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Launch HN: Cloosiv (YC S19) – Order ahead from local coffee shops
101 points by timgriffin77 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 99 comments
We’re Tim and James and we’re building Cloosiv (https://cloosiv.com), an order-ahead app for independent coffee shops.

We started working on this because we believe that coffee is the most overlooked sub-vertical in retail. Coffee is the most repeated purchase that Americans make every day, with over 220M cups purchased daily at coffee shops, cafes, bakeries and diners. Starbucks is the largest chain, but they only process 2.5% of those daily sales. It’s the 50,000 independent merchants across the U.S. that sell the largest percentage. Starbucks' order-ahead app is actually the most-used mobile payment app in the US—more than Apple Pay and Google Pay. Their users know that they can use the same mobile app at any Starbucks location. But the rest of the market, the other 97.5%, haven’t had a similar option. We’re focused on providing that experience across independent coffee shops in the US.

We consider the two of us meeting as our luckiest milestone to date. James had set out to build his own development agency at the same time that Tim was looking for help building v1 of Cloosiv. We met on Upwork and quickly realized that our skillsets complimented each other. That contract was James’ first and last while running his own agency.

Since our initial launch in 2018, we’ve processed over 35,000 orders for $250,000+ in revenue on behalf of our coffee shop partners, with orders and volume growing 40% monthly. Our network includes over 200 local coffee shops, with another 150+ locations currently onboarding. We’ve been able to win these early customers by building our product alongside them. In addition to gaining their trust, this process has resulted in features that set us apart from incumbent ordering options. For example, our merchants can log in from any device and make on-the-fly changes. If they’ve run out of almond milk, they can remove that option with a single click, so that customers can’t order almond milk and be disappointed when they arrive.

We're sometimes asked: why is no one else doing this? There are many mobile ordering apps, but they've all but ignored the coffee market. This is probably because the average coffee receipt is so low in comparison to the merchants they typically support. Another reason is the level of specificity that’s required to win the support of coffee merchants, who are keenly aware of customer expectation when serving time-sensitive, hot-temperature items like espresso. It turns out that a good app for ordering pizza is not the same thing as a good app for ordering coffee. We’ve been able to win coffee shops by remaining focused on their market and its specific needs. This is an opportunity to build the most-used mobile payment option for the most commonly purchased commodity in the country.

Most of our current locations skew towards the east coast, because we’re based in Charlotte, NC and it’s where we gained initial traction. Our priority right now is to increase our presence on the west coast. If you wish your local coffee shop had an order ahead option, we’d really appreciate if you shared Cloosiv with them. We’re going to prioritize the most requested-by-HN shops for the next few weeks. You can submit a referral by clicking “Invite a Coffee Shop” on our website or in the app to get a $10 reward - mention Hacker News in the submission and we’ll do everything we can to get them on board!

We'd also love to hear your ideas and feedback about anything and everything in this space! If you want to check out the app, download Cloosiv on your Apple or Android device and if there’s a shop around you, enter promo code HN-2019 at checkout and get 50% off any item. Ok, that's all from us. Please share your thoughts and ask any questions you’d like.

I am not your target market, but holy shit, that's one heck of a write-up. I couldn't have been more "meh" seeing the title, but you sold me on everything—the size of a market, the growth, how you're doing no one else is and why it's an awesome opportunity. An amazing pitch. I hope you well for success.

Really appreciate the support!

> Starbucks is the largest chain, but they only process 2.5% of those daily sales.

Seriously shocking.

Same! I couldn't believe it either.

If you're interested, look into Luckin' Coffee too - their rise to power is remarkable.

I'm surprised they are so small. They feel like they are everywhere and doing a ton of volume. I always assumed they had 10%+ of global market share of coffee sales.

When we started I thought the same thing, but quickly came back to earth when the data highlighted just how much coffee people drink in other places (think diners, bakeries, cafes, etc.). In fact, McDonalds is the #1 global chain for coffee sales, because if there's one thing that people love more than coffee - it's cheap coffee!

Same. I almost want to launch a competing service now.

This isn't new. There are competitors in this space. Years ago I was using one called Hey You. I'm not sure about the USA though, maybe it doesn't exist there, or not at a national level.

