Tray Bien: From classroom to restaurant

Prototyping one of our trays on the ShopBot, a computer aided router.

Prototyping one of our trays on the ShopBot, a computer aided router.

step 1

THE ENGINEERING COURSE

Tray Bien's story began in a project-design course at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. After interviewing waitstaff at local restaurants, co-founders and students Krystyna and Shinri concluded that the standard serving tray had a serious problemtall, heavy glasses often toppled off the tray and broke or spilled on guests.

It was time for a little improvement. Week after week, the team brought a new prototype to restaurants for user testing. Every round of feedback meant a new-and-improved iteration, and some twenty tweaks later the team arrived at their solution: the now patent-pending Tray Bien tray.

At the Adams-Burch annual trade show at the Washington Redskins Stadium in Washington DC.

At the Adams-Burch annual trade show at the Washington Redskins Stadium in Washington DC.

step 2

Leaving the classroom

After receiving overwhelming positive feedback from their users and winning the Phillip R. Jackson Engineering Sciences Prize, the team took their project to the next level. Together, they formed Tray Bien LLC, and their team connected with incredible mentors to guide them through the start-up and patent protection process.

step 3

Testing the waters

To make sure everyone else was as excited about Tray Bien as they were, Shinri and Krystyna attended a foodservice supply trade show, where they took their first string of pre-orders. Customers who had been in the foodservice industry for decades claimed they wished they'd come up with the idea themselves. They strongly encouraged the team to take the next step. So Krystyna and Shinri did.

step 4

Entering the market

After our presentation in the final round at the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest.

After our presentation in the final round at the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest.

Before the dream could become a reality, though, the college students needed some start-up capital. Together, they entered the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest, a competition of 100+ other start-ups founded by Dartmouth alumni, Tuck Business school MBAs, and even faculty. There, they took both first place and the people's choice award, winning the funding they needed to make their first professional manufacturing run and partner with a foodservice supply distributor. 

step 5

always improving

Since going into production, Tray Bien has continued to improve, taking customer feedback and turning it into a better tray. Customers recently requested a tray with a non-slip surface, and Tray Bien delivered, funding the second version of their tray with a 200% funded Kickstarter crowd-source funding campaign. They are now in full production of the new Tray Bien: Black (non-slip) tray.

See what Tray Bien is up to now on their Facebook Page.