoCamp? I guess it wouldn’t be mobile Monday if it was on a Tuesday.

December 6th – StartupCamp Voting closes today on the presenters, expect an announcement soon.

January 17 – 18, Game ON Finance – presented by Interactive Ontario, 1 King west Toronto, A one day summit for financiers and entrepreneurs in the emerging indie game marketplace.

February 6-8 – The best tech conference of the year Lift08 in Geneva I hoping to raise a big Cannuck contingent again this time. Early bird registration prices until December 15.

whew. I need a nap already.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention some more good ones:

November 21 – LiveCamp – All about the WindowsLive development platform. WindowsLive as you know are a whole raft of Microsoft’s online services which don’t really have anything to do with Windows. Word is, WindowsLive is getting better all the time.

November 30 to December 2 – Facebook Weekend BETA – A whole weekend of Facebook/Startup goodness.

UPDATE: I’m going to be at MobileMonday