This one’s on me


DoDrinksSharing an adult beverage with friends should be as simple as sending a direct message on Twitter or pinging a friend on Facebook — even if you’re not there to enjoy it with them.

Thus the philosophy of emerging Minnesota startup DoDrinks, which is creating a social mobile app for person to person gifting, alongside a B2B web platform for restaurants and bars to send drinks to their favorite customers.

BreAnna Fisher, co-founder and CEO of DoDrinks, says the idea spawned after numerous occasions where she wanted to buy a round of happy hour drinks for friends or colleagues but couldn’t make it out to be there with them.

“After an intern rocked out an amazing proposal for me, I went and bought him a drink and said, you know, I’ve really got to do this.”

When she began approaching bar and restaurant owners about her product, she found them to be receptive supporters of the P2P idea, but they also expressed an interest in offering free drinks to their best consumers as a promotional tool.

As a result, DoDrinks recently ran a private pilot with The Liffey in St.Paul, which proved to be a worthwhile experiment for both the establishment and the startup Fisher explained.

Fisher refers to her company as a part of the “post-Groupon era,” saying it’s not about offering discounts or cheapening brands, it’s about embracing the spirit of sharing.

The consumer app, to be released this fall, will enable you to send credits to friends from your mobile device for particular bars, restaurants and even coffee shops, effectively allowing you to say “This one’s on me,” even if you can’t make it out.

The interface is built on simplicity: users can pick a friend from their social networks or contact list, purchase gifts in increments of $5 and then suggest a location to use them (although these gifts can be redeemed at any participating merchant).

When a gift is sent, the recipient has the option to forego paper and simply display their email at the bar. In fact, it’s not an option. “You cannot print. Not ever, not ever. Everything is done on your mobile phone,” Fisher says emphatically.

Of course, since variety will dictate the efficacy of the offering and the revenue model calls for establishments to pay a fee per transaction, building out that roster of participating merchants is one of the key hurdles here. The process is one that sets DoDrinks apart from competitors such as bartab.

Whereas others have taken a bottom-up approach to identifying partners, going into individual restaurants, DoDrinks has taken a top-down approach, seeking out high-level franchise partners. They have already begun collaborating with Heineken and US Foods, leading to numerous opportunities.

DoDrinks is currently in its final seed-raising stage, which they hope to complete this fall before launching the forthcoming consumer app. Until then, the focus will be on scalability, expanding the partner network and continually adapting to the needs and wants of the marketplace.

“Understanding our consumers and how we actually drive value to them has been the biggest learning lesson, hands down,” says Fisher.