- Matthew Cherchio
There’s a new startup that promises to deliver craft booze to your doorstep when you send a text message.
Drinkeasy, an SMS-based startup, says it can learn your tastes and help you discover and eventually buy craft liquor. Think of it like a text-message based liquor store.
Prior to founding Drinkeasy, Harry Raymond and his cofounder Nick Manning founded Swig, a social network for bartenders and drink enthusiasts that helps track all the craft beer, wines and cocktails you try.
“We kept getting texts from our friends, texting us from wine stores and restaurants, asking for recommendations,” Harry Raymond, Drinkeasy’s founder, told Business Insider. He and Manning would text back with links so their friends had a way to buy new liquor, and eventually the two decided to turn that into a business.
Here’s how Drinkeasy works: you text “DRINK LOCAL” to 646-681-4442, and one of Drinkeasy’s 10 human experts – sort of like sommeliers who specialize in liquor – ask you what you like to drink, and text you weekly with recommendations for specific craft whiskey, gin, rum or tequila from micro-distilleries across the country.
For users, the service is free – if you want to buy something, you respond to your drink expert’s text with a “HELL YES,” and you’re shown the cost and specific details about the liquor. Your drink expert sends you a link to a secure website where you can input your credit card information and delivery address and check out, if you’re interested.
You get your liquor delivered to your doorstep in 2 to 4 business days – unlike a service like Drizly, Drinkeasy is not on-demand. It’s also not stocked with tons of popular liquors; the point of the service is to introduce you to craft distilleries you may not have known about before, and to get you to try and buy booze you probably can’t find in your neighborhood liquor store.
“Invisible apps” are the new thing
The text-a-phone-number-to-get-something market is exploding. Stefan’s Head, launched out of the Techstars NYC incubator, sends you limited-edition clothing discounts. An app featured on Product Hunt let people text a phone number to get in touch with a Stanford student on demand. Another app called Magic lets you send a simple text to get anything you want delivered to you.
- Matthew Cherchio
Though it’s a sort of e-commerce company and not an on-demand delivery service like Magic – a Y Combinator alum that promises to deliver you anything you want (as long as what you want isn’t illegal) – Drinkeasy has the same premise of operating within a text messaging layer without requiring an actual app.
There’s been such a surge in these startups operating without a traditional website interface that there’s even a name for them: invisible apps. Magic specifically gained traction with investors quickly: just after it graduated from Y Combinator’s accelerator program, it was reported that Magic was raising $12 million from Sequoia Capital at a $40 million valuation.
Currently, Drinkeasy ships to 35 states (a number that’s contingent upon each state’s regulations for shipping alcohol). The service plans to expand to wine and craft beer in the coming months.
When asked about the difficulties of scaling a business that relies on human experts to power its service, Raymond told Business Insider he wasn’t worried. “Scaling is a good problem to have,” he says.
Drinkeasy works closely with local liquor stores who accept and fulfill orders on the company’s behalf. “We’re exploring ways to make money by working with the country’s best liquor stores to generate sales,” Raymond told Business Insider.
Drinkeasy is live, but it has a wait-list while it’s onboarding more drink experts – if you text “Insider” to 646-681-4442, you can try it out now.