The three of us met in 2013 at an early stage startup and became fast friends. We all left to work at different places but kept coming back to each other with potential ideas to work on together. Fast forward to 2019— we had something. The idea was to use QR codes in retail stores so customers could self-checkout on their mobile devices, alleviating the need for sales-floor interactions. In the fall of 2019, we launched a pilot in London, flew out to make sure everything went smoothly, and it did! Wes joined shortly thereafter as our fourth partner and we were off to the races. Orders trickled in, and we were hard at work booking and launching more pilots.
As 2020 rolled around, we were gearing up for more stores. It had been tough but we started to see some light. Then COVID happened; any chance we had to book more pilots disappeared as shutdowns shuttered stores and opportunities for in-store retail.
Around this time, a former colleague approached us about using the QR code tech for his soon-to-be-launching tequila brand. As we dug into the project, the conversation quickly evolved into providing e-commerce solutions to growing alcohol suppliers like them. There were obvious legal and logistical issues, but the tech we previously had built could be repurposed with some work to meet this need. The only thing we needed to do this time was convince liquor stores. While scoping out the work, we found more founders of spirits brands who had common problems:
1. No data on customers, so no consistent way to develop brand equity.
2. Hard to navigate legal compliances from state-to-state.
3. Gaining nationwide distribution is difficult, so growth was piecemeal and often based on relationships.
4. Difficult to compete against other mega brands in-store or on marketplaces. (How do you tell your brand’s story on a shelf or on a website next to dozens of other brands?)
We knew then what we were envisioning was something the alcohol beverage industry desperately needed, and a solution for craft brands to accelerate growth. So we got to work and launched our beta in fall 2020. Successfully powering a few brands through the business of the holiday season, we were also able to grow our retail network to both coasts.
As of early 2021, things are only looking up. More brands are launching, more retailers have signed up, and customers are getting bottles faster than before. Our roadmap is packed as we add new functionality, new integrations, new partners and more tools for brands and retailers. Our goal—to help craft brands and retailers accelerate growth in an increasingly competitive space —is being met and changing the alcohol industry for the better.
If you're a brand that wants a best in class e-commerce experience and wants to invest in being tech-forward, reach out to us at email@example.com. And if you're a retailer that wants a new revenue channel and wants to reach customers beyond your four walls, join our network by sending an email to Josh as well!