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Line Genie offers club-goers a way to skip the line

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 2, 2012 08:11 AM

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If you're in the age bracket where you often find yourself standing in line outside a club or bar on Saturday night, a new start-up wants to help you get past the doorman faster. Line Genie asks you to commit to spending at least $50 at the venue — you're essentially pre-paying for a gift card through their website — and in exchange, the venue waives the cover charge and lets you bypass the line. Right now, Line Genie is in test mode at Ned Devine's and The Harp, both in downtown Boston.

Founders John Clifford and Trevor Schwartz met in a pretty unusual place: while working on the factory floor at Raytheon, building sub-assemblies for Patriot missile radar systems. Clifford went on to earn an MBA at Boston College, and Schwartz is currently pursuing a degree in MIT's Leaders for Global Operations program.

In the company's test phase, they've been limiting sales to 20 passes at each venue. At $50, a pass gets two people into the venue without paying the cover or waiting in line, and also includes $50 in food and beverage credit. Passes can be purchased online as late as 9 PM on the night when you plan to use them, or bought a few days in advance. Schwartz says that even on nights when you arrive to find that there's no line, the pass can be a good deal, since it saves you the club's cover charge.

Schwartz says that venues start off with a free trial of the service, and then at some point start cutting Line Genie in on 10 percent of the pass revenues. "This is a way for them to know that they're going to get at least a certain level of spending from people who come in the door," Schwartz says. Already, the company has sold about 700 passes — many to groups of people (think bachelor and bachelorette parties) going out together.

Schwartz says the company is in discussions with a number of additional venues.

(The Daily Free Press at Boston University profiled the company recently, and found that college students seem to like the idea.)

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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