One Chicago tech entrepreneur has a plan to help the both of you get a jump start on the Chicago bars and restaurants with free drinks. Chicago-based “BarPass” is a social happy hour app that allows attendees to receive complimentary drinks and exclusive specials,” said founder and CEO Phil Castro. Download APP HERE “You can bring clients and friends, and they’ll receive the same perks that you do.”
Having previously run businesses in the promotion and events industry, Castro has a lot of experience working with bars and restaurants to bring more customers in the door. But after getting involved in the Chicago startup scene and seeing the impact tech companies can have, he started toying around with ideas for using tech to make his event promotions business more scalable. Castro started working on BarPass immediately after Chicago’s ban on drink specials got lifted in the summer of 2015. “I was working on a different startup when I heard the news, and within a week I had shut that business down and started this one,” he said. “I’m very glad that I did, because it’s been moving in the right direction.” Check ’em out on Twitter
Currently in closed beta, BarPass works with more than 50 Chicago venues to put on happy hour events on a rotating basis. For a typical three-hour event, BarPass will get users the first drink free of charge, with additional discounts and specials for the remainder. By next year, Castro hopes to put on daily events across numerous Chicago neighborhoods.
The free drinks part may sound too good to be true, but Castro said that because drinks are low-cost, high-margin items, the model actually makes a lot of sense for bar owners. “A lot of people come for the discovery aspect, so they’re discovering that the bar exists and they may come back,” he said. “With those three-hour events, our partners are also seeing an increase of anywhere from 20 percent to 70 percent in drink sales. And it creates a better vibe as well.
As a consumer, you don’t want to show up at a place with four people in it.” BarPass also helps users organize their own happy hours. After RSVPing at a participating venue, a user can invite friends or colleagues from their contact list via text message. Users who accept the invitation receive free drinks or discounts, and the app keeps a personal guest list for the event.
“It’s basically a much more seamless way to organize a happy hour after work, because you don’t have to check your social media, email and text messages to try and figure out who’s going and who isn’t,” said Castro.
Available both for individuals and employers, BarPass is currently free for the users in its private beta. Castro said he plans to switch to paid subscriptions as the app nears its official launch. In addition to increasing its footprint in Chicago, Castro plans to expand BarPass to other cities as well. He is currently in dialogue with investors about raising a seed round to support that expansion.