From Neighbors to Business Partners
Jason Vego didn’t plan for his youth basketball coach and neighbor to become his business partner. In fact, when Victor Grayr, the founder of Bevz, first pitched the idea of a retailer-first, convenience store technology platform, Jason thought it sounded like a big ask with high barriers to entry. In addition, Jason had his hands full with a job at Citrix and a dog grooming app business on the side.
Fast forward to Jason entering UCLA Anderson’s Fully-Employed MBA Program. He wanted to apply the skills he was learning in class to an entrepreneurial venture and decided to join as a founding member of Bevz in January 2020, one week after the company’s entry into the market.
A retailer-first approach to on-demand delivery
The idea for Bevz originated through Victor’s first-hand retail experience with alcohol e-commerce and on-demand delivery platforms. Having spent his 33-year career owning and operating liquor and convenience stores throughout California, Victor became an eager early adopter of on-demand platforms and even ran deliveries through his stores well before apps existed. After seeing the challenges retailers faced in onboarding, user experience, and ongoing customer support, he knew there had to be a better way. He set out to build a company that would offer independent, locally-operated retailers the technology to grow their business through e-commerce, starting with on-demand delivery. By combining easy-to-use software for the non-technical retailer with a modern, simple consumer mobile app, Victor created a streamlined experience on both sides of the platform.
Bevz is a one-stop-shop for alcohol and convenience store items like liquor, beer, wine, sodas, snacks, medicine, and grocery items delivered in 45 minutes or less. With more than 8,000 options for retailers to sell through the app, Bevz makes it easy for retailers to tailor their product mix and inventory to their target demographic. In turn, Bevz provides consumers with low minimum delivery, fast delivery times, and a vast product library. In practice, this means that as soon as a new product or liquor flavor comes on the market, Bevz adds it to its library and retailers can offer it in their store right away so consumers have the best options available, wholesalers have guaranteed eyes on new products, and retailers are well-positioned to meet customer needs.
We’re used to ordering food delivery in a few simple clicks and it’s no surprise that the expectation for on-demand alcohol delivery is finally catching up. In 2019, online alcohol sales were $2.6B, up from zero in 2013, and a 32.7% increase from 2018. On-demand sales through delivery apps were $295M and thanks to the global pandemic, the market is set to grow to $1B in 2020.
Currently operating in Southern California, Bevz benefits from high-touch retailer engagement as well as partnerships with key suppliers like Anheuser Busch and Pernod Ricard, and wholesalers like Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Young’s Market, to bridge the gap between product placement, consumer analytics, and digital promotion.
“Bevz was built by retailers, for retailers,” said Victor Grayr, Founder & CEO of Bevz. “We focus relentlessly on retailers, giving them the technology, support, and marketing to better connect with their customers and deliver thousands of different products from their store. With Bevz, local liquor stores can stay relevant and compete against big-box chains, while offering consumers the next level of convenience.”
The use case for partnerships is clear. Through its July 4th partnership with Bevz, Anheuser-Busch drove 650,000 impressions and a 254% increase in sales of campaign products. According to Anheuser-Busch’s Senior Manager of Retail Integration, this digital media campaign brought more engagement and success than any previous push.
Scaling to meet customer demand
As an unexpected perk of launching just two months before COVID-19 hit the United States, overall sales of alcoholic beverages soared by 58% for the week ending March 21 according to Nielsen. This spike in demand brought consumers flocking to Bevz looking for safe, localized alcohol delivery.
Since launching in January, Bevz has seen a 288% quarterly increase in revenue, a 106% quarterly increase in users, and 8 paid advertising partnerships. Bevz has expanded its in-store marketing efforts and has new paid and strategic partnerships in the works to continue the effort to improve omnichannel connectivity across retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, and customers.
Bevz has supported its growth through $1M raised through friends and family and is part of The Preccelerator Program, a Santa Monica-based early-stage startup accelerator.
Bevz is currently seeking $1-3M in seed financing to scale outside of SoCal, boost marketing and operations, and provide more unique features for retailers like: inventory management, POS systems integration, credit card processing, and insurance to be a full-service platform for retailers across the country. The company’s long-term vision is to deliver a national, full-scale convenience store technology platform that capitalizes on both in-store and delivery.