Monsieur's Commercial Opportunities
The commercial version of Monsieur may have more appeal than the at-home version. The founders are in discussions with various arenas, where people rent suites and servers tend to bottle inventory and monitor payment. The story is similar in clubs, where VIP sections come with bottle service. Judge and Givens say they think those are perfect environments for Monsieur, given that bottle levels can be monitored remotely, and charges can be racked up and accounted for automatically.
Givens and Judge think that the most obvious payment method will be a simple credit card swipe, but in-app purchasing is also an option, as are NFC bracelets, like you might get at a formal party (or at least one you're not crashing). The plan is to work with point-of-sale systems on a one-off basis. Givens says there are just too many to start making those choices now.
Judge is a long-time enterprise security hotshot, having been CTO at CipherTrust (which became part of Secure Computing and is now part of Intel/McAfee), Purewire (which was acquired by anti-spam behemoth Barracuda, where he still serves as chief research officer), and Pindrop (a phone security company backed by Andreesen Horowitz, where he is still executive chairman), to go along with his PhD from Georgia Tech. So he's a bit more squeamish when it comes to initiatives like Google Wallet, Apple Passport, or Square Cash.
For more immediate security, you can turn on a passcode to protect the display, and there's a lock on the door of the cabinet. Hopefully, that's all of the physical protection you need to consider to keep those teenage brats out of your precious liquor.
Givens reminds me that the average user is a little, um, tipsy, and possibly also in a dimly-lit environment, so Monsieur needs to maintain a high degree of usability.
On the commercial side, Monsieur includes a back-end management system that provides all of the magic that lets an establishment see how, say, a bottle service table is doing, but also to just generally manage inventory. Perhaps more interestingly, Monsieur is an amalgamation of data for a given business: what's selling, what isn't, how certain drinks and liquors have done historically, and so forth. Some establishments that are considering Monsieur see potential in being able to adjust drink menus based on this information, Judge says. And not just on drink types, or liquor types, but also at a brand level, or in the case of distributed businesses, regionally.
Of course, collecting all of this information gives Monsieur plenty of data that might be interesting to those liquor brands and to distributors, as well, opening up more potential business angles if the company manages to gain customers.
Home-based machines can also provide information. In fact, Monsieur does track this data, although Givens says you can opt out.
Moreover, Monsieur is constantly building out its repository of drink possibilities. The company taps into all of the big drink databases and recipes, building out menus and working through all of the possibilities, ascertaining what liquids are needed in the eight containers in order to make those drinks. Once all the math is done, the manual, human part kicks in: tasting to see if the outcome is accurate. It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it.
The commercial version includes a $995 set up fee for the business, and then costs $295 per month for the management software running in the cloud.
We will leave the question about whether Monsieur is going to make drinking too easy for another day. Surely the commercial version is just a promising way to automate many of the manual tasks that go into serving and accounting for liquor sales. On the home front, the founders have built in some responsibility capabilities, and there's probably more they could do around alcohol education. Beyond that, things would be too creepy. If you manage to empty Monsieur on a weekly basis, it could just be that you live on a party block, and you like to entertain. Or maybe you really are an alcoholic. Cheekiness aside, it's a serious issue that Monsieur will have to grapple with.
For now, though, it's exciting when technology can help automate another part of life. So let's all raise our strawberry daiquiris to Monsieur, shall we?