Tap on Drinks

It all started with a beer—one that I ordered and paid for at The Beat coffeehouse using an iPhone app. The waiter received my order through his iPad, and the beer was promptly delivered to me upstairs at a desk in the downtown tech library, /usr/lib. From order to delivery, it took five minutes. There were no lines to deal with, no exchange of physical currency (paper or plastic), and since the app saved my payment details I could easily order another round with the tap of a finger.

The app that made all of this possible? It’s called Counterless, and it’s one of the breakout products springing from the rapidly growing Vegas startup scene. It took one experience with the app to conclude that the future of food and beverage establishments is a little purple icon on my iPhone screen.

For Counterless CEO Chris Shepherd, 23, it all started with a girl. “I was at Insert Coin(s) talking to a girl, and I went to get drinks at the bar. It took me 15 minutes to get a drink and by the time I came back I couldn’t find her. I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’” That better way came to fruition at November’s Startup Weekend event at El Cortez, where developers are challenged to build a Web or mobile app in just 54 hours.

The demo was a bit shaky, but Shepherd and his team have been constantly updating the app, working toward a solid 1.0 release. In the meantime, he hopes to use local food trucks to bring the Counterless experience to more people. “The ultimate launch will be at Vegas StrEATS,” Shepherd says. “We’re shooting for either this month or next month.”

From there the potential for Counterless is limitless. The future I experienced at /usr/lib fits right in line with Shepherd’s vision: “One day, like people say they take Visa, they take MasterCard, it would be really cool if they say: ‘We take Counterless.’”