When Andrea Sanchez registered for her wedding in 2005, she was struck by both the ease and rarity of the occasion.
"It's unfortunate that the only time you have a list of things your friends can search and buy for you is when you get married or have a baby," Sanchez says. The Austin-based entrepreneur had recently dropped out of law school to study programming full-time, and an idea struck her: Why not take the guesswork out of gift giving and focus on the sentiment?
For Sanchez, one of the most sentimental things a person can buy another person is also one of the most simple: Beer.
For bars, the app opens up an entirely new buying base that doesn't even have to be on-site to give them business.
She launched BeerGram on Super Bowl Sunday from her home base in Austin and counted on the community culture of craft beer to help the app take off. The free application allows users to buy their friends beers at participating bars (Cottonwood, Big Star Bar, Grand Prize, Liberty Station, Little Woodrow's Midtown and Heights and The Hay Merchant, in Houston — with Petrol Station and Onion Creek coming soon) and utilizes individual profiles to allow users to accumulate favorite brews, write reviews and make recommendations.
Beyond friends sharing beers, Sanchez notes that the review feature — only accessible after you've purchased or redeemed a beer — gives breweries and brewpubs a more reliable data set when it comes to what people are drinking than anonymous online reviews. "It actually tracks purchasing — whether people liked something enough to buy it," she says.
Users can also check-in at their favorite craft beer bars and meet like-minded friends or simply declare that they're ready for a pint. For bars, the app opens up an entirely new buying base that doesn't even have to be on-site to give them business.
"When I started working on it, I was thinking about migratory paths," Sanchez says. "I live in Austin, but I have a lot of friends in Houston. You stay in touch on Facebook or Twitter, but I didn't have the capacity to do even something small for them. You can send [a BeerGram] to clients, to someone that helps you move, or if you're out at night you can entice friends to come where you are," Sanchez says.
Imagine talking with a West Coast friend suffering from a particularly shit day at the office. Instead of mere words of condolence or offering to hate a colleague you've never met, send a BeerGram. It's a small gesture with immense implications — introducing new audiences to local microbrews and opening up the buying audience of your local craft beer bar to well, anyone.
To download BeerGram free and get started being a better friend, click here.