In an effort to encourage the Omaha community to support and experience the local dining scene, four friends teamed up to launch Tippl, a mobile app that offers a free drink to members when they visit an affiliated location.
Co-founders Michael Friedman, Taylor Darlington, Mark Wong and Matt Moore, who met as undergrads at Hastings College, combined their various business backgrounds to develop the idea during the first wave of the pandemic when the bar and restaurant industry was hit hard. The goal was to offer an incentive to motivate individuals to interact in the community once it was safe to do so.
How it Works
The Tippl platform is simple, according to Friedman. After downloading the app, members pay $1 for the first month on a trial run basis, and then $5 each month after. Users create a profile, select a participating location based on their geographical positioning, visit the bar or restaurant, and simply present their phone screen to redeem a free drink.
The app then time stamps the transaction and locks the user from redeeming another drink at that same location for 14 days, as well as at any participating location for 24-hours in an attempt to discourage “bar hopping.” However, the following day, another free drink is available to redeem at a different affiliated business.
“This means for the price of one drink, a person can essentially receive 30 drinks a month,” Friedman said. “We are offering a service that opens the doors and allows people to experience, enjoy and embrace local business. The app keeps people actively participating and it’s a means to go out and explore new areas they might not be aware of. Then, it’s up to individual restaurants and bars to charm the customers into coming back regularly.”
Partnering with Tippl is free of charge for businesses, which Friedman said is another example of the service’s commitment to strengthening the local economy. The app also showcases information about the participating businesses – like upcoming activities or specialty foods.
Prior to launching the app, the co-founders sent out various polls to determine how to change the behavior of people and encourage going back to physical locations after the pandemic.
“We found out that individuals wanted a catch-free alcoholic beverage,” Friedman said. “So we thought, ‘Why not create a mobile app that’s easy for anyone to get their hands on in order to help promote local businesses and get people back in their doors?’ Essentially, we wanted to offer it in a way to get the entire community participating.
“The data shows that people who go to get an alcoholic beverage are 90% likely to get a second drink. That means there’s a 90% chance a business is still going to turn a profit even after giving away a free drink. Additionally, 65% are more likely to order an appetizer or food. Not to mention, if people are also coming in that were previously unaware of the business prior to utilizing the app, they are now going to the establishment and will potentially come back again in the future. All of this helps to promote business.”
Impacting Future Neighborhoods
Meeting business people throughout the community has proven to be one of the most gratifying aspects to this endeavor, Friedman said.
“The rewarding part is definitely interacting with the community more, especially during these times, which is really what we wanted — to re-establish a sense of community,” Friedman said. “We’ve met so many people, received lots of ideas, and interacted with media outlets. It’s been such a fun experience to bring the community together and learn about what everyone else is involved in at this level.
“We’re just enjoying the ride and trying to help people out. It’s equally rewarding to know there’s some value that people have already been seeing in our product.”
Friedman said local businesses are excited about this opportunity because they see the value when they witness customers coming in, redeeming a drink, staying for another drink, and then bringing in friends during their next visit.
Alongside building up the brand name, Friedman said the focus is on helping out as many bars and restaurants as possible by getting more members of the community out there to show support.
“We love to hear that the product has worked as intended,” Friedman said. “That validation shows that our idea wasn’t silly and is actually working. Looking forward, we really want to get more partner locations across a greater geographical spread of Omaha, as well as different types of locations, to appease as many people as we can.”