Derrick Gakuu and Kariuki Maina were attending a late-night party at Nairobi’s Kilimani area when their joy was cut short when liquor ran out.
Frantic calls to nearby liquor operators bore no fruit. The party ended. But a business idea was playing on the mind of somebody as the disappointment sank in.
“Mr Maina had just joined me at a start-up where we were creating an app-based laundry solution that could facilitate pick-up, wash, iron and deliver when the new ‘urgent’ problem presented itself with a solution,” recalls Mr Gakuu.
Mr Maina had just quit as the marketing director at a virtual mall he helped found and they immediately abandoned their laundry project for what would call BoozeIT, an app that is downloaded.
The mobile-based app was ready in late 2015, but liquor stores were hesitant about home deliveries and so they recruited boda boda (motorcycle taxi) operators.
“We targeted liquor wholesalers who would give a discount specifically for whiskies priced at above Sh1,000. This would see boda boda operators get a commission for every ‘package’ delivered to a customer,” recalls Mr Maina.
Between August 2016 to December 2016, the duo made sales, but realised the the model was not scalable “and we pulled it down for upgrade and secure it further where customers pay upfront to the liquor stores with deliveries done within 20 minutes.”
The upgraded app incorporated merchant and customer interface whereby location of the nearest store determined which store picked the order.
Mr Gakuu, the CEO met Mr Maina, the strategy chief in 2015 while studying at Moi University.
“For every transaction, we earn a commission from our co-sharing platform. Merchants also enjoy access to information about demand-driven products. Some liquor manufacturers have also been buying our data to understand which Nairobi regions love their products,” adds Mr Gakuu.
Their platform was recently used by some new brands that adopted a soft advertising approach targeting specific income groups.
“Friday and Saturday are our busiest days for our 15 riders and18 liqour stores in Nairobi. In Mombasa we have three participating stores,” adds Mr Gakuu.
The customer and the rider communicate via Internet ready phones that promote geo-locations.
Events and marketing firms have subscribed to their services, mostly during weekends.