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How A Booze Marketplace Was Inspired By Food Delivery

Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal founded Minibar Delivery in 2014.

Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal met in business school, but it wasn’t until after graduation that the two consepctualized a buzzworthy idea – over takeout food.

In 2014, the two friends founded Minibar Delivery, an online service that allows thirsty consumers to purchase wine, beer, liquor and mixers, and have them delivered on-demand.

While the brand’s website is popular, the app actually launched before the site was live, and represents roughly 65 percent of sales.

Minibar is available in 40 markets and the two founders, Andrews, 37 and Crystal, 36, currently reside in one of them: New York City. Fittingly, we asked them to pair their favorite takeout meals with beverages.

Read on for their bite and sip recommendations, and our Q&A about how these two Wharton women are changing operations within the alcohol industry.

Lindsay Andrews recommends:

- Red Farm: Wide rice noodles with BBQ’d Roast Duck and dumplings; paired with a reliable sauvignon blanc

- Mole: Guacamole and Chicken Enchiladas with green sauce; paired with wine or beer

- Keste: Capricciosa Pizza; paired with pinot noir

- Babu Ji: Unauthentic Butter Chicken and paired with Grüner Veltliner

- Soho Sushi: Lots of rolls, spicy tuna, salmon, and edamame; paired with a dry sake

Lara Crystal recommends:

- Mole: Chicken Fajitas; paired with a simple margarita made with a classic tequila

- Saigon Market: Basil Chicken; paired with a riesling.

- Morandi: Tagliatelle alla Bolognese; paired with a classic Italian montepulciano

- Westville: Salmon Plate with Two Market Sides; paired with Oyster Bay sauvignon vlanc

- Dirty Bird: Chopped Chicken Salad; paired with a French chardonnay

What are five important aspects that make food, and beverage, delivery successful? 

LA:

- A shoppable and easy to use app: we work extremely hard on this and we have a great team of engineers, product, UX/UI and marketing to help make this possible

- A great selection: Selection and pricing comes down to having great retail partners on the platform as they decide what to sell

- Fair prices: We rely on our great partners to set pricing fairly

- Reliable delivery: Our operations team tracks these metrics closely to make sure our stores are delivering on time and can handle the volume we are sending them

- A great customer service team that is friendly and there to help if needed, though hopefully they won’t be needed: We’ve put a lot of emphasis on customer service as customers expect this and it was also a top priority at both our past companies, Quidsi (Diapers.com) and Rent the Runway

You two met at Wharton. Do you remember your first interaction? Did you bond over something specific?

LA: We met at dinner that two of our friends, who were currently at Wharton, put together during our Wharton welcome weekend. The same person that introduced me to Lara also introduced me to my husband!

How many days a week were you making trips to the liquor store when the Minibar concept was conceived?

LC: Only around once a month, but it was always my least favorite shopping trip.

Takeout Tuesdays – that was the ritual between you both, after graduation. What does that entail?

LA: It was usually at my apartment, and once we got serious about taking the big leap and doing a start-up, we added a whiteboard to the weekly gathering. We usually ordered pizza or chinese and had to go-to a store for the wine, it was usually sauvignon blanc or if we were feeling festive, Champagne. 

What was the first iteration of Minibar?

LA: The business concept looks extremely similar to the early days when it was just a dream. Though to start, we were only in Manhattan and Brooklyn, we only had wine and liquor, as beer is sold at a seperate store so required some additional tech work and we launched with only an iPhone app. It was definitely a great improvement when we added beer and our website just a few months after launch.

LC: I think we’re probably too embarrassed to tell you the original name, but suffice it to say that Minibar Delivery was a big improvement.

What were the first days like? Were you still working full time at your previous jobs, or did you quit to work on this brand?

LA: Once we left our full-time jobs in August 2013, it was a bit scary, but really exciting. There was no typical path or playbook to follow. We had to make it up as we went. We were really lucky to find our CTO that September. The early days we were extremely scrappy and busy. It was all hands on deck …pounding the pavement to every liquor store in Manhattan and selling a product they couldn’t see or use, just an idea.

LC: We were working 18 hours/day, with one of us covering customer service every night.

What are your expansion plans?

LA: We just launched a new program called Vineyard Select, which connects consumers to Vineyards much like we currently connect them to local liquor stores. We are more than doubling the number of Vineyards on our platform in the coming weeks. We also have a few new city launches planned some including some new Florida cities to the Minibar Delivery platform.

Are there any spirits or brands on the site that are exclusive to Minibar Delivery?

LA: No, as it has to be carried by the store to be on Minibar. Though some of our wines on Vineyard Select are sold with limited distribution, so Minibar is one of the only places to buy them.

Before delivered to thirsty consumers, where do the booze come from?

LA: The alcohol comes from the local stores we work with. We also work with Vineyards who ship their products to customers from a warehouse or their vineyard.

Who are the delivery people? Minibar employees, or from the local shops?

LC: All the delivery staff is employed by local retailers.

What are Minibar Delivery's hours of delivery?

LC: It depends on the retailers hours, which can vary by city.

How big is the minibar team these days?

LA: Our team is 38 full-time employees, nearly half are on our amazing customer service team.

Back to how this all began: how often do you order food delivery these days?

LA: We order quite frequently as my husband and I have a two year old, so we go out less frequently and we are often too exhausted to cook.

LC: More often than I’d like to admit! Sadly neither my husband nor I are skilled chefs, so we order take-out or go out most nights.

What else do you order online, or have delivered, regularly?

LA: Everything… diapers, paper towels, clothes, groceries. If I can buy it online, I do.

LC: I order almost everything online. 

Is there anything you shop for in-person these days? What is it and why?

LA: Not really, except sometimes clothes for myself, if I want to try them on.

LC: Occasionally clothes and shoes. 

BouliBrand is a boutique marketing + entrepreneurship + communications + branding movement focused on creating vibrant, purposeful and revenue-generating media experiences on a partner-by-partner basis. With strategic partnerships in New York, Toronto, Athens, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Shanghai, we work directly with savvy, driven and optimistic clients wanting to produce fresh platforms of communication and target nouveau markets internationally with their startup businesses and services. BouliBrand is propelled by Georgios (George) Stroumboulis (Γιώργος Στρουμπούλης) - an internationally seasoned marketing professional with tangible business experiences across multiple industries and diverse cultures. To learn more about BouliBrand, Georgios and the stimulating team spearheading the BouliBrand movement forward, get in contact at www.BouliBrand.com, www.Facebook.com/BouliBrand, www.Twitter.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.Instagram.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.LinkedIn.com/in/Stroumboulis, www.YouTube.com/Stroumboulis or www.Pinterest.com/BouliBrand. BouliBrand shares progressive industry information related to the marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, investment, networking, financing, start-up, public relations, internet, web, creative and business movement. We gather select articles, blogs, news, posts, press releases, announcements, interviews, commentary, videos, clips and anything we feel might be worth reviewing for our visitors, followers, clients and partners.

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