Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Lasso Promises to Deliver Wine and Cheese Within Two Hours for Free

There are many same-day delivery tests and trials going on in various cities from Amazon, Google, Postmates, Instacart and others — but scant evidence that ferrying around last-minute orders can actually be a profitable business.

lasso_screensA new company called Lasso thinks it has found the perfect slice of the market to make same-day delivery work: Wine, spirits and specialty foods.

Lasso, which is currently available only in San Francisco, promises to bring the goods to customers’ doors within two hours of their order, for no additional charge.

The idea is that people might want to throw a party that night, or send a gift basket, and will appreciate the convenience. They can also order up to 30 days in advance.

Why wine and cheese? Because the orders are large and pricey. Co-founder and CEO Adam Zbar said that in early tests the average Lasso order was about $150.

And also, because wine and cheese are interesting. Lasso hopes to help tell stories about products like craft beers, help amateur mixologists get a creative supply of beverages, and give local shops and makers an opportunity to pitch themselves, Zbar said.

Lasso orders can be placed via Web and iPhone, and they are geotargeted, so customers will only see options that are available locally. Then participating wine and spirits shops fulfill the order, and it is picked up by a network of crowdsourced drivers.

So in a way, this is kind of like buying flowers online — where a local merchant fulfills what’s chosen with what they have in stock — but it’s a bit more targeted to the specialty shops themselves.

That’s in contrast to existing online wine stores, which have issues shipping across state lines. To make sure Lasso isn’t selling alcohol to minors, the company has built a system that puts payments in escrow until IDs are checked at the door, and makes the local store the “merchant of record,” Zbar said.

Of course, Lasso isn’t yet a sustainable same-day business, either. Zbar said it may eventually start adding delivery fees.

There are also those who have tried and failed — not even that long ago. Another San Francisco wine delivery business with iPhone ordering called Rewinery recently shut down. Zbar theorized that startup may have been hurt by having limited selection, whereas Lasso will be more of a marketplace, so it will have more variety.

Lasso has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from investors including PivotNorth Capital, US Venture Partners, Baseline Ventures, Relevance Capital, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Ted Meisel, Lars Albright and Andy Miller. Zbar and co-founder and CTO Braxton Woodham previously built a social media company called Tap11 (originally Zannel), which was bought by Avos.

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