I guess the issue is that to make such an app work you need to have a large network effect. If there aren't enough coffee shops on it I will never think about opening the app.

Yes. Well maybe.

Here is a brain dump:

I used a popular app in Sydney. Sydney loves it's coffee and coffee shops and people don't mind shelling out $5 for coffee, queuing for it but the coffee has to be good.

A lot of people will go to the same coffee shop every day, near where they work, or perhaps on one of the train stations on their way. So if just that coffee shop has the app supported it that might be all they need. A single coffee shop could have it's own app and be all good, in theory. Although people often need marketing and re-marketing to remember about the app. So seeing an ad for Cloosiv on the train, then seeing the sign at their local will help them adopt it. A free first coffee helps as well!

To use the app, you have to know what coffee shop you are going to in advance - so there is an element of habit by the users. If you are in a strange area and don't know where to get a coffee you'd probably walk in, by which time you probably are better of queuing although maybe the app is still faster. Unless you are using the app for discovery. If I am in a dense area I can find a coffee shop easily. But if all the coffee shops are listed and I am in a area with few shops it could be a useful way to find my nearest. But you'd need a lot of saturation for that - a bit like Uber has nowadays but not at the beginning.

Another aspect is the move towards bringing your own cup. This is awesome for the environment, assuming people aren't throwing away the permanent cups! Usually there is a small discount for BYO cup.

Hopefully it should cater for that, but to do so would require them waiting for you to appear before making your coffee - negating the speed benefit but there are other benefits such as loyalty points, not needing your wallet and so on.

Spot on - adding new shops is our primary focus right now, if you have a shop you go to a lot, telling them about Cloosiv would help a ton.

There are a bunch of them in Australia, where Hey You is based. I forget what most of the others are called.

It'll be interesting to see if the SV winner-takes-all in this niche comes and swallows them up.

I had the exact same thought lol. Great writeup!

This is exactly Ritual's (Toronto, Canada) schtick. Order ahead, start walking. Food will be ready when you arrive. There's no reason why you need to stick to coffee. I use Ritual to order from my favourite restaurant in the middle of a tourist attraction. The tourists wait 30+ minutes, and I can stroll up to the counter and grab my lunch and skip the line.

Ritual even tracks your location with GPS (if opt-in) and delays your order until the appropriate time.

The first time I used it, it was for a cappuccino. I walked into the store just as the barista was doing the art with the milk foam. 10/10 timing.

Square's now shuttered Order app [1] also used to offer just in time order preparation [2]:

> With the newest version of the app, Square will flip the model so that food will be prepared just in time for the customer arrive, thanks to a new arrival prediction feature. The technology is designed to track users as they approach a store they’ve ordered from and alert it when they’re nearby so an order can be made just in time.

> For the technology to work, sellers need to set preparation times for different items on their menu. The app then creates a sort of geofence around the business, and recognizes when a customer is nearby and someone should start on an order.

This worked particularly well for me every morning when I'd order a latte, it's great to see more businesses offer similar functionality.

[1] https://www.vox.com/2015/3/13/11560210/square-kills-square-o...

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2014/10/08/squares-order-app-arrival-...

You're right, there definitely isn't a need to stick to coffee - but the more we speak to owners, the more we realize how many coffee-specific features we could build to help them. We believe there's a big business supporting coffee specifically, but we'll never rule out expanding into other verticals.

I believe Ritual actually currently operates in a number of US markets, like Chicago https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/ritual-3

It looks like NYC, SF, and Chicago are the big places on their maps. Those seem to be walking cities, though.

Not sure how their business would translate to the midwest, where many of the cities are driving cities.

Depending on the location, it should probably just tell you driving duration instead of walking.

Ritual is one of the few apps that I really love.

+1 for Ritual.

The interface is a little clunky, but the service as a whole works really well. Order ahead, walk in to pick up.

Confirmed - at this point if it's not on Ritual (coffee, food, etc) I'm likely not getting it.

I appreciate the thorough write-up. Here are a few notes from a potential power user:

1) Your service is currently unusable for me because there are only two shops in SF both located in the Mission. As a general rule of thumb I have no interest traveling >= .25mi for coffee.

2) My average monthly spend is ~$150 of primarily take-out coffee split equally between SBux, Pete's, and other.

