A UW-Madison student and entrepreneur is trying to make buying and selling cups of coffee at independent shops more convenient.
Jack Pawlik, 22, who has seen what a mobile app has done for coffee behemoth Starbucks, has created his own app that allows users to purchase coffee with their smart phones -- but not from just one shop. The Drip app, created by Pawlik and Avery Durant, a 20-year-old developer in Boston, allows customers to order before they arrive and accrue loyalty points collectively from the shops and redeem the points at any of the shops on the app.
The app has seven Madison shops, while an app for Lincoln, Nebraska, home to the University of Nebraska, has three coffee shops. An app for Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University, has two shops. Pawlik said he's aiming for shops in college towns, but for now is content on growing his business in the three cities in which he's established a presence. Madison, for example, has about 50 independent coffee shop locations that are potential customers, he said.
"We're really trying to saturate these markets," Pawlik said as he nursed a mocha at Fair Trade Coffee House, 418 State, one of the shops on the Drip app. "It's something I really enjoy working on, and I think our product really does help our coffee shops."
Other Madison shops on the app are Cafe Maya, 5501 Odana Road and at 45 S. Bassett St.; Java Den, 1022 W. Johnson St.; Cafe Social, 102 N. Bedford St.; Jade Mountain Cafe, 2611 E. Johnson St.; and Deja Brew, 4915 Commercial Ave.
The shops on the free app appear in the order of those that are closest to the user. Customers load money onto their own account in the app and then order their coffee or other items off the menu that appears on the app. Orders are then filled by baristas and ready when the customer arrives. For every dollar spent, customers earn beans that can be redeemed for free drinks at any of the shops on the app with Pawlik getting a cut of each sale.
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Pawlik, who is studying real estate, has been involved in other tech startups that have helped pave the way for his creation of Drip.
"You learn a lot about how to control your emotions," Pawlik said of being an entrepreneur. "I try to keep myself in the middle. On days when things are going really well, I don't let myself get too high and days when things are going really bad, you can't let yourself get too low. I really try to tell myself not to ride the emotional roller coaster."
In 2015, shortly after graduating from Edgewood High School, he joined Envoy Now, a California-based food delivery service. Pawlik spent time in San Francisco and, in the fall of his freshman year in college, launched the service in Madison. It ultimately grew to 25 markets before it was acquired by another company. In late 2016, Pawlik helped found Line Leap, an app that partnered with bars that typically have long lines on busy nights. The app is essentially a fast pass where users pay a premium (which can range from $10 to $200) to jump to the head of the line. The app now has 40 bars in 15 cities.
In summer 2017, Pawlik launched Cork Drinks, a drink subscription service where users pay $10 a month to get one drink per day at any of the participating bars on the app. The service started in Madison and now includes other bars around Iowa State and Penn State universities. The experience with Cork Drinks and seeing the success of the Starbucks app, which has over 22 million users, led to Drip.
Pawlik, who will graduate from college later this year, has no intentions of using his real-estate degree.
"I kind of spoiled myself my freshman year getting involved with a really cool startup," he said. "So ever since then, I've known that this is what I want to do for a career, and it's always been a struggle to go back and focus on the school work."