On-demand alcohol startup Thirstie has raised a $1.1 million seed round.
Co-founder and CEO Devaraj Southworth acknowledged that things are getting competitive, but he suggested that Thirstie stands out in a couple of ways. First, he argued that from a product perspective, Thirstie is really just a marketing platform for the liquor stores — it’s not creating any hardware, and, like many of competitors, it’s not delivering the alcohol itself. Instead, the company allows customers to order alcohol from stores that already deliver (saving itself the effort of building a network of delivery people, not to mention the legal hassles around transporting/serving alcohol).
At the same time, Southworth said the consumer experience is of the utmost importance. Sure, Thirstie might not make the deliveries itself, but it can still check on the stores: “If you’re not up to snuff, we’ve got another 25 retailers in that one geography that are happy to come on-board.”
Thirstie is also aiming to building a relationship with consumers through alcohol-related content. For example, as part of its Austin launch, the company has built a microsite tied to South by Southwest, where you can not just order local drinks, but also learn more about Austin’s drinking culture. In fact, Thirstie recently brought on Abigail Bassett, formerly of CNN Money, as its editorial director.
The company says it works with more than 100 retailers in cities including Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and San Francisco.
The round comes from individual investors including Rakesh Gupta of KiwiTech and Director of KiwiVentures, bringing Thirstie’s total funding to $1.2 million. That’s not a huge sum of money, but Southworth said he’s been focused on “capital conservation” — in other words he didn’t want to spend or raise much money until now, after he’s proven the model.