Bangaloreans like to be in good spirits and while getting a reservation at the restaurant of their choice can be simple, what is difficult to foretell is whether their signature drink will be available at the bar. After decade-long experience in the liquor business, came to the understanding that its biggest challenge is getting through to the consumer, who has a firm footing in the production and sale of premium liquor with his first venture, Sipping Spirits. The industry’s over-reliance on demographics and ignorance of technology may explain away some of the gaps in this trade.
However, the Chennai-based entrepreneur has stirred up a unique solution to this problem. Christened ‘HipBar’, his second venture may be at an infancy stage today, but the services it offers promises to shake up an industry that is ripe for disruption. The venture opened about a month ago, it enables people to reserve bottles of their favourite liquor online through an app, which can then be redeemed – in serving sizes or in full – at partner restaurants, bars, craft brew pubs as well as retail stores that stock the brand.
So a user who has booked a bottle of whiskey ‘on the cloud’ will pay for the portion consumed using the app, which will immediately update the volume left for later consumption. As of now, the corresponding prices of these portions are jointly decided by us with the outlet based on the market value of the liquor, but we will soon give restaurant managers access to a digital portal where this can be managed independently by them.
The RBI-certified mobile wallet had recorded over 6,000 downloads in both iOS and Android platforms within the first week itself – the number stood at over 35,000 at the time of publishing this story. The conversion rate of these numbers are also very high – more than 80% of downloads are active users of the app. We are seeing transactions to the tune of Rs 1 and a half lakh every day through the platform and this is showing significant progress. Additionally, it also integrates high-end restaurants and bars across the city and provides an extra platform for liquor companies to promote their brands. The list is comprehensive and ties together outlets spread across the city including Social, Smoke House Deli, Sotally Tober, Open Box and Watsons.
Retail outlets that sell alcohol and related products like Drops Total Spirits have also clubbed with the startup to offer more benefits to its customers through various discounts. The young IT crowd who are accustomed to using payment gateways like these have latched on to this app in a big way. The first tie-up of the retailer with any startup, the feature has now been rolled out in all Drops’ stores across Bangalore and the response has been encouraging: “Introduced about 15 days back, it is already responsible for 4-5% of the overall business, with each store coughing up an average of Rs 10,000 every day.”
“Brands have also expressed interest in partnering with us. Confidentiality clauses prohibit us from naming names, but it holds a lot of promise of scale for the company. With this, we will bring the entire industry together on one platform, thereby ensuring that anything you find on the shelves, which is worthwhile, will always be on HipBar.