We live in a city with thousands of bars, but most of us tend to stick to our neighborhood. What if we told you that there was a way for you to explore the best city in the world one bar at a time? (Would you think we were alcoholics?)
The trio, Catie Cole, Dae Lim and Harry Lee founded a new app called FROTH. What is interesting about these specific TasteMakers and company is that FROTH is launching for the first time now, as in right now, as you read this. We were able to speak to the founders back in March and gain insight as to what their process was in coming up with the idea and the best ways to execute a social mobile app.
“What we really enjoy about drinking is the opportunity to meet new people.”
The three met back in 2013 (clearly three is a recurring number here) and came up with the idea on a warm sunny summer afternoon in August 2015 (quick turnover from ideation to execution!). Being new in New York City and overwhelmed with options, they found it hard to explore and find the right bars. The idea revolved around “how can we make drinking a smarter activity and how can we gain exposure to different bars? It's essentially like joining a drinking club. The future plan is that if you are traveling and don't know where to go in a new city, FROTH acts as your guide” (watch out Yelp!).
“The last thing we want to be is a Groupon. We want to make this an affordable membership, but at the same time it is the branding and community aspect that brings a sense of sophistication to FROTH.”
Unlike other apps, FROTH functions around a $10 subscription business model in which members can only join by invitation or referrals. This helps the team control the demographic, create organic growth and build a community of like minded individuals. Reason being? To provide valuable opportunities to bars by targeting a specific demographic. “Right now, we are working with a few micro communities in the NYC area, such as NYU grad students and Columbia grad students.” FROTH is also part of the Columbia and Harvard Incubator teams as well as the WeWork community. Fun fact: after signing up, your first five rounds of drinks are free or as the founders like to say FROTH, First Round On The House. “Our main value proposition to the bars is that we bring customers to their door and hopefully they will get that second round of drinks. We also have behavioral incentives in the app to encourage people to order another round. There are a lot of factors to consider on the scalability of the model, but it is a model that we hope to expand beyond New York.”
So who are these people you might wonder? Dae was born in Korea and graduated from Harvard University in 2014 with a major in Applied Math. Post graduation, he worked at McKinsey for a year and a half as an Analyst. He had previously known Harry from Korea and actually met Catie at an Ultra Music Festival during college where they became fast friends. He is the man behind the strategy for FROTH. The youngest on the team, Catie is currently attending Harvard herself and is set to graduate this May (congrats) with a major in Psychology and handles sales and user acquisition. Harry, on the other hand, previously graduated from Columbia and majored in Computer Science. Being a tech guy, he is responsible for building out the app alongside two in-house engineers, who are also friends. This has helped control development costs as well as allow FROTH to be flexible and agile.
“Everyday we changed our strategy and model because new things would come up or people would express concerns and we were so vulnerable and accepting of everyone's criticisms. But now, we are a point where it is more fun than anything else.”
“The hardest part initially was getting an introduction to the bars as they are constantly being pitched by lots of companies everyday and none of us had ever worked in the food and beverage industry. At the same time, ClassPass was just getting big at this point and we wanted to jump in on the subscription space. We jokingly called it BarPass in the beginning as coming up with a name was such a struggle.”
It is crucial to get an advisor on board to help you in your infancy stage. FROTH did just that by bringing on Miguel Aranda from Botanical Lab and Apotheke to help familiarize them with the market. The team reached out to a lot of different people in the industry to receive feedback and Dae tells us how effective cold emailing has been for the team.
RADICHE GUIDE for those looking to launch an app:
- Aha, you’ve come up with something brilliant!
- Send out a survey to your target market to collect feedback and prove your hypothesis
- Test out the market before developing a digital product
- Create a minimum viable product, even if it's a Squarespace website to shop the idea around
- Focus on user retention first and how to drive up user activity before worrying about user acquisition
- Get as much feedback as possible early on
- Join incubators or tech-accelerators to jump start your funding or fine tune your business plan
- Bring on an advisor from the field
- Constantly iterate
- Once you start acquiring users, be mindful of your branding and marketing
- Be you because everybody else is already taken!