Editors' pick: Originally published July 8.
The next time you're struggling to get into an exclusive restaurant, the type of establishment that requires some combination of months of advance notice, the right connections or a famous name in order to obtain a table, keep one word in mind: Velocity.
Haven't heard of it yet?
Start taking notes.
Launched in July 2015, Velocity is a free app that promises to secure entree into a city's hottest or most noteworthy restaurants with just a push of a button.
"There are so many people out there who travel to multiple cities each month," said Co-founder and Co-CEO, Zia Yusuf. "And life is too short to spend time trawling through thousands of restaurant listings and reviewing websites to find the best restaurants. We thought, 'Why don't we have insiders in each city curate the best restaurants.'"
Yusuf left behind a cushy executive level job at Goldman Sachs to pursue that idea, and one year later, more than 1,100 restaurants around the globe have agreed to be listed on the app -- a number that is steadily growing.
Velocity includes everything from Michelin star classics to neighborhood gems, but the common thread is that all of the listings are among a city's most extraordinary restaurants.
Take New York City's Ippudo, for example. An acclaimed restaurant, it has never accepted reservations. But now, it offers bookings exclusively through Velocity.
"Ippudo is an institution," says Yusuf. "The queue is one to two hours long most of the time. Now they do reservations exclusively through our platform. For us, it's not about simply growing the number of restaurants. That number could be a lot higher. But I would sooner onboard one amazing restaurant then a dozen average restaurants."
For those growing giddy with excitement about the dining possibilities being made available through Velocity, a moment of pause.
The caveat for the time being, is that Velocity is only operating in a handful of cities. The current roster includes New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and London.
That might appear to be an all too short list, but Yusuf and Velocity Co-Founder Alex MacDonald, have grand plans for expansion.
In the coming year they intend to launch Velocity into Toronto, Montreal, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Mykonos.
If that seems like an unusual choice for the initial rollout of an app, then you're clearly not part of the international jet-set the app is squarely aimed at. It really all has to do with the target user.
"The kind of customer on the platform is the international taste-maker," explains Yusuf. "It's really about connecting the most influential customers with the best restaurant experiences and importantly, doing that globally...For Mykonos, so many of my friends will ask me, 'Where are the good places to go?' We don't want to have everyplace in Mykonos. That is far less valuable then having the 12 places that really matter, whether it's dining or nightlife."
As for how Yusuf was able to to secure such in-demand reservations and tables, he makes it sound as if the restaurants were eager to participate. Yusuf points out that when approached with the pitch about his new app being a curated list of the hottest restaurants in a given city, there were few restaurants that did not want to be part of it.
The practical logistics of the app's functioning for the user are far more basic.
When a user is conducting a search for a restaurant on Velocity, the app only shows listings with availability that fit the time, date and party size the user requires.
Additional features include being able to pay the restaurant bill through the app and when dining with friends, being able to split the tab using Velocity.
The bottom line for Yusuf, in addition to being able to provide entrance into an exclusive group of restaurants, is the idea that time has really become the most important luxury and commodity for Velocity's users.
"I wanted to build something that no one else on planet is delivering, solely focused on the international customer who is time poor and who wants the richest experiences," Yusuf explains. "Core to our DNA and our value proposition is the value of your time. We live an era of such abundance. There are so many things available to us at any given moment, except time. We are the most poverty stricken generation when it comes to time. We built Velocity to help people save time."
The effort appears to be going quite well. Although he did not want to release specific numbers, Yusuf says Velocity already has hundreds of thousands of customers representing multiple continents.
And in 2015, the company closed an impressive $16 million Series A funding round. Velocity also recently acquired Cover, a New York-based payments startup, for an undisclosed amount.
Some of the restaurants already listed on Velocity, meanwhile, include these New York City hot-spots: Bowery Meat Company, Barbuto, Blue Hill, Cosme and Takashi.
In Miami, such illustrious establishments as Hakkasan, Casa Tua, Fooq's and Coya - Brickell have all signed on. The Los Angeles line-up includes Ysabel, Roku Sunset and Boa.
And what restaurant app would be complete without listings in a foodie city like San Francisco? Important names to remember there are Petit Crenn and also Aster.
There are currently more than 90 Michelin star restaurants listed on Velocity.
The people who develop these go-to lists for each city are also a special group. Yusuf describes his team of curators as the kind of people you'd want to know or be put in touch with, when first landing in a destination. They are the people who have their fingers on the pulse of what is great in the city where they live. And when Yusuf says this, he makes sure to clarify.
"These are not people who will simply tell you about a Top 10 list of what's hot in LA that's six months out of date," he says. "They are all individuals who I would wholeheartedly recommend going and hanging out with when you are visiting any of these cities. Think of us as your best friend who is the know in each of these cities."