So a friend, family member or coworker is celebrating with a night out on the town. You’d like to join them but you can’t.
A local tech start-up called BeerGivr allows you the opportunity to buy someone a drink, even when you can’t be at the pub in person.
“There’s tons of different applications. I’m going to miss a party; I lost a bet. There’s tons of ways… beer is kind of like its own little currency,” said Ryan Bricklemyer, one of the partners in the venture.
BeerGivr started out as the brainchild of Sean Kennedy, who works as an information technology consultant. The genesis of the company was in part inspired by his attempts to say thank you to customers and business partners working in a global business where he never met 90 percent of the people he interacted with in a given day.
When Kennedy, a Canton resident, wanted to send a small token of appreciation he would have to go to a large chain restaurant that he knew had a location near the person, buy and mail a gift card or try to find someone close by to purchase a gift card at an establishment the person liked.
Bricklemyer, a Halethorpe resident and UMBC graduate, explained the idea grew even further because of a verbal tick common among information technology consultants.
“In consulting you constantly say ‘I owe you a beer.’ It is this thing that everybody says. I think I owe cases of beer to people because I’ve said it so much,” Bricklemyer said.
So last July, after letting the idea ferment for about two years, Kennedy designed a prototype BeerGivr site during one weekend. He and Bricklemyer then lined up their first two partners in October.
Currently, BeerGivr has 16 participating locations mostly in the city. is the only participating bar in North Baltimore thus far, although Kennedy said they want to expand to more bars in this part of the city and into Towson. BeerGivr also just picked up its first suburban partner with Frisco Taphouse and Brewery in Columbia.
According to Kennedy and Bricklemyer, establishments have been receptive to the idea of BeerGivr, mainly because it doesn’t cost them anything, except for having to teach employees how to use BeerGivr.
“We really think this is the right way to do it is to be partners with bars and help them bring in premium customers, unlike Living Social which brings in the guys looking for the lowest price,” Bricklemyer said.
But BeerGivr is still quite a way from making Kennedy and Bricklemyer the next tech company to make it big. Both of them still work full time jobs, which makes signing up more bars and restaurants a difficult proposition.
And although the dream is to be able to run BeerGivr fulltime, growth to that point may be slow. As Bricklemyer explained, their business model requires them to be doing a large volume of business. That’s because their profits come from fees charged to a customer— 5 percent of the gift to cover fees and a $1 commission—to make a profit. Currently the website is averaging about 100 unique viewers a day that will sometimes peak to about 500 unique viewers, Kennedy said.
They’re also still working out some bugs, for instance how to allow a customer to redeem the amount gifted to them at multiple locations. Currently the system only allows for a customer to spend the money gifted to them at one location.
But the pair believes in the concept passionately and think they can make BeerGivr a success.
“It has really great potential to become something very big. Mind you I’m not really driven financially by this. I want to be able to not go to my nine to five and that’s kind of our first goal with this,” Bricklemyer said. “ If we can not do our nine to five and do this then we have succeeded. Anything else beyond that is kind of icing on the cake and I’m really, really confident we’re going to get there soon.”
How to Use BeerGivr
All a customer has to do is go to the website, or use the BeerGivr app on a smart phone, and give the person a set amount through a PayPal account. A text message is sent to the receiver’s phone—you can even attach a personal message—and the person can use the text at a participating bar to buy drinks, food or even swag from the bar.