Houston—Joining the swelling ranks of booze delivery companies nationwide is HopDrop, which begins a beta launch Friday.
The Houston-based startup’s focus is connecting customers with local craft breweries, delivering suds to certain Houston zip codes upon request, within an hour.
“Our niche is that the beer we have, you can’t get in a supermarket,” says co-founder Mike Francis. “It’s hard to find independent, craft beer.”
What HopDrop does, he says, is bring those breweries to you.
Currently, the website features nine Houston breweries offering 11 styles of beer, including Kolsch, a few styles of IPAs, and a stout, among others. On-demand orders of the 32-ounce cans cost $5.99, plus the cost of the beer. Customers can also choose to make scheduled orders, which cost $3.99, in addition to beer charges. Francis said that the startup is also offering subscriptions through which HopDrop would, based on customer preferences, create a custom collection of brews for free delivery.
Customers can place orders through the startup’s app or website. HopDrop has what Francis calls “mobile warehouses,” trucks that can be dispatched to places of high demand. Uber-style drivers then pick up orders from those trucks and make deliveries. Francis says HopDrop makes its money from the delivery fees and the difference between the wholesale price it pays the breweries and the retail prices charged to customers.
An important facet for companies like these is the technology used to organize deliveries in a timely fashion. Francis says HopDrop uses both existing software, such as an Uber-like program that coordinates drivers’ routes, and a customer-facing app, which Francis says he designed.
Francis says he believes the startup’s focus on craft beer helps it stand out among the growing number of food and beverage delivery companies—such as Grubhub and UberEats—operating in Texas. Last year, Philadelphia-based goPuff launched its alcohol delivery service, goBooze, in Austin.
Right now, HopDrop’s service is only available in four Houston zip codes, but Francis says he hopes to further expand in the greater Houston metro area next year. The founders invested $50,000 of their own money into operations and are considering seeking outside investment next year to support expansion, Francis says.
The inspiration for starting the service came from each of the three founders’ own experiences, Francis says. “I live in [the Houston suburb of] Katy; I have three kids,” he says. “It’s difficult for me to go visit any of the breweries that we have in Houston whenever I want.”
HopDrop, he says, helps to solve that problem. Now, we’ll see if other locals decide to drink up.