3) I'll never wait in a moderate or long line (>= 3 people)

4) I usually choose convenience over quality, for example I prefer Pete's coffee but the Starbuck's mobile app AND in-store pick-up process is so streamlined i'll often choose starbuck's (Pete's is catching up).

5) I'm increasingly using Postmates to pick-up coffee + breakfast at local places but not many storefronts list coffee on their mobile menu (even if they sell it).

6) I and many of my peers are trying to cut back on Coffee in lieu of lightly caffeinated teas and other drinks

7) I've yet to find a compelling rewards program that doesn't feel like a shitty mobile game on any of the ordering apps, they all seem to give extremely marginal benefits that masquerade as something significant and not worth my time - looking at you Starbucks app.

8) Though it looks a little raw your app sign-up process was really fluid


I'm really interested in following the biz-dev process behind a small start-up (that doesn't take on egregious funding) doing the raw canvassing needed to hit critical mass adoption of store fronts. If you can share, what is your methodology to reaching out to mom and pop's at scale?

Really appreciate this level of detail, all of this is really helpful.

In terms of biz-dev I'm happy to share, because it's been the definition of doing something that doesn't scale, but it's worked to this point. When we were getting started, our team + family and friends split up the task of pinning independent coffee shops on Google Maps, by using keyword searches like "local coffee," "espresso," etc. From there, we'd profile these locations by documenting their phone number and then searching the web for an e-mail address and (preferably) an owners name.

Once we had those email address, we'd setup sales campaigns to anywhere we had an e-mail address to - we still do this today.

In terms of our approach at scale, we're hyper-focused on partnerships and reputation. 1) partnering with company's like Square, Odeko and a number of roasters has allowed us to find customers in existing channels, avoiding the need to deploy a massive sales team (that requires egregious funding) to knock on doors 2) reputation is everything in coffee, and the more customers we add, the more referrals we get from existing locations.

Because we support a single vertical, having a few customers that love our product and are willing to voice that praise has gone a long way - our goal is to continue facilitating that level of enthusiasm, in order to grow.

My company does A LOT of coffee meetings and the actual ordering can be a bit awkward, usually someone senior pays and you get this sort of awkward exchange where the other person offers but then lets the first person pay anyways.

What about including it as a corporate benefit like Classpass where a company can pay for seats and then the seats can get coffee at various places as a benefit? Could definitely see it being a big hit and a much easier sales vertical because now you're pitching entire companies visiting a given shop instead of a single individual. I can dream :)

I think that's a great idea. Not surprising, but our highest volume tends to be at locations in or directly around large corporate offices. That and hospitals.

We'll definitely look into this, I appreciate the suggestion!

Do you expect apps like DoorDash and UberEats to offer coffee pick-up in the future? I know some stores already allow pick-up for orders.

I fully expect it, but our goal is for that not to matter by the time they do. Both of those co.'s recently announced features that directly compete with other startups: 1) Ubereats announced an order ahead and dine in option, the exact same feature that Allset built as a foundation 2) Doordash announced a group order feature, the exact same feature that Ritual built as a foundation

It's only a matter of time until they attempt to carve into another aspect of food ordering, but we're confident that if we stay focused on supporting our target market (coffee) and building the best possible product for that industry, it won't be a concern.

This sounds like a great idea and looks like a cool app so far. A desktop web app version would be nice to have.

One curious question would be how do you scale business onboarding with so many different coffee shops with subtly different menus?

> We're sometimes asked: why is no one else doing this? There are many mobile ordering apps, but they've all but ignored the coffee market.

There is also the Starbucks partnership with Uber Eats ("Starbucks Delivery") [1] in addition to the in-store pickup from the regular Starbucks app. What's your advantage if DoorDash enters or Uber Eats expands further into this market?

> You can submit a referral by clicking “Invite a Coffee Shop” on our website

I tried to submit a few referrals but didn't find this text anywhere to do it.

[1]: https://delivery.starbucks.com/

Thank you - and we definitely have a web app on the roadmap (ChowNow does this well).

We were able to solve the varying menus relatively quickly, because after building hundreds of them we realized how similar they were - just random variations of names, sizes, prices, etc. We built out a core menu with built-in descriptions for common items, and we just modify those based on what shops want.

