Alum’s innovative company helps sports fans avoid lines at games

Zachary Klima graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy in 2012 and almost  instantaneously made a name for himself in the business world.

As founder and CEO of WaitTime LLC, Klima developed a phone-based app that use to figure out the approximate wait time to get to a restroom stall, concession stand or team store inside a sports stadium. He was recently named one of Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40” winners. 

The interesting part is he didn’t even graduate from Detroit Mercy’s business program. Instead, he graduated from the five-year Masters of Architecture program.

Klima said he does not regret Master of Architecture degree. Even though architecture was never a passion of his, it trained his mind to think outside the box.

That thinking helped him found WaitTime. One night in 2013, Klima grew frustrated while waiting too long for a table at a restaurant. 

“The only thing in life you can’t get back…is time,” Klima said. 

Problems are the mother of invention, and it was at that moment that Klima conceived WaitTime LLC., although restaurants are not his target market.

He received funding from Dan Gilbert’s business accelerator called Bizdom. Klima’s idea was chosen by Gilbert and his team out of about 5000 applicants, said Klima.

“I had the chance to actually pitch him (Gilbert) personally…and I was able to get into the accelerator and that was about three months after I followed the idea,” said Klima.

Klima said that he had to surround himself with the best and brightest people who had already successfully taken on a company, to get WaitTime up and running.

“I started to really do a lot of networking on my own accord to find the right people to  do this and I met a guy who is my chief operating officer,” said Klima.

He lead Klima to meet John Mars, a global leader in imaging and artificial intelligence technology.

“It’s kind of coincidental that when I met John he was literally the only person  in the world to be able to do what we accomplished at this point with our technology,” said Klima.

So how does the WaitTime technology work to get the most accurate waiting time to fans in large entertainment sports venues?

There are small cameras mounted above every concession line, every bathroom line, and every retail line, said Klima

Those cameras send a camera feed to WaitTime servers that are hosted on site, that do calculations 10 times per second to give accurate waiting times for sports fans in a venue, said Klima

The approximate waiting times are not just displayed on smartphones, but also  displayed on the venue’s big contor screens. 

“So, basically we’re able to tell you in real time across the whole entire venue, in any line, how many people are in line, at any given point in time,” said Klima.

WaitTime can also count and report data on the traffic flow analysis of people across venues in real time.

“For the first time ever in the sports industry we’re able to aggregate data on human behavior,” said Klima.

Klima said that Detroit Mercy definitely prepared him for where he is now.

“When I saw the problem in the sports industry I applied the thinking that was instilled in my mind during school to this problem, which helped me to create the first-in-the-world software platform,” he said. 

Klima believes that Detroit Mercy students can be very successful in business regardless of the program they graduate from, as long as they don’t limit their imaginations and are passionate about what they do. 

“Never stop learning,” he said. “Continually connect yourself with the right people, and take advice, and beautiful things will start to unfold.”