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Florida Funders invests $917,000 in Tampa data firm Bridge

Bridge specializes in providing detailed consumer data that helps producers of liquor, beer and wine target their advertising.
Tampa-based consumer data company Bridge is working to solve a specialty retailing problem that goes back to the end of Prohibition, and it’s getting help from venture capitalists at Florida Funders.
Tampa-based consumer data company Bridge is working to solve a specialty retailing problem that goes back to the end of Prohibition, and it’s getting help from venture capitalists at Florida Funders.
Published Nov. 12
Updated Nov. 13

TAMPA — If a distiller like Captain Morgan wants to know, really know, who drinks its private stock rum and why, it has a problem dating back to the end of Prohibition.

Now Bridge, a Tampa-based consumer data company, is working to provide the companies that make alcohol with detailed insights on their customers, and it’s getting $917,000 in investment from venture capitalists at Florida Funders.

The challenge that Bridge aims to address has its roots in the lawlessness of Prohibition itself.

In 1933, as liquor sales became legal again in the United States, federal regulators didn’t want distillers and brewers selling too directly to the public. So they required producers to sell to wholesalers who, in turn, distributed the alcohol to retailers.

A goal of this three-tier system was to keep any one sector — or organized crime — from dominating the industry. It also facilitated the efficient collection of taxes on alcohol.

But it was lousy for marketing, because it created a disconnect between producers and consumers.

RELATED: Craft beer, growlers and the three-tier system

Bridge, now about a year old, aims to use sales data collected by retailers, plus consumer data to help producers, distributors and retailers understand a market of 160 million consumers.

“These insights ultimately provide brands with valuable ammunition that allows them to build more efficient and effective advertising strategies,” Bridge founder and chief executive officer Alex Miningham told the Embarc Collective in an interview this year. (Bridge, initially called Proof Network, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday from the Tampa Bay Times.)

Florida Funders, a venture capital fund and crowd-funding platform based in Tampa, this week said it has raised $917,000 to invest in Bridge — $500,000 from its own impact fund and $417,000 from its network of investors.

RELATED: For capital-hungry Florida startups, a new way to attract investors emerges

"Beverage companies that use Bridge have a huge advantage over their competition,” Florida Funders managing partner Tom Wallace said in an announcement of the investment.

Bridge created a mobile app for stores that sell beer, wine and liquor that helps them market their inventory to consumers under their own brands while allowing Bridge to collect data on every sale made at every store. So far, 215 stores, from single-location outlets to chains of 50 or more, have started using the app.

Bridge combines the app’s data with what Miningham has described as third-party “demographic and psychographic data” that can be sold to producers, and suppliers such as MillerCoors, Pernod Ricard and Moët Hennessy have been buying. The company says the combination of data that it collects itself and what it gets from third-party partners generates “unique data points and insights” on more than 160 million consumers of alcoholic drinks.

Those insights, according to the company’s web site, include analytics on purchasing behavior, promotions and pricing performance, demand forecasting and customer lifetime value, a marketing metric that predicts the revenue or profit that a company can expect from its relationship with a given customer. On LinkedIn, for example, the company recently said that white wine drinkers are over 15 percent more likely than bourbon buyers to book a trip abroad.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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