LinkedIn has afforded me the opportunity to expand the scope of my network. Consequently, I have met and connected with people who are refreshingly entrepreneurial in their thinking. One individual is the Founder of Beer2Buds.com, Libby Tucker.
“If I had to guess, social commerce is the next area to really blow up.”
– Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).
I am not sure when the founder of Facebook made this comment, but after a quick review of the numbers, I realize social commerce is in the midst of a boom. Analysts are projecting social couponing will reach $3.5 billion by 2012, virtual goods $2.5 billion by 2013 and mobile couponing spending $6.5 billion by 2103. A unique social commerce business in the foodservice industry is Beer2Buds.com which is now active in 21 US cities. Beer2Buds.com is even available in three European cities as well as three South American locations. It is real simple, you select an amount of beer money by using a credit card or PayPal, load up your friend’s contact information complete with a note. Your friend then receives a message via email or text linked to a Drink Your Beer page where they receive their drink card which they can either print or save on their smartphone to redeem at a participating restaurant or bar. Oh yes, don’t forget your ID.
I recently caught up with Libby Tucker, the founder of this innovative concept.
How did you conceive the idea of Beer2Buds?
Back in 2001 when I was working in Milwaukee, I received an email from my Swedish friend Mattias whom I met when I studied abroad. It was a short note to say he missed our time together with a picture of a beer. Instantly I had a very powerful memory of all the great times and laughs Mattias and I shared, usually over a few beers. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we recaptured those memories even if we were thousands of miles apart! What if, for his birthday or his wedding later in the year, I could send him a beer to say congratulations or just to say remember when. That’s how the concept for Beer2Buds was born.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced as you grow your company?
Great question! Too many! Regulations come to the top of the list, since alcohol laws vary by state. It is even more complicated overseas since there are additional currency and money laundering regulations. Funding is always a challenge. We have operated over the years on a bootstrap budget which sometimes impedes our progress of scaling up. We also have some well funded competitors which always make life interesting. There have been some technical challenges too, but I do not want to bore you.
Who were big influences for you?
My grandfather was a huge influence. Even though he passed away when I was only six months old, his legacy has pushed me to both adventure and entrepreneurship. In business it has been two technology pioneers, Paul Graham and Steve Blank.
Switching reels – I know you like to travel. When did you first catch the travel bug?
When I was 20 years old I went to study abroad in Spain. I immediately felt I had found my true calling, travel. I fell in love with learning new languages, new cultures and realized that real learning came from experiencing life. Less influential and less of an impact are books and classrooms. Then I came back to the States, worked in International Marketing before making the transition into the computer world. That is when I realized with the advent of the Internet, specifically eCommerce, I could begin to travel again, experience more languages and cultures, visit my friends and build a business at the same time. My passion is to evolve into The Anywhere Professional, the title of my blog.