Start-ups make alcohol delivery one tap

The mobile revolution has enabled countless start-ups to get into the on-demand delivery business. With food and flowers leading the way, it stands to reason that booze would follow.

Below area a few start-ups that aim to deliver alcohol to your doorstep, when you want it.


Thirstie app screens
Source: Thirstie

Thirstie, a new entrant, offers users on-demand local wine and spirits delivery for no fee in most cities. Recently the company launched "The Craft," an editorial extension of their service in a bid to build a community around their alcohol-on-demand deliveries. Accessed online or in-app, Craft serves almost as a virtual shopkeeper.

It lists drink recipes, wine pairings and bartender trends, and often tapping into a community of bartenders for insight—like how to know if a beer is too "hoppy" or "malty."

"For us [the Craft launch] was really about engaging with our consumers" said CEO Devaraj Southworth. Customer engagement has increased about 70 percent since the addition of Craft, he said. The start-up has attracted $1.1 million in funding.

Thirstie is focusing on individual customers and building a community, while corporate orders are a small but growing part of the business. Orders are generally delivered within an hour.


Source: Drync

Drync let's you take a photo of a wine label, tells you all about it and whether it's in Drync's 30,000 bottle inventory—and of course, whether you'd like to order it.

It shares information like vintage year, the type of wine and what region of the world it may come from, as well as what pairs with it. You have the option of ordering bottles of certain wines if they are within their inventory. Unlike its competitors, however, it does not deliver instantly.

The company monetizes their database by providing direct-to-consumer wine deliveries. Retailers pay Drync both a monthly fee and marketing fee on each sale. (It's raised $3.1 million so far.)

While wine is still the largest part of their inventory, as of last month the company has expanded their selection to spirits as well.



Minibar, which recently acquired competitor Booze Carriage, is focused on product search and delivery. The company doesn't charge a delivery fee, but rather takes a cut of each sale from retailers. Users also have the option of ordering alcohol for a future date, rather than the standard 60 minute window.

The company is also piloting an event planner application that allows customers to tailor their orders for an event, based on criteria like length of time and number of attendees. It has raised $1.8 million so far.


Source: Drizly

If the amount of money raised is any indicator, Drizly would be considered the leader in the space, with $17.8 million in funding. The company offers alcohol delivery through a subscription model. Retailers are charged a monthly licensing fee based on location, transaction and volume.

What also sets Drizly apart is their ID verification technology, which allows drivers to scan the IDs of its consumers. The Boston-based company has worked with state alcohol regulators to ensure they are serving customers of age, by partnering with a mobile verification system that is used by over 10 law enforcement agencies.

"We have an exclusive partnership with the wine and spirits wholesalers of America, all the largest distributors are working with us," said CEO Nick Rellas. "You're going to see us partnering with many peoplevideo content streaming, sports events, and hotel partnerships" among them, he added.

For example, an ad during a football game could be an opportunity for retailers to add an e-commerce capability and offer beer for purchase. In the past the company has partnered with Miller Lite, for example, which allowed fans watching a game to order beer in less than an hour with no delivery charge.

Closing the distance between advertiser and consumer means the customer doesn't have to go through as many actions in order to purchase alcohol for their event.

Ultimately, the company's goal is to build the most expansive network of alcohol retailers.

A few other up and coming names in the space include Saucey, Klink, Swill, Drinkfly, Sqyre and BrewDrop. The smaller start-ups trying to break into the larger market are at the moment differentiated by the locations they serve. As these companies grow, consumers may see more of a focus on the verticals in which they are strongest.

Much like the wine and spirits they have on the menu, proof of concept may come with some breathing room and time.

—By CNBC's Deborah Findling.