Thursday, February 8, 2007

Shareware Espresso: Coffee without the DRM

There's a coffee shop startup in Kirkland (a stone's throw from here) started by Ervin Peretz, a programmer at Google, which has been making the news because of their pricing: They don't have any.

Just a black metal lockbox. Order your mint double mochachino extra foam, then just decide what you ought to pay for it and put some money in the box. No one will peek at how much you put in.

Through his "voluntary payment" cafe, Peretz is poised to become the Robin Hood of the Starbucks set. Using an efficient, low-overhead business model and narrow profit margin, he figures he can finesse the largesse of well-off latte lovers to cover the tabs of the less fortunate. The idea emerged during a booze-fueled debate in a Saigon bar, where Peretz and a colleague had traveled to blow off steam after a period of long hours at work.

OK, any entrepeneur whose business plan was devised "during a booze-fueled debate in a Saigon bar" has my official stamp of approval! I like the guy already.

Will be interesting to see if it pans out. In a high-end neighborhood like this one in Kirkland, it's likely it could work. Would the same thing fly in a rougher-around-the-edges urban area, likely not.

I can't help but think that there's some similarity here to the no-drm music sites starting up. PC usage is of course far more anonymous, but there's there's some similarity in the cost/convenience side of it. 99 cents for a song is pretty reasonable, as is $2-3 for a latte, or $10-$20 for a premium casual game.

Is there a demographic equivalent to the high-end neighborhood in the coffee case? If you shipped casual games without DRM, would the bulk of the paying customers CONTINUE to be paying customers? Esp if you could somehow make payment easier as a result? I dunno.

5 comments:

Will Damon said...

I dunno - my knee-jerk reaction would be that people would simply share "free" casual games much like "shareware" that doesn't force people to pay gets used...

Will Damon said...

no post editing, huh...

also wanted to say - I totally digg the donate-if-you-want coffee. I pay $1-$2 for a vanilla latte instead of the $3-6 that Starbucks charges.

Anonymous said...

yeah, you said it already. try it in "the hood". all but the kitchen sink would be gone by end of day..

Anonymous said...

ah but methinks the IRS and DOR would like a look.

a fine new spin on the local flower and fruit bins popular on the Oly back roads. Except I think the honor box is honored with a .22 out here.

adam lake said...

this is a great idea to get lots of people to show up and experience the coffee shop before they start to charge. great marketing!