As a player, Jonathan Vilma has won a national championship with "The U," the notoriously cool football program at Miami University. He also won a Superbowl that completed one of the best sports stories of the last decade, the comeback of New Orleans. Now, he's trying to tackle his latest objective: a venture that he hopes will enable him to cop even more bling.
The Saints linebacker has invested in a new mobile start-up called BarEye, an app that allows users to order drinks from their Androids and iPhones instead of having to wait in lines.
BarEye is another startup, like Yopima backed by T.I., that is gaining publicity with the help of figures who are already used to the limelight. Despite that fact, however, Vilma says that the app can succeed on its own merit and speaks for itself.
"I feel like this product is so good, if we do it right and have the right infrastructure in place," Vilma told USA Today, "it doesn't need star power or celebrity power."
Over the past year, BarEye was being tested in Tallahasse, where it was downloaded 10,000 times, and now plans to launch in U.S.'s biggest cities, like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Austin, and Miami, where Vilma owns restaurants.
The app aims at enabling users to buy drinks without the hassle of pulling out cards or having to have a bartender slap dollar bills on a wet surface after making change. While CEO Andrew Bennett says business owners have an incentive to increase how pleasant of a social experience going to their bars is.
"Bars recognize the ever-growing need to embrace varied social networks as a means to increase their audience, engage their consumers and stay relevant," Bennett told USA Today.
Whether or not the app becomes a hit with bar goers and customers really see it as a necessity can only be determined with time, and making BarEye will indeed be a cutthroat business. But it's a task that Vilma says his NFL experience, in small ways, has prepared him for.
"The NFL is very structured (and) personally I like it that way. It's all about performance — you either perform or you don't," Vilma said. "In football you get fired or cut. In (business) you lose your money. Clearly I'm not trying to lose money."
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