March 6, 2019

Engineering Spotlight: Drizly

Drizly is an alcohol delivery app that currently serves over 100 cities in the United States, and has a laundry list of beers, wines, and spirits to choose from. Last year, we interviewed Drizly’s Co-Founder and SVP of New Business Justin Robinson for The VentureFizz Podcast where we learned, among other things, all about the business side of the company.

We connected with Dan Chen, Drizly’s VP of Engineering, to get an inside look at the company's engineering team. Chen also went into lots of details about the company’s technology, the various projects, the team's culture and more!

Interested in joining Drizly’s engineering team? Click here to see the company’s job openings.

Quick Hit Details

  • Year Founded: 2012

  • Number of employees: 94

  • Number of engineers: 31

  • Industry: Alcohol E-commerce

Can you share a summary on what Drizly does?

Drizly is an alcohol e-commerce platform, allowing users to choose from a wide selection of beer, wine, and liquor and have it delivered in 60 minutes or less. Drizly partners with local retailers to bring their inventory online and facilitates the entire e-commerce experience from payment to delivery. We are committed to being there for the moments that matter and making the good times better!

Dan Chen Drizly
Dan Chen, VP of Engineering at Drizly

What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?

We use a wide variety of different technologies across the platform. Our API is built with Ruby on Rails and runs on AWS leveraging many AWS services such as Lambdas, SQS, etc. Our consumer apps are a mix of Swift and C for iOS, and Java and Kotlin for Android, both moving more towards Swift/Kotlin respectively. The Retailer App is built in React Native, and most of our front end projects are in React. For reporting and analytics, we use a lot of Redshift, for data processing we use Spark and our data Science team works a lot with Python, R, and Scikit. Other technologies we love include Docker, Scala, Rust, Elasticsearch and Elixir.

What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?

Our infrastructure team is in the process of migrating from EC2 instances to dynamic ECS clusters to unlock auto-scaling. Part of the challenge at Drizly is people tend to order alcohol around the same time, so being able to handle fluctuations in scale is extremely important.

Another interesting challenge is the process of integrating with our retail stores. We partner with a wide array of establishments, from stand-alone, independent liquor stores to hyperlocal delis to corporations and chains like BevMo!. How does our engineering team integrate to meet each of their needs, making sure the widest selection of their inventory is available for sale and up to date while scaling the entire process? It’s a fun problem. Challenging, but fun.

Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities?  For example - skunk work projects, open source projects?

Definitely! We do hackathons once a quarter, where engineers explore different ways to add value, from experimenting with a new idea/technology to simulating a virtual reality liquor store experience. It’s a great opportunity for engineers to collaborate with engineers from different teams, learn about the challenges of other departments, and innovate solutions. Many of the tools and features we use today were conceptualized or even deployed during hackathons.

What is the culture like at Drizly for the engineering team?

One of the nice things about working on a platform like Drizly, is almost all of us have used the service, so we all have or regularly are the customers that we are building for. The engineering team is always striving to improve the consumer experience, a lot of which goes on behind the scenes. We encourage engineers at Drizly to think beyond the ticket/backlog and evaluate the actual problem they are trying to solve, so you will often see engineers discussing more than just technical details and really evaluating what is best for the customer.

During work hours we challenge each other to innovate and push the boundaries of the alcohol industry. Outside of work, we challenge each other to board games and high scores. Our events calendar is packed with a wide variety of activities for everyone, educational wine tastings, spin class, beach day, skip trips, just to name a few.

What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?

A candidate can expect to meet a lot of friendly people while running through a variety of topics. Programming ability is important, but we try to look at all of the qualities of each candidate. For more junior candidates we look for the ability to learn, receive feedback and a steep career trajectory. On the senior side we really value those who can take their technical knowledge and experience and elevate everyone around them. Few problems are solved alone these days, so we not only look for great programmers, but team players we can work with every day.

Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?

We host regular tech tastings for folks to see what Drizly is all about, network, and mingle with our engineers. Come check it out!

Drizly Meetup Event

Rapid Fire Q&A

What’s on tap?

Currently its Great Divide Titan IPA, but we tend to neglect the tap in favor of regular Drizly orders, usually consisting of New England breweries and lots of wine.


Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars

iPhone or Android?

Pretty evenly split but I use an iPhone, so iPhone.

Coffee - hot or iced?

Hot in the morning, cold brew in the afternoon.

Favorite employee perk?

The office location next to the public garden makes for a pleasant commute and great views. Unlimited vacation is also a nice way to keep that work-life balance.

What music is playing in your office?

We rotate through a wide variety of less than ideal music.

View from your office: 

Drizly View from the Office

Cleanest desk / Messiest desk: 

Team Profiles

Bryan Swords, Senior Software Engineer

Bryan (we call him Swords) first joined Drizly 4 years ago as a young, eager co-op from Northeastern. Bryan joined a small team of 4 engineers, only 1 of which lived in Boston, so he spent most of his time learning on his own. After graduating, he returned to Drizly full-time, and has since contributed to almost every repository on the Drizly platform, tackled many projects/initiatives, and now leads a team supporting our retailer partners. Bryan has set a high standard for new engineers, and strives to help get them there. He was recently immortalized in the coat closet.

Kat Wu, Junior Software Engineer

Kat was formerly a pre-med student at Cornell, and a biology teacher in Brooklyn, New York before switching to software engineering. She first started software development at Moderna, integrating raw data from laboratory robots into a web application. Kat has only been at Drizly a short time but has already released several features to production, including a new tool for the sales team to quickly and easily get stores onboarded to the Drizly platform. As part of the integrations team, she is currently working on new features to help retailers manage their own inventory. Kat is seen here, sitting on a throne in Jing'an Temple in Shanghai.

Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Drizly

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