Different offices have different traditions but there’s one that is well-loved across almost every single one that has it: that of Friday afternoon drinks. Of course, work can get busy and even if there’s a bottle shop nearby, it can be hard to keep the fridge stocked. While there are a number of alcohol delivery services that can solve that problem, Brisbane startup Friday Beers has decided to go in hard on that Friday afternoon niche.
Like many a great idea, the startup was born out of, well, laziness. Founder Lee Mathers found himself craving beer one Friday afternoon and, feeling too lazy to walk the 500m to the bottle shop, sent coworker Keegan Sard down to buy some.
“He came back with some pretty average stuff, which I wasn’t very happy about. That got us thinking as to why I couldn’t get cold beer delivered to me in 2015. We did a bit of Googling around and saw that there’s plenty of alcohol deliveries, and there are a couple of services overseas that do boutique beer delivery, but there wasn’t a lot that we could find in Australia that would have solved my problem, as much of a first world problem as it really is,” Mathers said.
Thinking he couldn’t be the only ones who wanted a cold beer on a Friday afternoon, Mathers reached out to his friends and eventual cofounders Matt Browning and Nick Pinn, and they founded Friday Beers, a service that, like the name suggests, delivers beers to offices on Friday afternoons. Browning, who has worked in the alcohol industry for a decade and has relationships with breweries around Australia, selects the beers and ciders to deliver. Each six pack costs $28.80, with the startup also recently introducing one-off packs of spirits and mixers for $25.50.
Launched four months ago, Friday Beers now has around 65 subscribers in Brisbane. Offering customers a flexible subscription that they can suspend or cancel at any time, Mathers said the service has lost only three subscribers since launch, all of which said they simply didn’t need the service anymore.
With startups often the first adopters or customers for other startups, Friday Beers has found a solid base within Brisbane’s startup ecosystem, delivering to hubs like River City Labs.
“We’re such a huge fan of startups, we love looking after those guys. The startup community in Brisbane is really starting to take off, there’s a few little shared desk spaces like Little Tokyo Two and a lot of smaller IT companies that have heard about us and love us. We walk into places and get a huge cheer on a Friday afternoon, so it’s definitely a tech startup-oriented business for sure,” Mathers said.
Of course, the Brisbane market isn’t huge and, as such, the startup has its eyes on expansion to Sydney and Melbourne over the next few months, with Mathers hoping to be in Sydney by February.
“We do definitely see the market as being bigger in Sydney and Melbourne than Brisbane, not only because of the more concentrated CBD and delivery area than we can get here in Brisbane, but also because there’s a bit more of an appreciation for craft beer and cider and the type of service we’re offering in those markets than up here,” Mathers said.
Along with the Friday afternoon deliveries, the craft aspect is the key to the business. Mathers admits that it’s “a bit wanky,” but said that the startup wants to take customers on a journey with the beer and help them discover something new. Each six pack delivered is comprised of three different beers.
“The beers we’re delivering aren’t necessarily ones you can find in big chains like Dan Murphy’s; it is definitely craft, boutique beer, and the idea behind that is that everyone’s got their favourite…but this is about going on a bit of a journey and discovering that there is something else out there besides Tooheys New or XXXX Gold,” Mathers said.
When it comes to taking on investment in order to fund the expansion interstate, the team is keeping its options open, but Mathers said they’re being cautious.
“We’re open to it, but we’re also realistic about the fact that this is a fairly niche market. We think the potential is huge; our longer term goal over the next 18 months to 2 years is to get to a few thousand deliveries on a Friday afternoon, and when it scales it certainly makes sense financially. If we can do that fast without outside investment, we’ll do it.”
The team is also looking at how it can carve out its very small niche at best it can, with forging partnerships with other delivery businesses to integrate services one option. At the heart of it all, however, is keeping the service strong in order to grow the referral network.
While he is, of course, thrilled it’s going well, Mathers laughed that an idea born out of laziness is now keeping him busier than ever.
“It blew up in my face! That’s all I do on my Friday afternoons now. I’m doing nothing but racing around making sure everyone’s got their beer and it’s not until everyone else has theirs that I get to sit down and have a beer. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”