I guess it was inevitable that sooner or later some enterprising, tech savvy entrepreneur would figure out a way to utilize modern mobile technology to ply a generations old pick-up tactic. BarEye, a social nightlife app that helps you purchase drinks at partner bars, is expanding after its pilot in Tallahassee to five major U.S. cities: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and Austin. After downloading the BarEye app, a user can buy drinks for friends through Facebook or to anyone checked in to a BarEye bar and even include a message to say congratulations, happy birthday or to start a conversation. The app is meant to make ordering and sending drinks simple and accessible to today’s bar patrons, who are all equipped with smartphones.
Bars that elect to use BarEye pay $200 for the service and co-founder Andrew Bennett says he is confident he can sign on a large amount of bars for free through franchisees, each of which will manage about 100 bars in a given location, and negate the need to scale sales and marketing teams. “Relative to the market, less than one percent of bars have anything like this, so it’s wide open. So it’s really about finding a way to scale, and we really think that the franchise model is the way it can be done,” Bennett says.
Some bar-owners are a little skeptical because the app is a revolutionary way of generating revenue or attracting patrons into their establishments, but operators catering to the 21-25 year old segment see the new app as a way to further attract and engage smartphone drunk consumers. There are several other apps trying to do the same thing, but all are still limited to one specific market. Both Gratafy and BuzzMe take the concept of BarEye one step further by allowing users to order appetizers and other menu items for friends, as well as drinks. BarEye founders feel as though they can gain a significant edge on any up-and-coming competition by achieving quick adoption in large cities.
If successful in accomplishing wide-spread availability the new apps may well change the social pick-up dialog for future generations. Imagine hearing, “Have I met your smart phone before?” or “May my mobile device buy your mobile device a drink?” Somehow for many “Baby Boomers” and “Millennials”, who are well experienced in the art of gadfly chatter, it just will never be as romantic as “Say, Have we met before?”