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Cheers Tampa! You can now get booze delivered to your house

Published Nov. 12, 2015

Thirsty Tampa Bay?

Just like that viral YouTube video of the dog getting a cold beer out of the fridge for its owner, a tech company new to Tampa Bay wants to make it easier to bring the booze to you.

Drizly, a mobile-app company based in Boston, is partnering with ABC Fine Wine & Spirits stores to deliver alcohol to your door.

The app recently launched in the Tampa market. Similar to Shipt, the grocery delivery app offered in Tampa Bay, users download an app or log on online to order the beverages of their choice. (Shipt can't deliver alcohol from grocery stores.) ABC employees at the closest store to your location will process the order and deliver it to you within an hour.

Once they get to your door, the driver scans your I.D. and hands over the goods.

"ABC drivers use our software to get turn-by-turn directions to your home and the customer can watch the driver on the map, the same way they track Uber drivers," said co-founder Justin Robinson.

Like grocery delivery, there are other competitors out there like Saucey and Mini Bar Delivery, but they're not in Tampa.

Robinson and his partner, Nick Rellas are both 26. Drizly, which they founded three years ago, just logged $18 million in revenue.

Drizly partners with local liquor stores in cities across the country. Tampa is the company's first foray into Florida. The delivery service is available in Hillsborough County from south of Cheval to South Tampa to Westchase to downtown Tampa. (Sorry Pinellas County and the north Suncoast).

Tampa is Drizly's 18th city. Robinson expects to expand the partnership with ABC to reach more cities in Florida next year.

We caught up with Robinson Thursday afternoon to learn more.

Unlike the hotel and taxi industries, which were a little blindsided by the entrance of technology companies like Airbnb and Uber, alcohol is highly regulated. How does Drizly work through that?

Alcohol delivery has always been legal. The tricky part is how to combine it with technology. The liquor stores we partner with, in Tampa's case it's ABC, handles processing the transaction. They are in control of every order from start to finish. We built an I.D. scanner into the app for an added element of protection. It scans the barcode on the back of the I.D., with the same technology your phone uses to scan QR codes.

Since ABC employees are already trained to check I.D.s, this was easy.

Before we launched in Tampa we did spend some time in Tallahassee talking to the regulatory boards about what we do, instead of doing what other tech companies have done in Florida (Uber and Airbnb) where they ask for forgiveness instead of permission. We got their okay and now we've launched.

So how do you make money?

The app is free to download. There's no membership fee to use. The prices are the same you'd see in the store but there's a $5 delivery fee.

We charge a licensing fee to the liquor stores to use the software. They pay us monthly to be able to offer Drizly as a service.

Okay, so put the moms out there at ease. You scan I.D.s for every purchase right?

Technically drivers aren't required to scan I.D.s to close out a sale, but it's a tool they're expected to use every time. These are liquor store employees who are trained to check I.D.s in the stores, so this shouldn't be any different. There is a $20 restocking fee which a customer is charged, though, that the store will keep if an order can't be processed.

So do the liquor stores have to hire delivery drivers for this?

Stores definitely ramp up staff to meet the extra demand. I mean, a store is going to be busy on Friday and Saturday night at a time where more people are probably going to order from Drizly. And this isn't the first time ABC has delivered. They've delivered alcohol in a limited capacity for corporate events and things like that. We've just added a way for them to deliver liquor to more people with added layers of protection.

So why the name Drizly?

When we started we knew we didn't want to be "liquordelivered.com." So we started brainstorming some quick and short but memorable names. We shopped out the names to our family and friends. We ended up going with Drizly because both of our moms really liked it, actually.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com. Follow @SunBizGriffin

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