In terms of incumbents, to be honest we haven't spent much time worrying about this. If they build something to compete, so be it. The only thing in our control is how we build the product and network at this point, so we're staying focused on that!

Sorry about the mixup, I had mistakenly changed the link the app was redirecting to, but it should be fixed now. Regardless, you can submit referrals here (https://www.cloosiv.com/invite-a-brand)

Aren’t coffee shops just seeing this as yet another PoS or interface to manage? How are you making this easy to integrate into mom and pop shop processes?

Struggle to see how you can scale without nailing that!

Really good point, scaling around existing tech has been a focus for us since day one. Of the 300+ shops that have committed to using Cloosiv, 90% of them are on Square. This makes the upfront work easier, because they can just run our merchant app in the background of their iPad.

As we scale, it'll be important for us to integrate directly into software like Square (which we're currently working on, we're partnered with them), so shops can just install the Cloosiv app from their terminal and have orders and reporting flow through the existing software in place.

Awesome, sounds promising then! Thanks

I’m always stoked to see scrappy, consumer-focused startups from N.C. on HN. There are dozens of us! I’m excited to see the scene grow.

Thank you - the startup community in N.C. is small, but that also means it's supportive!

Square really tried to make this work with Square Order - for a while the explicit focus was on coffee. Unfortunately that wasn't successful in getting the usage numbers hoped for, and was eventually shut down. I hope you're able to make it work but this gives me a bit of deja vu.

Yep - they tried to build it twice I think. We were worried about that when we started, because we knew a partnership with them would be helpful. After working with them for a while now, I think it's clear they still believe in the opportunity.

In terms of why it didn't work out, I think there are two factors to consider:

1) it wasn't their flagship product 2) they had a capped market of support. In essence, they could only build a network of locations within their existing ecosystem, and despite that being large, it wouldn't be big enough to win the space.

I think a 3rd party is most likely to succeed here, because we can facilitate integrations with all of the POS providers, and build a really big network that way.

As someone who worked at Square, my impression at the time was that the problem was lower than expected engagement with the order functionality at existing locations, which made it hard to show the value proposition (I didn't work on Order but it was a small company). I'm not sure failing to be a flagship product caused the problem, Square has other products (e.g. Caviar, which people often don't know belongs to Square) that have succeeded. This despite Order having a decent UX and some interesting features like arrival prediction.

Really great insight! Caviar is a good example of how a hybrid approach can work, especially to your point that most people don't recognize that Square owns it. Perhaps branding played into the decision, but they shut it down just after acquiring Caviar, which makes sense.

Congrats Tim & James on the Product Hunt launch today! This is a very powerful solution for independent coffee shops to access similar demand-side market effects to Starbucks - I could imagine you doing the same for the supply-side for them eventually too with increasing purchasing power on behalf of the independents.

I'd love to chat - I run a menu data company (Woflow) that could help you onboard these coffee shops quicker as well as add a lot of coffee shops on the west coast. We work with other YC companies too. will[at]woflow[dot]com

Appreciate the support. We've definitely looked into the supply-side, and we actually partner with a company (odeko) that does a great job at this. Always open to improving our onboarding process, I'll check out what you're building!

Awesome, good luck with fielding questions and comments for the rest of today!

Perhaps OT but how did you arrive at

>over 220M cups purchased daily at coffee shops, cafes, bakeries and diners. Starbucks is the largest chain, but they only process 2.5% of those daily sales.

220M is quite a lot for a single day, representing about 1 cup per day for roughly 80-90% of adults in the US. I could believe this if the statistic were "brewed" and included coffee bought in bulk from supermarkets/other suppliers and brewed at home or the office. Even if this metric is using "cup" as a unit of volume and not a single sale (since a venti coffee at starbucks is many cups) it still seems very high to me.

I guess this question is at least somewhat relevant since it's how you're pitching your app to investors and represents the size of the addressable market.

One other question: how do you plan to address competition from non-specialized food-ordering apps? My understanding is that food delivery/takeout and other order-ahead services often include exclusivity deals, and I could see many cafes and diners opting to choose a non-optimized ordering experience that allows them to sell and deliver food over one that primarily focuses on coffee.

