What Alex Bäcker and QLess are doing to bring an end to one of humanity’s most frustrating problems

Alex Bäcker had reached his limit with waiting in line and his impatience was about to spawn a revolutionary business concept that has the potential to change the world. The only question is, why did it take him so long to make a go at building a business around this universal human problem?

“I had come up with the basic idea behind FASTPASS years before Disney,” says Bäcker. “But at the time, I was a student, so I didn’t really do anything about it. I had not been actively thinking about it. But then the idea just struck me again while I was waiting in line, so I acted on it. I immediately filed for patent protection and started a company shortly thereafter.”

QLess was founded in February 2007 with a very simple mission: Eliminate waiting in line.

 

Change can be hard

It sounds like an idea without a down side. QLess uses mobile technology to allow a company’s customers to enter a queue and select a time to receive service rather than wait in line.

But Bäcker did face some resistance in getting his company off the ground.

“Convincing customers to change a paradigm like standing in line, a paradigm that is thousands of years old, that’s a challenge,” says Bäcker, the founder and CEO at QLess. “Some merchants see lines as a measure of their success. It’s only over time that you realize how much more success you’ll have and how much happier your customers are when you respect their time and free them from standing in line.”