When’s the last time a store handed you a printed coupon for an alcohol rebate? And when’s the last time you actually spent the 47 cents on a stamp to mail it in and get $2 back? New Columbus-based app Bybe wants to bring the alcohol rebate process into the 21st century.
If you’ve ever downloaded a store-specific app, you’ve noticed alcohol is missing – that’s because it’s illegal for stores to have exclusive rebates; money-saving offers must be available statewide, explains Founder Drew Knight. Bybe works not in competition with in-store apps but alongside them to create an easier path for alcohol rebates.
“We can align with retailers and allow them to promote that savings opportunity and utilize the existing technologies without compromising other marketing,” Knight says.
On the customer side, it’s literally a three-click process to save money. A shopper opens an app to view valid rebates, purchases the corresponding alcohol, snaps a photo of their receipt and the barcode of the product, and viola! Instead of taking six weeks with mail-in rebates, a customer can have their cash back in just 48 hours.
Bybe has been refining their concept as a part of the first class of the Lumos accelerator. Knight and his Co-Founder Ryan Moore had knowledge of the industries pivotal to Bybe’s success, Knight spending time at Heidelberg Distributing and Moore at Giant Eagle.
“Although we were comfortable within the category, we’d never started a business,” Knight says. “We really liked the fact that Lumos was from entrepreneurs who had exited, who had worked with partners who were looking to be our customers, and they had strong connections in the industry we’re working in.”
Bybe had considered other accelerator opportunities, but a combination of Lumos’ ready connections and a strong retail industry in Columbus kept the startup in Central Ohio.
“We didn’t have to go anywhere to find the resources we needed to successfully launch,” Knight says.
During the accelerator, Bybe underwent a name change from Rebooze, and came out with a more polished product, Moore says. The process took the app and built a stronger business model around it. Mentors helped the founders reposition themselves in a way that better shows Bybe’s value to retailers and brands, and Zoco Design helped to build a brand around the name.
Bybe officially launched its money-saving application to the public on January 1. As it works to build relationships with large chain grocery stores, five independent retailers are promoting the technology, including: Arena Wine & Spirits, Campus Liquor, Chateau Wine & Spirits, Northwest Wine & Spirits and 1837 Wine & Spirits Emporium. Kahlua is the main savings on the app with 24 other brands expected to join the liquor over the next six months.
Bybe expects to not only drive traffic to stores with savings, but by promoting alcohol-centric events like wine tastings.
“We think there’s opportunity for reactionary technology that focuses on driving traffic to stores and creating an experiential events in-stores,” Knight says. “Then we create the tools for the brands and retailers to understand the impact of those events so they can make better data-driven decisions.”
Bybe is currently available on iOS with plans to add Android to the lineup over the next few months.
For more information, visit BYBE.io.