According to New York Magazine, the average price of a cocktail in NYC ranges from $12-$17 in a moderately refined setting. With pricing like that, New Yorkers are constantly on the search for happy hour specials throughout the 6000+ bars and restaurants in Gotham. But as New Yorkers, they want these specials on their own terms and convenience. The establishments are constantly vying for ways to get customers in the door and imbibing. Happy looks to solve this problem by allowing users to book their own 60-minute happy hour at a destination of their choosing. Bar owners benefit as they are optimizing capacity utilization by driving traffic to their locations in real time. The platform is currently in East Village, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, and Fort Greene, with 140 bars and restaurants to choose from.
Today, we sit down with Jay Reno, cofounder of Happy to learn more about the startup that is making every hour happy.
Tell us about the product or service.
Happy solves the problem of excess capacity at bars and restaurants. We’ve built an app that let’s matchmakes people looking for drinks, to bars looking for people – in real time. To the user, it’s happy hour at any hour of the day.
How is it different?
We’re the first company to focus on redefining happy hour – this rigid period of time that, today, doesn’t solve the same problem is used to. Bars and restaurants have unpredictable slow periods throughout the day. Happy helps them drive in more traffic during those times.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The alcohol industry alone spends $2B per year on advertising. We’re looking to capitalize on this enormous market by partnering with bars and alcohol brands.
Alcohol brands pay to get specific specials and exposure on the app. And soon, our bar and restaurant partners will be offered a suite of data and other products to help better understand their consumers.
What inspired the business?
Paying $8 for a beer seemed crazy. What seemed crazier was having to pay full price for a drink just 5 minutes after happy hour ends, especially when there are so many available seats.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Great question. We want to be available in every major neighborhood in Manhattan within six months.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
To start a company in an industry you know better than anybody else. I think that’s key to the entrepreneur’s success.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I’d love for Fred Wilson to buy into this concept. He and his team as USV seem to have an understanding about the future of New York tech that very few people do. And he seems like a genuinely nice guy that I’d love to get a Happy beer with.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is the city with the largest number of bars and restaurants. It’s a perfect place to prove out a concept like Happy, where consumers are bombarded with choice on a daily basis. We felt if we can make Happy work here, it can work pretty much anywhere with a high density of bars and restaurants.
Where is your favorite outdoor bar in the city for a drink?
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