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New app to make imbibing a breeze in St. Pete

Mark Parker



A recent concert at Jannus Live. The founder of a new app believes St. Petersburg's entertainment and tech culture make it the ideal market. Photos by Mark Parker.

A recent trip to St. Petersburg for a startup pitch event, followed by downtown’s First Friday revelry, convinced Steven Rehrig that he found the ideal market to establish his new app.

Rehrig launched Bibe in early May, a mobile application best described as Uber Eats for bartenders and their patrons. A beta version is available in the Apple and Google Play stores, and a resort in Kissimmee and a few bars near his home in Sanford – roughly midway between Orlando and Daytona Beach – utilize the platform.

The app enables customers to order drinks through their phones and skip long lines. It also guarantees tips and increases efficiency for busy bartenders.

“We’re still trying to figure out our target market,” Rehrig said. “I’m seeing it more at high-volume resorts, places that put on shows and have entertainment, pool parties and things like that.”

Steven Rehrig, founder of Bibe.

He said the recently launched app has found the most success at Secrets Hideaway, a resort and entertainment venue south of Orlando in Kissimmee. Rehrig noted that Bibe allows patrons to order and pay for drinks from the pool during “massive” events.

Rehrig plans to officially enter the St. Petersburg market by early July. His local team includes Scott Kelly, CEO of Black Dog Venture Partners.

Rehrig devised the idea for Bibe as he finished grad school at Stetson University. Matt Howard, vice president of business development for Black Dog, was a classmate.

The two remained friends after graduation, and Howard introduced Rehrig to Kelly, who recently partnered with Bibe. “I think it would be awesome in St. Pete,” Rehrig said.

“Imagine you’re there on the First Friday of the month, everyone’s bar hopping, and you can have your order ready to go before you ever walk in,” he added. “It’s a good demographic for us – younger people, tech-savvy and a lot of new people coming in there.”

Kelly now owns a “small stake” in the company and dedicated six people to helping it establish a local presence at downtown bars, venues and festivals. Meetings with owners and organizers are ongoing, and he said the team would soon launch a “series of Bibe parties” with drink specials and promotions.

Kelly also believes Bibe aligns with the city’s entertainment and tech culture. He expects a launch party at a prominent Central Avenue bar in the next two or three weeks.

“When we went to First Friday, they loved it,” Kelly said. “A bunch of kids walking the street downloaded the app, and then we met with five or six bars there. I just thought it was a no-brainer for the nightlife in St. Pete.”

The app has three separate interfaces for customers, bartenders and managers. Bibe is free to use, and the company charges a service fee that is then split with the participating establishment.

Bars list menus, and patrons can customize their drinks. They pay through a linked credit or debit card, and bartenders receive the order through a tablet.

A screengrab of Bibe’s various user interfaces.

Rehrig noted that many bars are only open to people 21 and older. The app will also remind people to have their ID ready when picking up drinks, like ordering alcohol from Uber Eats.

Users receive updates and notifications to pick up their orders. Bibe covers related transaction fees. “We’re technically paying them (establishments) 3%,” Rehrig said.

The app includes a minimum 18% gratuity, which patrons can increase. Bibe ensures customers do not skip out on their check or tipping – or forget their debit card at the bar.

Like many people after a long night, Rehrig said he often forgot to close his tab. “I’d have to run back the next day, and then have no idea what the bartender added on there,” he added.

Rehrig said Bibe would offer exclusive drink specials for partner venues. New users will also receive discounts.

In addition to local bars, Rehrig said he dedicated a sales team to exploring opportunities at resorts and hotels. Kelly noted that festivals, outdoor venues and “anywhere they want more efficient drink delivery” could benefit from Bibe.

He said negotiations with alcohol brands to sponsor upcoming Bibe events are ongoing and called the app a discovery tool for companies to enter the St. Pete market. “For the venue, it’ll be some new blood and increased revenue since we’re paying the processing fees.”

“The servers and bartenders get tipped automatically, so they’re going to be happy,” Kelly said. “And then we’ll have drink specials for people who attend.”



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