Tech City: Pre-paid coffee app ‘like an Oyster card for drinks’
07:00 14 January 2016
Tech City is the third largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street roundabout. This week, Victoria Ibitoye talks to the founders of DripApp
During a brainstorming session, childhood friends Ruben Grigri and Jeremy Cortial decided to bet on themselves and put one of their ideas to work.
Fuelled by their love of good quality coffee and their wish to see independent shops compete with chains, they launched DripApp, which allows users to sign up to pre-paid coffee plans at niche coffee shops.
“I think at some point if you overthink too much you never do it because you always find a reason not to,” says Jeremy, 30.
“A lot of people have ideas. We decided just to do it and see what happens. We were bootstrapping for a very long time and only just got investors in September.”
“Self-financing is always a risk even today,” agrees Ruben, 26.
“It’s a bet. We knew that at some point we wanted to make something and already had small businesses in France. At some point you know you have to just take the risk.”
Ruben and Jeremy realised that independent coffee shops didn’t want difficult hardware so developed a method that was quick and simple to use.
“What we offer instead is a pre-paid coffee plan. It’s kind of like an Oyster card only instead of topping up money you are topping up drinks,” explains Ruben.
“When you log in it’s localised so you choose which shop you want to visit.
“You then have a drink list with information about the shop and select the drink of your choice. Once that’s done you show your phone to the barista who makes the order. Each shop has a unique digit code they tap and it’s all paid via mobile.
“It makes the ordering process much simpler for the customer because it’s only three clicks. There also are a lot of independent shops on the app so it actually simplifies the process.”
Central to DripApp is the need to make good quality coffee discoverable, and finding enough good quality shops to work with was the biggest challenge the pair faced when they first launched the app.
“We don’t have a rating system, we sell quality. We have been approached by a lot of shops but not everyone makes the cut,” says Ruben.
“In the beginning we launched 10 to 15 coffee shops and it was hard at first because once you get a customer on board, if you don’t have enough shops near them there’s no point in them using the app.
“So for the first five months we didn’t focus on getting customers on board, we focused on getting coffee shops on board and by the first six months we had more than 120 partnering with us.”
DripApp offers original plans (water-based drinks) and fancy plans (all kinds of drinks) with the option to buy unlimited coffee for £89 a month.
“The people who typically subscribe to the unlimited plans are those who drink coffee regularly, so usually freelancers, working staff, a few business people and small creative companies” says Ruben.
DripApp has partner coffee shops all over London and work out of Papilles in City Road, Shoreditch, and plans to be UK-wide before the end of next year.
“When you are a big concept in London and you go to somewhere like Oxford, all of them have really good coffee and most have big student communities so it makes sense to go there next,” says Jeremy
“You realise when you are selling coffee all day that there are different kinds of coffee: the coffee you get in the morning on the way to work, the coffee you get during the day when people are taking their lunch or cigarette break and the coffee you have during the weekend.
“We want to be better at the ones in the morning and at the weekend.”
Ruben and Jeremy hope that in time they will have created their own chain-like franchise of independent coffee shops, each connected through DripApp.
DripApp is available on iOS and Android.
To find out more visit dripapp.co