April 1, 2013
Toast, by Jeziel Jones, Lakshman Mody, Ivan Mathy, and Jeff Olsen, was invented as a way to purchase membership for a specific bar or become a member at a group of bars under the same owner’s banner. Put a different way, Toast is a membership service for the bar and nightlife industry that will allow customers to save money at bars they already visit and to discover new bars around them.
“Over the years we have noticed a few flaws in the industry,” Olsen explains. “One, drinks are overpriced. Two, it is difficult to find new bars that you actually want to go to.”
However, there are more problems that extend further. Beyond helping bar-goers, Toast offers a solution to help small bars, aka small businesses, in this tough economy. It fosters healthy growth rates in profit and clientele by linking bars to new patrons, adds consumer incentives to help maintain regular customer levels throughout the week, and provides a way to help small bars avoid being crushed under the boot heel of a giant nightclub, big bar, or restaurant chain.
“We want to facilitate the process of discovering new bars and incentivize customers to actually go once we suggest them,” says Olsen. “Users who value savings can purchase a membership for a specific bar to receive discounted drink prices, while users who value discovery have the option to try out other bars within the owner’s network.”
The Toast team realized that providing incentives to the patron would help make their app popular, but providing an incentive for bars will also help make their app successful. “Bars get a lot out of it, too. By having their patrons pay upfront, Toast offsets a lot of variability that comes from slow nights while also enticing new clientele. Toast is, in a way, free insurance and advertisement for bars on our platform.” The user saves money and the bar owner retains the customer: a perfect circle.
Toast really has no viable competitors, which bodes well for the future. Poggled, which offers drink deals, primarily operates only an event calendar these days. Toast has 24/7 offers at their participating partners for paid members. Coaster only offers drink ordering, which is but one part of what makes Toast so great. Untappd offers bar discovery, but it is a passive service and focuses primarily on beer. Toast encompasses all alcohol and aims to capture the entire bar experience in an energetic way. Virtually every facet of the experience is handled digitally through Toast: viewing specific membership options, getting drink discounts, placing drink orders, paying tabs, and sharing experiences via integrated social media pages.
Toast has eleven bars already partnered, and many others are lining up to get on board. The team wants to take it slow to make sure that Toast is picture-perfect before releasing it on a larger scale. “We definitely aspire to make Toast a national product someday,” says Olsen, smiling. And there is no doubt in my mind that Toast will succeed when that day comes.
Toast is a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Chicago mixer – join us!
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