Good questions all around! What's surprising is that the 220M figure only accounts for daily purchases. Americans actually drink over 400M cups of coffee every day. A cup is definitely an odd metric to measure by, it's just the simplest term to define a coffee or espresso-based drink.

To clarify, this is measuring the U.S.-only, the global market is obviously much larger. I know it may seem high, but it's a lot easier to put into perspective that the average American over 18 years old drinks 2 cups of coffee per day.

In terms of competition, because coffee is just now warming up to the concept of pick-up, and the majority of the order-ahead market is delivery-focused, we are at an advantage for optimizing that pick up experience and gaining traction from there. We partner with shops that offer every mobile ordering service, we partner with others that only want one - it'll certainly be something we keep an eye on as we grow.

Can you say where you got the figure though, like which source or report?

Ah, sorry about that. Yeah there are quite a few stats maintained on the ssca.org website. Harvard also maintains statistics about coffee consumption, and Huffington Post did a big expose on it, as well. There's also a lot of good information from the National Restaurant Association, Statista, Mordor Intelligence and Mintel.

Looks like you got the Hug of Death already :(

Cached version: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:g5z4hq...

Thanks for letting us know - should be up again!

Still down for me

I order 2 coffees about 3 times a week through chownow, which has partnered with a local "chain" that has about 6 locations.

My feedback to you is: if I had to download an app, I would not have bothered. A super functional mobile webapp is a must, especially for first-time use. Chownows mobile and desktop sites work great. OTOH, I feel like the dominos app burned me with advertisments so I uninstalled - I think you should be really weary of opt-out notifications.

I don't even really mind the chownow $0.50 upcharge, because I'm pretending that otherwise my local coffee company is getting the full value.

You have stiff competition. You sound super motivated and I wish you good luck. I have friends and family in Charlotte so I'd definitely try your platform given the opportunity :)

I noticed a $0.40 service fee on each payment. I understand why you're doing this (fixed payment processor fee), but you could be a bit smarter about it.

For example, eat it on the first order to validate the payment method and reduce a bit of risk. Then on subsequent orders, don't bill the card immediately. Allow the customer some amount of credit based on e.g. how many previous orders they have paid for successfully and the age of their account.

Once you've reached your threshold for whatever amount the user is allowed to buy before you bill, you then bill the card and send a receipt with the orders you've just charged for.

This will take some work, but it will reduce the friction of users seeing that fee on checkout.

Really great suggestion, definitely something we could do in the future. We just rolled that service fee out this week, so we're watching it closely. Right now, we offer 5 free purchases regardless of how the user pays, but something that's already clear is that we'll need to remove it from the stored balance reload.

As we add payment options like ACH, PayPal, etc. we'll have more wiggle room to adjust the fee based on the final payment method, and establishing a running total like you suggest could increase that variability even more.

If you want to push your app's wallet (for cash-flow, loyalty, interest margin), you could offer additional reward bonuses for larger reloads.

i.e. a $10 reload gets no bonus, but a $30+ reload gets an extra dollar in rewards.

Presumably you've already seen the CUPS coffee app, but check it out if you haven't. They're dead as a company now from what I can tell, but they had a very streamlined experience. They even tried a fixed price model where each vendor would receive a fixed payment for each cup users redeemed and users would subscribe to a plan with a certain number of cups a month.

Completely agree - definitely a feature, we're building (Bird as a great UX for this, if you haven't seen it).

Also familiar with CUPS, subscription plans were/are such a gamble for shops, but I can see why it was tempting to try. I think they're still operating in some capacity, but they definitely have a limited consumer presence.

I think you're going to hit difficulties getting most local coffeeshops onboard. Unless there is a brand of local coffeeshop I am not familiar with, and it's probable that this in-between brand exists in cities without much space and more of a focus on pumping out volume, most local coffeeshops identify with the opposite of this ethos. They are focused on the experience of being in the coffeeshop and standing as a clear contrast to everything that chains like Starbucks and Dunkin offer. Namely an emphasis on quality and "realness".

I know many a coffeeshop owner whose immediate response to being pitched this would be "Starbucks already exists".

