It is the biggest bet for the world’s largest internet company, Google. In fact, it is every large technology, software company’s next big bet.
Cloud computing – the idea of being able to store, manage and process data using a network of remote servers on the internet instead of a physical computer is changing the whole idea of accessibility. It is the same idea that has made Dropbox one the hottest startup stories of its times.
So far, it has only been about storing documents, pictures, videos and even music on the cloud. But what if you could store your alcohol on the cloud, too? Yes, you read right – alcohol.
This brainwave came to the director of Chennai-based boutique vodka-maker Sipping Spirits, Prasanna Natarajan in 2014. With over a decade’s experience in the alcohol industry, Natarajan saw a clear stagnation and lack of innovation in the market. The whole concept is based on the fact that thought people like to enjoy a good drink, the fat bill that follows is a huge deterrent. Everyone is looking for value for money. Thus, was born HipBar.
The idea is pretty basic. Go to the app, browse through the premium spirits listed on the platform, pick what you want and pay through the app. Your bottle is now stored in the cloud. And then all you have to do is walk into any retail store or bar, scan your QR code and pick up your bottle. The incentive here is the value offered on each item by the brands.
“What the customers gets here is premium alcohol at a lesser price. Brands offer discounts on the platform to be able to engage and reward customers. And when they see that their audience is regular, they’re able to offer them with special deals. Also, there is a great cashless checkout experience here,” says Natarajan
Natarajan and his team built a prepaid instrument fabric like Paytm, authorized by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), with a marketing platform over it. HipBar has a merchant discount rate running with all of its merchants and charges commission. It is a win-win for all. Customers get their value for money, brands foster loyal customers and HipBar gets its commission.
HipBar has so far invested Rs 7.5 crore into the business. The funds came from Natarajan’s boutique vodka firm and from friends and family.
Officially launched on February 14, HipBar currently has a network of 40 retail stores in Bengaluru. This will now be expanded to 100 stores in the next few weeks. Additionally, HipBar is building a network of bars where users can go enjoy their drink that’s stored in the cloud.
Having seen over 15,000 downloads since launch, Natarajan hopes to bring 50,000 active users on to the platform within the city of Bengaluru itself.
Chennai is the next market it will enter. And in the next few months, HipBar will be expanding to the other southern cities. It is also working on increasing the number of brands and promotional listings on the app.
Reserve by the bottle and consume by the peg – that’s the next feature HipBar will roll out in the week to come. So instead of picking up the entire bottle, you can just scan the code and get yourself a small portion of the bottle. This consumption will then reflect on your bottle in the cloud. It is all about enjoying a good drink, says Natarajan.