The best way to understand the startup Bottle is to get a sampling of its customer base.
There are businesses like Serenity Bagel, run by engineer and bagel making master Jeff Escalante. He needed a way to keep his growing list of loyal customers up-to-date about when his fresh New York-style bagels were ready in the Serenbe neighborhood of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia.
Then there’s Christina Chambers, a Bottle customer who needed to increase marketing efforts for her DC-based bread business Bread Par Avion while making it easier for people to place online orders and manage their subscriptions.
It’s traditionally difficult for smaller brands like Serenity and Bread Par Avion to get in front of loyal customers, let alone set up any sort of subscription service. E-commerce platforms like Shopify and plug-and-play website builders like Squarespace aren’t designed to manage the complexity of recurring orders. And that often means revenue is left on the table for local brands.
Get To Know Bottle
That’s where Bottle comes in. The Atlanta-based startup got off the ground in 2015 to help e-commerce businesses manage their subscription offerings and better connect with their customers. The Bottle platform helps brands drive signups, streamline customer communication, autofills carts, and increase their loyal subscriber base.
Building a subscription model – be it weekly, monthly, or yearly – is key for smaller brands, since pre-orders can help business owners better predict demand and ordering volume.
On top of streamlining the back-of-house operations, Bottle also helps small businesses connect with their customers through personalized text marketing campaigns.
For Bottle co-founder Andy Blechman, the all-in-one platform for managing subscribers was born out of his own experiences trying to scale businesses in the e-commerce space.
Blechman was co-founder and COO of Accordion Partners, a New York-based private equity-focused financial consulting and technology firm, before heading back to Columbia Business School to pursue an MBA and focus on the food and beverage world. He and his family ultimately moved to Atlanta in 2014 and launched Southfork, a virtual cafeteria bringing high quality restaurants right to office employees.
It was during his time at Southfork that he met his now co-founder Will Schreiber who is currently based in New York.
New E-Commerce Realities
It has been a rollercoaster ride for most small e-commerce shops over the last three years. While “every business had to become an online business overnight” at the start of COVID, Blechman said many are now learning how to grow their omni-channel presence in both the digital and physical worlds.
And after fighting to stay open during the Great Resignation and supply chain woes over the course of 2021 and 2022, small businesses are facing even higher competition in 2023. Customer expectations have changed, and they are often looking to have a personal relationship with a brand through TikTok, Instagram, or even through personalized text messages.
Getting the messaging right is also crucial as a brand looks to keep a subscriber interested. For Blechman, Bottle can be an important tool to help e-commerce brands stand out.
“The cost of customer acquisition continues to go higher. So it’s incredibly important for businesses to be able to tell their story,” Blechman added. “We think it’s really important in a world where SEO and ad-driven sales aren’t guaranteed [and they are] harder to nail….it’s really important for brands to tell their story.”
Bottle was bootstrapped from its inception until April of 2021. Blechman said the team decided to take on outside funding and raised a pre-seed round led by Texas-based Active Capital and Zac Bookman, CEO of OpenGov, to start scaling the business. That money allowed the company to bring on new talent, revamp the platform, and focus on the subscription offerings portion of the business.
“We feel like the product and the consumer experience really shines for its simplicity,” Blechman added.
Want to see Bottle’s tech in action? You can start ordering from these brands and check out the seamless Bottle experience for yourself:
Serenity Bagels (Serenbe, Georgia)
The Doughnut Project (New York, New York)
Nourish Meals (Meal delivery throughout the Southeast)
Buttercream Bake Shop (Washington, DC)