When brothers Jack, Alex, and Dan Boyman wanted to get attention for their mobile restaurant app, Sip, they decided to host pop-up bars in offices across Toronto to share the story of their company.
Soon, though, they found that the same offices were calling them back — but not to learn more about Sip. They were curious about how they could get another pop-up bar in their office for an event.
“We were so focused on the app, and the bar was this marketing arm, and people were like, ‘let’s bring that bar back.’ All of a sudden we had 10 clients and we thought, we’ve got to keep running with it,” said Dan.
“Being an entrepreneur is basically just being a 24/7 problem-solver.”
Throughout 2016, the trio hosted 80 bars across the city, but still operated their Sip app. By early 2017, though, after seeing the success of hosting the bars compared to the app, they decided to abandon Sip completely and focus exclusively on pop-up bar experiences — known today as Sipbar.
“After operating for about eight months with the bar, we came together to do our year-end review and we looked at all the progress we made as far as building clients and the number of events we’ve served,” said Jack. “We looked at the success that this bar was having almost without any effort put in behind marketing or building a program. And at that point, we realized maybe this is the direction we need to take it in.”
Sipbar allows people to book a fully-stocked bar with beer, wine, and spirits on demand. The service — which can be booked in advance or same day — starts at $15 a person, though it can go up to $45 a person depending on the needs of the event. It’s the three brothers’ first business, and so far, they say that the local tech community has been a strong early adopter of the business.
As they work to build awareness outside of tech, the team says that the real estate and legal industries are also quickly adopting the service to show spaces to clients or to celebrate new hires, respectively. Private birthday parties in condos and apartments are also a growing market segment.
“What we’ve noticed is a drastic change everyone is feeling in terms of office culture, employee morale, how to make people feel good at work. The Sipbar really services that need, which is ‘let’s do fun and engaging beautiful bar experiences at the office Thursday after work, or let’s celebrate team wins,’” said Alex.
“It’s in those lower moments where you really have to find the patienc and push through so you can get back to that next step.”
As the company grows beyond just the three brothers running each pop-up bar simultaneously, the team is currently focused on scaling its operations and expanding beyond Toronto. Sipbar also launched the first extension of its product — called Master Class — which brings a mixologist to offices to get a two-hour educational session on making cocktails. “It’s been going really well so far, especially for those who need team building exercises,” said Alex.
As they build their business, the first-time entrepreneurs are also building up their own understanding of running a scaling business — including learning that the process is “never perfect,” and the value of resilience.
“It’s in those lower moments where you really have to find the patience, and stay focused and push through again so that you can get back to that next step,” said Dan.
“Being an entrepreneur is basically just being a 24/7 problem-solver and we started off by doing a lot of things that didn’t scale,” said Jack. “When you start transitioning from the, ‘it’s working’ to the ‘how do we do more?’ That’s when you start figuring out how to go from things that don’t scale and turn them into things that scale.”