Lead(H)er: Lindsey Andrews, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Minibar Delivery
After graduating from Wharton, Lindsey Andrews and her friend Lara Crystal would get together each week for Takeout Tuesday. They’d brainstorm business ideas in Lindsey’s apartment, order a meal from Seamless, and maybe pop open a bottle of white wine from the fridge as they talked. One day, though, one of their Takeout Tuesday ingredients was missing—the wine.
“We thought that there had to be a way to press a button and get alcohol delivered, the same way we had gotten our food delivered,” Andrews said. “But we quickly found out that there was no way to easily order alcohol online.”
That night, the idea for Minibar Delivery was born. Andrews and Crystal launched their alcohol delivery service in 2014 in New York City and have since expanded to more than 50 cities across the country. The service acts as a marketplace, partnering with local liquor stores to facilitate the delivery of wine for dinner parties, beer for barbeques, liquor for cocktail parties, and even bartenders to mix it all up for particularly special events.
Before starting Minibar Delivery, Andrews worked in marketing in the consumables space with companies like Wag.com, Soap.com, and Fresh Direct. Each of these companies had a sticky customer base that repeatedly purchased the same products from the same site. Crystal, meanwhile, began her post-business school career in the luxury goods space, beginning with marketing and branding for Rent the Runway.
“We saw alcohol as a luxury consumable, which made it the perfect blend of our skill sets,” Andrews said. “We had talked about other business ideas, but this one felt like it really had legs to stand on. It was something people needed that didn’t exist, and we took the plunge because if we didn’t, we might never have done it.”
The learning curve was steep and fast. Andrews and Crystal began by testing their sales skills as they pitched their company to liquor stores and asked them to become delivery partners, then dove into everything from sales and payroll to accounting, human resources, and legal, which presented a unique challenge. Because each state to which Minibar Delivery has expanded has its own liquor laws, the company’s platform is built to match some of the more conservative laws on the list.
Over the past five years, Andrews and Crystal have continued learning and growing. The company’s success, according to Andrews, is largely due to its ability to learn from and incorporate feedback from both delivery customers and liquor store partners to create a platform that’s easy to use and genuinely adds value.
Having a co-founder has also been a difference-maker.
“When you’re creating a startup, one day will be the best day ever, and then something bad will happen the next and take you to the lowest of the low,” Andrews said. “I feel like Lara and I are really happy to have each other. Having someone to be a sounding board, to rely on if you're having a bad day, and really having that partnership to do it together has made it easier to weather the storms.”
Andrews is dedicated to continuing Minibar Delivery’s growth, a process that she knows will come with plenty more ups, downs, and learning experiences along the way. She’s looking forward to each of these and knows that the team she and Crystal have assembled are up to the task.
“What you always want to do is be proud of your work and constantly learn from it,” Andrews said. “Otherwise, you just get bored.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, so I love to spend time with her and my husband. I also really like to travel.
How do you manage stress?
I like to tackle one thing at a time and make a list. It’s overwhelming to have ten things coming at you, so it helps me be a little more methodical and take a step back.
How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink a lot of iced tea!
What’s one of your favorite places in the New York City area?
One of our favorite family rituals is doing brunch—or really, breakfast, since with a toddler daughter we’re usually eating at 9:30 or something early—at Cafe Cluny in the West Village.
What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments so far?
Building Minibar Delivery and building a really great team to help keep it going has been an accomplishment that I’m really proud of.
How does this compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago?
I have no idea where I thought I would end up 10 years ago. I was just finishing business school then. I couldn’t have predicted Minibar Delivery or that I would end up in the alcohol industry, but I would not have been totally surprised that I ended up doing something entrepreneurial.
What’s your advice for recent college graduates?
Approach every problem with a positive attitude. Think about how you can solve it, and start with saying yes. Make yourself indispensable to your boss and the company you work for.