Plumb Oyster Bar Owner Starting Software Company To Make It Easier To Track Receipts (and what customers want)
Heidi Knoblauch pulled out an envelope filled with a stack of receipts a few inches high.
The pile of receipts was how many transactions her downtown Troy restaurant, Plumb Oyster Bar, closed in the last week.
She has to keep that stack for 18 months to avoid chargebacks, or when a customer disputes a transaction. New York state and the IRS recommend keeping guest receipts for three years. That's thousands and thousands of little papers that, more often than not, are bound together with rubber bands and stored in a bank box.
Knoblauch wants to change that outdated process and limit the number of chargebacks. She has started a new company, Receipt HQ, to solve the problem.
Knoblauch started scanning her own receipts to keep copies in the cloud. With the little programming language she knew, Knoblauch wrote code to collect data her point-of-sale system was not tracking.
To fully develop the product, Knoblauch is working with Troy Web Consulting. A company in Menands is scanning the receipts.
Receipt HQ will supply its restaurant customers with prepaid envelopes. After each service, the restaurants will put signed credit card receipts into an envelope and send them to be scanned. Receipt HQ will upload the copies to the cloud. The program will let owners and managers search for individual receipts and get analytics on customer behavior.
Knoblauch said it will offer analytics tailored to each customer that traditional point-of-sale systems don't offer. For example, if a customer tips well over 20 percent each time, the restaurant can send them a coupon or free drink. If there's a customer who always orders vegan, the restaurant can send a newsletter to them announcing a new vegan item on the menu.
The product is currently in the beta stage, and Knoblauch said she is looking for more restaurant owners to join, especially those in Saratoga Springs.
Receipt HQ is partially funded by the National Science Foundation through the I-Corps Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lally School of Management. The company is a member of the Troy Innovation Garage and the Bull Moose Club in Albany.
Knoblauch said her background in academics influenced Receipt HQ. She left her career in academia to open the oyster bar in downtown Troy at 15 Second St. in 2016.
Knoblauch has a doctorate from Yale in history of science and medicine. She was a full-time faculty member at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson before she left to open Plumb Oyster Bar.