How CoatChex (now Chexology) turned down an offer on Shark Tank and went on to become a multi-million dollar tech company.
“A college student walks into a bar and loses his coat.”
This line sounds like the beginning of an old joke, but for Founder and CEO Derek Pacqué, it was the light bulb moment that launched an international tech company based in New York City.
On a winter night, Derek, an Indiana University student, went into his neighborhood bar and somehow lost his coat. Frustrated, he approached the bar owner and asked why they didn’t offer their customers a coat check service during these frigid Indiana months. As he listened to the owner describe the operational and financial challenges of implementing such a service, a lightbulb went off in Derek’s head.
Derek returned a few weeks later, having designed a custom coat check service, addressing the owner’s needs. The owner was so impressed that he welcomed Derek to test his new concept at the entrance of his establishment.
Within months, Derek’s coat check service had expanded from one bar into numerous taprooms and nightclubs across the city. What Derek hoped would be a simple weekend gig for extra beer money had ballooned into a full-time job managing dozens of employees and handling payroll. Trying to maintain this growing enterprise, Derek had another breakthrough idea… “What if you were your claim ticket?”
Derek designed a patented software for tablets and smartphones to do just that. He called the company CoatChex. The simple-to-use application snapped a photo of the guest and paired them with their phone number, making each person the claim ticket. The system then digitally cataloged the business's inventory, while NFC tags captured checkroom demands in real-time. The software service proved to be a massive win for both businesses and their customers alike.
With nothing to lose, Derek decided to contact the producers at Shark Tank. The famous television show that gives young inventors a stage to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors seemed like the perfect platform to showcase the value of CoatChex. So, Derek filled out the online application and mentioned that he attended Indiana University, the same university that billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban attended. Sparking interest, the producers quickly set up a time for Derek to pitch CoatChex on the show!
In 2012, Derek debuted CoatChex during the fourth season of ABC's Shark Tank. During the nationally televised show, Derek came head-to-head with Mark Cuban as the two negotiated over shares in the company. Derek and his business partner would eventually turn down Mr. Cuban's gracious offer. However, the company's exposure from the show was immeasurable, launching CoatChex into markets worldwide. Each year thousands of Shark Tank fans flock to our website to say "Hello!" and share their stories about using CoatChex (now Chexology) while out on their many adventures.
Over the next few years, CoatChex attracted more investors, and our team grew. As the tech company began to gain traction in concert venues and nightclubs across the country, CoatChex introduced its innovative digital hospitality platform to new markets and larger audiences. Along with its expansion, CoatChex decided it would be best to change its name to Chexology, to better represent the growing industries the company was improving outside of the coat check world. And thus, CoatChex blossomed into Chexology.
One of the significant pain points Chexology was now tackling was the ability to reduce long lines at concerts, sporting events, and museums due to Chexology’s efficiency in processing hundreds of bailment transactions in a short period.
One such solution was our team’s custom design work for the Modern Museum of Art (MoMA) in New York City. The staff at MoMA came to Chexology seeking help to solve their visitors’ wait time dilemma, occurring every Friday morning during the museum’s Free Admission Day. Our team got to work and developed a unique dry-cleaner-style carousel for the museum that blended seamlessly with our iPad application. This allowed the museum to check hundreds of coats, purses, backpacks, and strollers expediently.
Nowadays, the mood is calm in the iconic museum lobby, and the institution is pleased with its redesigned system. Shortly after the implementation of Chexology, the museum set a new attendance record, thanks to the reduction in long lines and smoother interactions with their visitors.
“Museums are collections of some of the most beautifully-designed objects in history. Our team is humbled to have designed a coat-check system worthy of being displayed in one,” remarks Derek. “In a way, we helped the Museum of Modern Art become a bit more… modern.”
With a foothold in the digital coat check world, Chexology has expanded into other industries. Utilizing the same application, the software digitally checks luggage for bellhops, archives incoming packages for conventions, and simplifies rentals. Chexology is even in the process of modernizing the valet experience. The possibilities for future applications are endless.
Today, we owe a great deal of our success to carefully listening to people like you!
We’ve had the pleasure of tackling some colossal hospitality challenges for institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, Hilton, Nike, The US Open, ICC Sydney, Barclay’s Center, Circa Las Vegas, Quiet Events, Javits Center, Sheraton, Olympia in London, and we're just getting started.
While we may never solve the mystery behind Derek’s lost college coat, we are so grateful for his mishap. That missing coat is what brought all of us here at Chexology together. Each day, we pour our passion, life experience, and creativity into building meaningful software that enriches people’s lives all over the world. But our story is not finished!
Where will you take Chexology next?
Please visit our About page to learn more about Chexology!