DivvyDown is an online service that delivers liquor, wine, beer and party supplies directly to your door. If you’re planning a party and want your friends to BYOB, you can make a shopping list to share with your guests. Anyone who is invited can buy items from the list. All purchased items will be delivered to your door when you want it.
Co-founders: Kendall Bird and Torie Runzel
NYMM: A little background about where you’re from, where you studied, how old you are and what’s your favorite drink?
Kendall Bird: I grew up in Los Angeles and am 24. Torie and I met at Vanderbilt University. I transferred there my sophomore year only knowing two people. I remember meeting Torie on my first night in Nashville and immediately knew that she was someone that I wanted to be friends with. We spent most of our sophomore year exploring the social scene in Nashville and at Vandy. During our junior year, we came to know each other in a completely different way. Torie and I had signed up for all of the same entrepreneurial classes and decided to partner together for all of our projects. We realized very quickly that we worked well together and shared a similar spitfire attitude about business that we both inherited from our dads.
Tori Runzel: Born and raised in Chicago, I have now hit my mid-twenties as a recent 25-year old. During college, Kendall and I were always working on projects together, brainstorming different business ideas and asking for any and all advice from successful entrepreneurs from the Vanderbilt and Nashville community. It was a great place to explore our growing curiosity of entrepreneurialism.
NYMM: How did you come up with the idea? When did it start? Where is it headquartered at?
KB: The original “BYOB” concept came out of need – identified through our own experiences. Torie and I both love entertaining and we also are lucky to be part of a great network of friends in NYC. We started noticing the amount of effort (and time) put towards coordinating – who brings what to the pregame or party. So we thought, why not create a service that acts like a wedding gift registry, except with much more fun gifts? Let’s make the process of getting your friends together easier and more cost effective for everyone involved.
TR: During our beta launch, we tested the site with our friends, collected feedback, only to identify a much more basic need (and revenue driver!): the desire to purchase wine, liquor and beer online for personal use. We hadn’t intended to offer this service but were intrigued by the amount of requests we were receiving and eager to jump at this opportunity to adapt to the demand. So, we spent the summer redesigning our site to offer both personal and group purchasing functions for our site.
NYMM: What was the hardest part of launching?
KB: Every part of launching a business is hard. But it’s also exciting. There are always complicated problems to solve, different opinions to convince, and new lessons to learn. When we first launched, I found being effective with my time to be most challenging, as I still had a full-time job at an advertising agency. Now that I am working on DivvyDown full-time, it’s still a challenge. The quicker we grow, the more work there is, so we have to be really smart about how we use our time.
TR: I agree with Kendall, everything! But really, I struggled the most with managing the website build without a technology background. We knew what we wanted…kind of…but didn’t know how to communicate that and how to translate it into every detail that goes into a web application. The hardest part about running your own business as a whole ties into that as well – you have to literally think of every detail that it takes to run a business, but it’s just the two of us. It’s easy to miss things. Thankfully, Kendall’s a great partner and we have a lot of great resources to help us find the missing pieces.
NYMM: How much has the business grown? What sort of strategies and practices have you used to expand the business to where it is today?
TR: The business has grown ten-fold since we first launched. We’re seeing a lot of success by spreading the word through our friends and backing that up with social media and advertising. Kendall is the social media guru and I handle our ad words campaign through Google. As my dad says, “it’s like drinking through a fire hose.” We have come so far since we started mainly because we research and ask advice about things we don’t know and then put that into practice.
NYMM: How many people are on the team?
TR: As of now, the DivvyDown team is just the two of us (and Quincy, my dog). Just being the two of us really makes me appreciate Kendall and how we’re both able to duke things out, move on, and get to the next problem. We’re tough, honest, and don’t hold grudges. We also work with an amazing web development team and have some very experienced businessmen that serve as our mentors on our Advisory Board. This structure is working for us now; we like staying lean and scrappy. I think we’ve both learned that throwing more people into a problem doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. Instead, we try to be strategic about asking for help from the right person, at the right time. There are a lot of smart people that are willing to give you their time and advice and just make sure you are ready to take full advantage of it.
KB: To add to Torie’s points, I think our two-person team works for us right now because we have completely different skill sets. We tackle different aspects of the business and are very appreciative and supportive of our unique strengths. I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I tell people that I started a business with my best friend (and roommate). While we do have the occasional disagreement, we both find fulfillment in learning from each other. I think a big key to success is being confident in yourself and also showing humility to your partner; I have no problem letting anyone know that Torie has the superior financial skills between the two of us. At the end of the day, we are a family, and its important to have someone head into the trenches with you every day.
NYMM: What are some long-term goals of the business?
TR: Our long-term goal is to provide value for our customers. We have financial goals; we have expansion goals; we have customer acquisition goals; but, at the end of the day, our business is about giving our customers the best experience and giving them every reason to use us again. As part of the Millennial generation myself (and wanting more out of what I buy), our goal is to educate our peers about our industry, to give them insight into the products they are buying and to teach them how to integrate wine, spirits and beer, into their everyday.
NYMM: Anything else you would like to add? A funny story? Lesson learned?
KB: Ruby has to do with web development, not the shiny object.
TR: Well, there have been countless funny stories. That time Pretzel Crisp showed up at our door with a full bag of goodies, expecting to walk into an office full of entrepreneurs, but only to find Kendall and I in our apartment, still in our workout clothes, posted up at our laptops connected to old TVs that we use as a double monitor. Thank god she didn’t walk in on one of the 100-degree days we were working in our t-shirt and underwear to save on AC!
#1 lesson learned from Kendall and my mom, the fighters – never give up.
Images Provided by DivvyDown
Featured Image by Kamila Muminova
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