Completely agree with a lot of your points, we run into coffee shops every day that are hesitant to offer something like this. That said, resigning themselves to the fact that a chain exists is a surefire way to go out of business. Most of the shops we speak with are actively looking for ways to maintain the quality you've noted, while simultaneously attracting more customers.

In terms of scale, we're asked about fragmentation a lot. Chains like Starbucks and Dunkin' will never use Cloosiv, but there's no reason to believe that as our network grows, that we can't support large regional chains (Joe Muggs, Dollop) and even national chains (Caribou, La Colombe, etc.).

For now, we're hyper-focused on building out that network, by adding any interested shop as quickly as possible. That may appear fragmented across the country, but as we increase our speed we'll be able hit a critical mass quickly.

I think your points of targetting large regional chains and not-Starbucks national chains are great. I think you may achieve more impactful market acquisition there.

> resigning themselves to the fact that a chain exists is a surefire way to go out of business

Saying this to a local coffeeshop is a surefire way to get them to not only not listen to you, but to tell all their friends about how much you suck. This is absolutely wrong. This may work in selling to someone struggling, but the very fact that any other solidly-in-business coffeeshop exists proves your argument quite obviously incorrect.

Sorry about that, I didn't do a great job of clarifying. What I meant to say is that we haven't encountered that type of pushback nearly as much as we anticipated. Owners tend to understand the concept and most are interested in improving their competitive advantage. The primary concerns we face are around fulfillment and customer expectation, but we'll likely continue to run into more shops that are simply uninterested in this sales channel.

At first I was holyshit not another toy-app startup, but the scientific method the founder used here is pretty mindblowing, we take coffee each day and never realise the economics and science behind it :)

Thank you, appreciate it!

Kind of surprised this is a thing: seems like showing up with a 5$ bill or credit card and getting coffee and change back (whether from a human or from a coffee vending machine) would be a fine process.

If one is a regular coffee drinker and finds that inefficient, buying a coffee machine for home/work seems like a better solution than attempting to "order ahead" and still having to physically get to the coffee shop.

Obviously this app might still have some marginal utility, maybe enough to be a viable business.

I'm a regular coffee drinker, so it makes no suggest I go home and make a coffee several times a day when I'm out maybe 30 miles from home. I think people who can make coffee at home aren't going to forget that just because this service is available.

The idea of ordering in advance then picking it up sounds fine to me for when I know - or suspect -there'll be a queue. Also, you'd be surprised how often I get asked my name when i'm ordering, but when the drink is ready they just shout out "grande latte" which is often what more than 1 person has ordered so it causes confusion/grabbiness. Ordering in advance would seem to make it more likely they'll put a name down, though I could be wrong.

My only problem with this service is that I already tried it (Costa do this in the UK) but they'll just chuck your coffee away (without a refund) if you don't get there within 15 minutes of ordering; it's likely I'll be using public transport to get around and you just can't rely on that so unless I order as I walk down the street - perhaps stopping, to be safe - I'm in danger of losing my money, and I'm better off just ordering when I get there.

Oh, and you need a web-page for this - I don't really install apps any more, as they're like web-pages I can't block the trackers/javascript etc of.

2 years ago I would have agreed with you, and to a point I still do - it seems like it would be simple to just walk in with cash and walk out with a coffee. But, it's undeniable how willing customers are to avoid friction, especially when they haven't had any caffeine yet.

Also, Starbucks is on pace to process over 15% of their annual revenue through their mobile app this year, it's by far the most popular payments app in the U.S. and shows no signs of slowing down.

If you don't want to wait or make your own coffee, this seems like a great choice.

Clearly Starbucks has already proved out the viability with its order-ahead app, and like they say, that only represents 2.5% of the coffee market.

They did a great job of explaining why this is an interesting place to bring a solution. It just seems like such a low barrier of entry that I imagine competitors will spring up quickly, just like other order-ahead, delivery, and rewards apps of the past.

Certainly a low barrier of entry, but there are two things we keep in mind -

1) we don't think this is a winner take all market 2) but if it were, the strongest network will win

At this stage, it's about building the largest network as quickly as possible.

Got a 404 when clicking invite a coffee shop in Android app

Update: fixed - thank you!

Thanks for letting us know! You can refer a shop using this link - https://www.cloosiv.com/invite-a-brand

> We're sometimes asked: why is no one else doing this?



