A new app called PayDragon hopes to make it easier for small businesses to accept orders from users, without consumers having to wait in line to order. It combines an ultra-easy ordering system on the front end, with one-click purchasing for consumers and a workflow management interface for businesses so they can see what has been ordered and fulfill those purchases.
It works like this: Once a user has downloaded the PayDragon app, he or she can add items from a vendor’s menu simply by scanning a QR code. Which is great, except that I hate QR codes. And I’m pretty sure everyone else does as well.
That’s why it’s good that PayDragon not only has the QR capabilities, but also enables vendors to create menu listings in the app itself, and allows consumers to add and delete menu items without having to scan anything at all. Frankly, this is the more likely use case for most consumers when they go about choosing what they want to eat from their offices or other locations anyway.
Once an order has been placed, PayDragon bills you automatically, using one-click payment from a credit card you’ve entered into the app. Once it’s on file, there’s no need to re-enter credit card information or pay with cash once you arrive at the vendor’s location. Simply show up and pick up whatever you ordered.
To show off the app at South by Southwest, PayDragon partnered with eight different food truck vendors in Austin. During the promotion, users were encouraged to download the app and order with it. If they did so, they’d also receive additional goodies at no extra charge.
Some food truck vendors already have these types of apps available. Curry Up Now, my favorite Indian street-food vendor in San Francisco (hooray Tikka Masala Burritos!), has an app that lets you place an order, skip the line and go straight to the payment window. And some major food retailers — like Chipotle, for instance — let you do the same. But each has its own individual app, which isn’t entirely useful if you’re not sure what exactly you want.
And there’s no guarantee that those apps will have great workflow processes built in for the staff at the food vendors and trucks. Eric Silverstein, owner of The Peached Tortilla, one of the apps that partnered with PayDragon for its SXSW app promotion, said that the web-based backend for PayDragon was much better than the branded app his truck currently uses.
However, few small vendors have the money to invest in building new apps or updating the ones they might already have. For those without the resources, being on an app like PayDragon also has the potential to get exposure for vendors who don’t have their own apps.
All that said, PayDragon faces an uphill battle against serious competition from major players in the mobile payments space. Square is trying to simplify purchasing with its own suite of mobile applications. On the business front, it has improved its product listings and management for vendors through its Register product, while also enabling seamless payment for consumers with Card Case. And PayPal just launched new small-business and consumer apps along with the release of its PayPal Here card reader and apps that let users transact business with either a credit card, cash, check or even in-app payments.
PayDragon was born out of PaperLinks, a mobile QR code startup focused mostly on enabling ad- and marketing-campaigns for brands. But it’s extending that technology out to consumers and small businesses. The startup is backed with funds from YCombinator, SV Angel and the Start Fund, among others.
For a demo of PayDragon, check out the video below from the App.net mobile showcase: