Jamie Robinson got the idea for TAPP while enjoying a Guinness at
McShea’s, his favorite pub in Ardmore. He wondered whether a sensor
placed in a beer tap could help beer makers learn more about their
customers and better market their products.
Now, West Conshohocken-based TAPP Technologies wants to provide beer
companies with tools to engage consumers between their bar seat and the
beer tap. At its heart is a WiFi-enabled sensor placed inside a beer tap
that not only reports essential usage data but also enables beer
companies to run interactive campaigns to entice drinkers, especially
TAPP expects to generate less than $250,000 in revenue from recently
launched pilot programs with a “leading U.S. premium light beer brand”
that recently began in 30 bars in San Diego and 40 bars in New Orleans.
“The interest from our pilot partner is so significant we could
basically grow from no revenue to seven, eight figures of revenue in one
year,” Robinson said.
TAPP’s products come at a time when traditional brewers are
struggling to grow, despite rapidly expanding craft brewers. “Finding
ways to activate customers at home or at a bar is extremely critical in
this competitive environment,” said Wharton marketing professor Patti
TAPP faces stiff competition in the $25 billion domestic market.
Indiana’s SteadyServ Technologies, which has partnered with Intel,
raised $19.4 million in venture funding. And Tel Aviv’s WeissBeerger
works with German computer company SAP to provide a similar service.
WeissBeerger took $7.5 million from investors. SteadyServ uses a smart
device to track weight of the beer while WeissBeerger measures the
ounces of beer in any keg.
The sensor’s accelerometers – measuring the flow – allow a beer
company to monitor a brand’s popularity and usage patterns across the
Scott Kerkmans, professor and director of the Brewing Industry
Operations Program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, calls
this “potentially highly valuable information” in a sector that relies
on manual, clipboard-style reporting.
TAPP’s sensor was developed with West Conshohocken-based Ciright
Systems, which manufactures TAPP’s sensors and owns part of the company.
Robinson noted that TAPP’s patents are viable in more than 140
countries; the company hopes to launch in China, India, and Western
Europe in the next three years.
The start-up intends to keep hardware costs at less than $500 per
unit, with a small installation fee to drive widespread adoption.
Monthly subscriptions to the TAPP cloud are expected to drive most of
the company’s revenue.
Given TAPP’s fast growth, Robinson has started discussions with
venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and New York. He hopes to leapfrog
the early seed and angel rounds to raise the funds from venture capital
firms since TAPP has a working product and paying customers.
Venture investment will be spent on expanding the service, and hiring
an executive team . Robinson, who has worked as a certified NFL agent,
says he has spent $300,000 of his own funds and is adamant that he will
not use the new funds to pay himself a salary.
In the future TAPP hopes to entice patrons through interactive games.
“We have a countdown clock and empty branded beer glass on TV,” he
explained. “Every time the selected brand of beer’s tap is pulled, the
glass on TV fills up in real time.”