If you live in the Seattle area, check out Joe. They cover most of the local independent chains and are expanding really quickly.

Sorry if it’s a detail not connected to you, but how easy is it to order a drink to be put in the customers reusable container?

Definitely important, thanks for asking. We haven't solved for this yet, a couple ideas weren't well received by owners. I think when we roll out a user profile option, we can start introducing some sort of tagging system to associate a number of different solutions for things like student/military discounts and reusable cups (i.e. pay on the app, get the drink when you arrive.

Another option that will roll out soon will be issuing a card that can be used in digital wallets like Apple/Google Pay. One of the best ways the delivery apps (DoorDash, Postmates, etc.) gained traction was not having to ask permission to list places like Starbucks on their app. They could get traction at a location and use it win sales with big brands. By releasing a card payment option, we'll be able to effectively do the same thing.

Oh man please take over for Gregory's Coffee in NYC. LevelUp is a pretty bad UX experience.

We'd love to work with Gregory's! Feel free to tell them about Cloosiv and send a referral through.

Very interested in this. As a web developer and the owner of a coffee house, I have been planning to build something like this integrated with Square. This may save me time and money.

Glad to hear it - feel free to shoot me a note with any questions - tpg (at) cloosiv dot com

How it works for cafés? They must own an iPad / Computer, or you provide with the PoS?

Good question. Most of the shops we work with use a POS system on a tablet like an iPad, so they just use the Cloosiv Merchant app to field orders. If they don't have a tablet or phone we offer them a tablet they can use while they're accepting Cloosiv. In the future, it's our goal to complete integrations with the major POS providers so any shop can use the app.

How does this differ from offerings like ToastTab or other modern POS services?

Good question - we're actually focused on partnering with company's like Toast, Square, etc. Software like that is more robust than a single feature like order-ahead, they run the entire operation (point of sale, inventory, employee management, etc.). By partnering with them, we make it easier for shops to accept Cloosiv without needing additional hardware or software.

Congrats on the launch. How can I see whether you are in my neighborhood without first installing the app, accepting the t&c's, creating an account (and in the process giving you my email address)?

Thanks! It's not super obvious (working on a redesign), but you can tap on the "explore" button from the homepage to take a look at the app without creating an account.

Cool. This is very similar to Ritual, but they do restaurants as well.

Yeah, I love Ritual for ordering - the bonus points system is great as it's real cash back - similar to the star quests on Starbucks app which get a little addictive.

This is great! I much prefer coffee from the local shop but my routine always seems to go back to Starbucks/Dunks because it's so much faster and easier to order ahead.

Thanks for sharing, this is a sentiment shared by a lot of people. We used to do events at some of our early shops, and I lost count of how many customers said this to the owners of the shop, it really helps when they hear this from people they could sell more coffee to.

Oh hey, I'm an engineer in Charlotte! Have you guys talked to Amelie's yet?

Hey - very cool!

We've made several attempts to work with them, but it hasn't panned out. Feel free to give them a nudge, and you should try out the app at any of the other shops in the area, it's our most dense region in terms of locations.

>We started working on this because we believe that coffee is the most overlooked sub-vertical in retail.

Do you have some data to back up this assertion? It feels like this quote came right out of "Silicon Valley."

Edited to add, And then the next question is, if it really is ignored, are you sure it isn't that the market has just decided that Starbucks and Dunkin have won?

Totally fair. It's primarily because of how many cups of coffee are consumed every day, and how few of the existing mobile ordering apps have coffee shops as an option. The regularity of the purchase and the popularity of the Starbucks app both point to the opportunity for us.

I see it as you're selling to a shrinking market.

That, and the market has been moving towards delivery, think grub hub, Amazon. So why should I use your app when I can get my coffee delivered?

>I see it as you're selling to a shrinking market.

I'd respectfully disagree. Food delivery is a huge and growing market but it has also bred a whole new ecosystem of other ways of thinking about on-demand food consumption. There are a bunch of companies that have raised a lot to tackle niches within the industry such as Ritual (lunch pick-up, raised $113M), Allset (order ahead to sit down at a restaurant and pay in-app, raised $8M). Uber Eats just started offering a dine-in option and DoorDash and Postmates also now offer pick-up. These are all value add in cities and dense areas.

