What started as an idea to find the best independent coffee shops around town has morphed to meet the market, and is reaping rewards.
Minnesota Tech entrepreneur Ryan Furness initially launched the NearestYou in 2015, but learned quickly that there was more demand — and money — by focusing on all more lucrative craft beverages…namely, the alcoholic ones.
“Every brewery and distillery gets asked all the time by customers where they can find products near their home or work, Furness said. “It’s a daily question,” he follows up with, and it’s exactly what NearestYou wants to answer.
“For example, whenever you talk to people about craft beer, it elicits a lot of strong feelings, right?! The on/off sale dynamic is a hard one for distilleries and breweries to figure out from a marketing point of view and so they use us to sell more outside their four walls.”
On the website, brands are listed by categories: beer, wine, spirits, tea and other such non-alcoholic consumables. Each has a short profile page with a photo and description and venues that sell the brand’s products appear beneath that, while the results can be refined based on an address, city or zip code.
Brands pay a monthly fee, which ranges from $10 to $100 and corresponds to the number of locations where the product is sold.
The company has about 30 customers who pay to have products tracked on NearestYou, Furness said, adding that the next step in growing his client base will be to go from “the one to many.”
Rather than continuing to meet with each potential new customer one on one, Furness wants to instead pitch to the heads of guilds, which are large trade organizations, for distillers, brewers or food vendors. That way, he said, guild leaders can disseminate information to the groups’ members, possibly landing many new customers for NearestYou through much fewer interactions.
“It’s that millennial who loves local, who loves bean-to-bar chocolate, craft beer,” Furness said, alluding to their plan to including more local food names. “That’s our demographic.”