When StartU first sat down with Bevz in November 2020, the company offered an e-commerce platform for convenience stores and a mobile app for consumers to order alcohol, food, and beverages from these stores. Bevz also worked with several snack and drink brands to partner and advertise on the platform.
Since then, Bevz has transformed into a business-to-business (B2B) software as a service (SaaS) platform for these retailers. StartU sat down with CEO & Co-Founder Jason Vego to discuss the journey from an e-commerce marketplace to a SaaS platform, the challenges of this evolution, and the future of Bevz.
Evolving the Platform
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Bevz felt like it was in the right business as customers flocked to Bevz for localized alcohol delivery, with revenue and user count increasing accordingly. After several months in the market, Jason and the Bevz team gained three key insights:
Stores were not tracking their inventory, which led to constant mistakes and lost revenue both in-store and across e-commerce.
Stores wanted to use multiple e-commerce platforms and allow their customers to use their preferred delivery app but did not have the tools to manage one platform, let alone multiple.
Snack and drink brands wanted more data and information about what stores were buying and selling and what trends they should pay attention to.
Co-founders Jason and Victor took a step back and reflected on what motivated them to start Bevz: helping convenience stores. Victor knew from his 35-year career owning and operating convenience stores that these retailers struggle to adopt new technology and do not have the tools or infrastructure to keep up with the increasingly complex snack and drink ecosystem. As a result, convenience stores will lose about $8 billion in revenue this year.
Based on these key insights, Jason and Victor realized that the best way to address the problems faced by convenience stores and the broader snack and drink market was to evolve into a full-scale B2B SaaS platform. The new Bevz platform helps store owners order inventory and integrate in-store sales and e-commerce.
Though convenience stores retain the original Bevz consumer app, the platform will also integrate DoorDash and the Uber portfolio to make it easy to manage multiple platforms. Bevz will continue to add more e-commerce integrations in the coming year.
Challenges and Successes
With this evolution, the Bevz co-founders realized that they needed to hire a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and build an in-house development team to better manage the product moving forward. They recruited one of their mentors from their Preccelerator program to be their CTO and built a 4-person, in-house technology team.
Next, Bevz focused on securing e-commerce partners. It took months to rebrand the company and secure these partnerships. However, as Bevz has grown and built credibility, it has become easier to offer a partnership model that meets the exact needs of each e-commerce company.
Bevz also partners with snack and drink brands like Anheuser-Busch and Lotte. These companies are eager to work with Bevz because they offer an easy and effective connection to a group of retailers that are difficult to reach and influence.
The company’s key competitive advantage is its industry knowledge and relationships, given that convenience stores have unique business operations and needs. There are many restaurant management software platforms like Toast, ChowNow, and Ordermark, but Bevz created the first-ever convenience store management platform.
Growth and Funding
Bevz is on track to double its growth in 2022 and expand even faster in 2023. The company works with 200 convenience stores throughout California but are now focused on expanding to other states—an easy transition given the digital nature and built-in scalability of its platform. As Bevz continues to build out more integrations, add customers, and track data, it will become a critical piece of the snack and drink ecosystem.
The company’s vision is to integrate technology into the 150,000+ convenience store across the nation, creating the largest and most powerful network of snack and drink retailers. Working toward that vision, Bevz recently started an online community to connect convenience stores, which has grown organically to include over 450 store owners.
Bevz is raising a $400,000 SAFE with a $5 million post-money valuation cap and a 25% discount. This capital will be used to expedite its traction amongst convenience stores, snack and drink brands, and e-commerce partners. The round is moving fast with $250k already committed.