Mobile payments are becoming more and more popular especially in places where using your mobile phone over a traditional payment method come in handy. One of those places is the bar, the pub or the tavern.
We’ve all had those nights where we plan on having a great time so we leave our credit card and/or our drivers license at the bar and run a tab all night. There are so many risk factors in doing this but we never really take those into consideration.
It’s so easy to sneak a drink on to someone else’s tab. I’ve had it happen to me a bunch of times, and while you may not admit it freely, its probably happened to you. Some cheapskate here’s you tell the bartender what tab to put the drink on and then uses your tab the next time around.
The other big risk factor is forgetting to close out your tab, losing your credit card or losing your drivers license. Now all of those are risky but you’ll have to agree that losing your drivers license is probably the most inconvenient. You can usually call the credit card issuer, report the card lost and have another one sent to you very quickly. Losing your license means digging up documents you haven’t seen in five years, standing in line at the DMV and praying that an entire day isn’t lost in that line.
Most of these things, are factors behind the new Oklahoma startup DrinkEasy. As the name implies, the guys behind DrinkEasy want you to have an easy, laid back time whether your drinking with colleagues at work or having a throw down party after a football game.
DrinkEasy allows you to setup and pay for a tab on your smartphone. This immediately eliminates the risk of leaving your card and license behind. Also, with DrinkEasy no one can add to your tab, except for you.
We got a chance to catch up with Kirk Kaupke one of the founders of DrinkEasy for this quick interview after the break
So tell us briefly, what is DrinkEasy?
DrinkEasy is an app that allows bar customers to order and pay for drinks with a smartphone. After an order is placed with DrinkEasy, customers are notified through the app when their drink order is ready to be picked up at the bar. When customers are ready to leave a bar they can simply close their tab with the app, avoiding the hassle of flagging down a bartender, running a credit card, and signing a receipt. DrinkEasy enables customers to better enjoy their bar experience by spending more time interacting with friends rather than waiting in line, and enables bars to significantly reduce time spent on payment processing, allowing bartenders to focus on taking more drink orders and increasing the bar’s productivity.
Kirk Kaupke – I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in biochemistry and am currently pursuing my doctorate of optometry at the Arizona College of Optometry in Glendale, AZ. My current academic studies are not what you would expect to see from most entrepreneurs, but I have had a passion for business throughout my whole life. I have grown up in business and seen first hand both the successes and pitfalls of small businesses, with my family being involved in an assortment of companies from land development, to oil and natural gas production, to fishing rod manufacturing. I have been thinking of business ideas and products for as long as I can remember, but until now have not had the resources or the network of people to bring those ideas to fruition.
Matt Tilly – I met Matt at Oklahoma State University, where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. He then went onto graduate from the University of Oklahoma School of Law. He worked for a private practice for a couple of years, before recently taking a job with a natural gas company in Oklahoma City, OK. Matt was the first person I went to with the idea for what is now DrinkEasy. He saw the potential and immediately began doing legal research to make sure the idea was feasible.
Jesse Davis and Isaac Swiderski – They are the owners of Powerhouse Creative in Hollywood, CA. I know Jesse from high school in Saint Louis, Mo. We have kept in touch over the years, once Matt and I decided we were ready to progress to the stage I contacted Jesse to see if he would be interested in helping with software development. Once Powerhouse Creative understood our product, they were immediately on board and the best part is that they arent just graphic designers but businessmen too.
We dont get caught up in roles and everyone works together to develop new ideas and revise old ones. This is an incredible team that works together remarkably well.
Where did the idea for the DrinkEasy app come from?
I was driving back to Phoenix from a family reunion in Taos, NM last August, meanwhile my fraternity from undergrad was having initiation that same day back in OK. I really wanted to be there to support them, but since I could not be there physically I started thinking about how great it would be if I could send them celebratory shots and they would be able to pick those shots up at a local bar. This was the DrinkEasy idea in its most primitive form. I am always bouncing ideas off of friends, but most of the time they get shot down or the flaws are quickly realized, and this idea was no different. The first person I talked to about this idea (this is all during the car ride to Phoenix) indulged me for a little while but ultimately tried to convince me that the idea was not realistic or legally feasible. After thinking about the idea for another 30 minutes or so and thinking of ways to revise the original idea, I started talking with another person who did not just indulge me because he liked the idea, but because he saw what it could (and has) turned into. The second person was Matt, and this was just the beginning of many hours of the most fun we have ever experienced over the past 9 months. Shortly after we completed initial research, we brought Jesse and Isaac onto the team in January.
Where are you based?
We are an Oklahoma limited liability company (which is where Matt lives), with product development based out of Los Angeles, CA. I (Kirk) live in Phoenix and Jesse and Isaac are in Los Angeles. Obviously, in any other era it would not be possible to create and grow a business (much less a startup) where the founders are separated by 1,200 miles. We have weekly phone conferences and Skype sessions to insure that everyone remains on the same page. There is a sense of trust within this team, that is important with any startup, and I believe that is the single biggest reason for our success thus far.
What problem does DrinkEasy solve?
DrinkEasy allows the customer to avoid waiting in lines at busy bars and nightclubs, and spending more time with friends. DrinkEasy also will allow the customer to keep an eye on their open tabs, as well as track their past tabs. It also provides a sense of security because the customer no longer has to surrender their credit card to a bartender in order to open a tab. In addition, DrinkEasy allows the customer to close out their tab without the hassle of flagging down a bartender. For the bars, DrinkEasy will save time on payment processing and allow bartenders to focus more on the customers. We will also be able to provide targeted marketing to the bars and allow them to offer drink specials to DrinkEasy customers.
There are other apps in the space right now that even allow tabs at restaurants like TabbedOut, is DrinkEasy exclusive to bars?
Tabbedout does allow tabs at both restaurants and bars, but they do not allow the customers to actually order food or drinks through their phone.DrinkEasy will feature a number of features that apps like tabbedout don’t, such as the ability to view and browse a bar’s menu and drink specials, ordering drinks for friends at different bars, and seeing where your friends have open tabs, among others. With tabbedout you still have the problem of flagging down the waitress or bartender to order your drink. We will be focusing primarily on bars and nightclubs in the beginning, but definitely see room for expansion into other industries as we grow.
What’s your secret sauce?
In addition to the convenience of shorter wait times for the customers and increased efficiency for the bars, we are really excited about our “Send A Drink” option as well as our “Friends” feature. With “Send A Drink”, you will have the ability to send your friend celebratory shots, or just a cold brew, from anywhere in the country and they will be able to redeem it at any DrinkEasy bar. With “Friends”, you will be able to see where all your friends currently have open bar tabs. That way you do not have to spend all your time texting your friends to see where they are on a Friday night. This is probably the feature I am most excited about…
Briefly walk us through how a customer would use DrinkEasy
A customer walks into a bar and sees a huge line. Instead of leaving, they notice the bar is a DrinkEasy bar and proceed to download the app. The customer is able to view all the beers and liquors the bar has to offer, as well as special offers only available to DrinkEasy customers. The customer chooses their drink of choice and places their order. They will have the option of closing their tab or keeping it open. Once they have placed their order they will wait until they receive at notification from the bar that their drink is waiting. The customer will go to the dedicated DrinkEasy line, flash their confirmation number to the bartender, and receive their drink.
What’s next for DrinkEasy?
We will be doing a soft launch in Los Angeles this June, and will roll out the product in Oklahoma City and Phoenix in July.
Checkout DrinkEasy here
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