We certainly keep an eye on delivery apps, but we didn't start gaining traction until we solved for customer expectation issues that owners were worried about. They're primarily concerned with making sure the latte you order is still hot when you get it, and as skeptical as they are about order ahead and pick up, they won't even consider delivery.

I appreciate this, I really do. But that is a problem that could be solved by just adding more Starbucks and Dunkins, who already have their own platform.

I travel a lot. And one of the unsung features of the Starbucks app, is that the density of stores and the app means I'm never more than 15 minutes away from a consistent coffee experience.

I also did exactly what you were doing back in 2012ish. We even had an app. I thought preordering was going to be the next awesome thing.

It turns out that not waiting 5 minutes for your order kinda leaves out the whole experience of talking to the barista, getting that smile at 6am when you're not feeling it yourself, and the personal experience of the hand crafted beverage. My barista knows my name and my order.

And you know how often I use the mobile ordering feature of the Starbucks app? Like 3 times, and only when the line was really long.

Now if you wanted to create a niche market of curated handcrafted delicious coffee from friendly independent baristas, that's an app I might be more inclined to use.

I completely agree on density, it's the foundation of our pitch really - the more shops that are available on Cloosiv, the better the experience. It's exactly why Starbucks and Dunkin' have such high adoption on their apps.

I also like your example about the hand crafted experience, and I agree - in a lot of ways that's desired from the customers that seek out local shops.

That said, we've interviewed hundreds of people (customers, random strangers, etc.), and it's clear that they'd go to their local shop more often if this were an option. It doesn't mean that they'll use Cloosiv for every visit, but if we can be there when they don't have a lot of time, that's a win for the coffee shop and the customer.

Hey, so I wanted to do some digging and dig into some questions I had about this space. This is what I found.


These are the #1 and #2 reasons given in the survey that coffee shops fail out of a survey of 232 former coffee shop owners:

    Unprepared for business ownership – 128 responses
    No Distinct Brand / Experience – 94 responses
So it's clear to me that the "Independent Coffee" sub vertical is struggling. Further I'd worry that "Cloosiv" (and this would be true with "Grubhub") dilutes brands if they're not already strong. The distinct brand / experience goes away when every independent coffee shop has the same app for order ahead that the others do. Instead of the "Stomping Grounds" ordering experience, you get the Cloosiv ordering experience for "Stomping Grounds".

With GrubHub, your customer has no personal experience anymore with your store, employees, or brand. Instead, you get a GrubHub employee (hopefully not too grubby) and trust that your customer experience / brand is handled by the delivery person -- something which is completely out of your control.

So one way to think of this is that the independent coffee shop market is a scourge to investment opportunities and you should pivot off coffee shops ASAP.

Another way to think of this is that the independent coffee market is the right market, but the ordering ahead app is not the solution they need. They need strong branding.

> It turns out that not waiting 5 minutes for your order kinda leaves out the whole experience of talking to the barista, getting that smile at 6am when you're not feeling it yourself, and the personal experience of the hand crafted beverage.

I'm pretty sure you're in minority wanting this though. I absolutely dread getting too personal with my barista, to the point that I start going to another place if they recognize me. If I could choose I would not exchange a single word with them. Even saying what I want is too much.

Believe it or not, a lot of people see going to coffee shops as a social experience. My SO works at a Starbucks and the amount of people that come in on a daily basis just to get human contact is very surprising.

Maybe it is a cultural habit.

Here in Italy, you normally drink coffe at home before leaving for work.

Then, later in the morning you want to go to a bar to get a coffee (even if every office/shop has a coffee machine of this or that kind) usually with one or two colleagues, essentially because it is a way to make a short pause, have a quick stroll, talk with the colleagues about non-work arguments, have some interaction with the barista and/or the cashier.

Exceptionally, i.e. - as an example if there is a meeting - someone calls the bar (of which the phone number is known of course) and orders the needed coffees (and pastry/whatever) and either someone from the office goes and gets them or a barista brings them up (this depends a lot on the city/village).

Apart the above exception here having a coffee is more a ritual for having a pause mid-work, making it more "efficient" wouldn't probably work.

Super cool, can I ask what your tech stack is?

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