In 2015, Bottle co-founders Andy Blechman and Will Schreiber met when Andy was launching Southfork, a company that delivered set menus to offices. Will helped Andy build his ordering platform, and they stayed in touch.
It wasn’t too long after that Will caught wind of a childhood friend selling off extra flowers from her farm on Instagram after fulfilling her wholesale orders. She was coordinating consumer requests over text and accepting cash and checks as payment. “That was when I started thinking: this is how people are doing local business,” he recalls. And it could be much easier. “You shouldn’t be giving out your personal phone number, you should be able to collect payment digitally, and send invoices easily.” He decided to build a product that could support local merchants. One of his first calls was to Andy to see if Southfork would be interested in using it.
Andy tried Bottle with some of his catering clients and loved it. “I realized I could help successfully sell this product and get it into the market.” As the duo started to throw ideas around and discuss the possibility of co-founding a company, one fact remained true: they had never met in person. So Will drove down from Nashville to crash on Andy’s couch in Atlanta.
“After that, it was pretty obvious that this was going to be something that we both wanted to work on,” Andy says.
“Nobody was being catfished,” Will jokes.
Their first client was an interior design start-up called Hamlet, which used Bottle’s messaging software to text pictures and furniture options back and forth with their customers.
However, the pivotal moment was when a meal prep entrepreneur called Will in the midst of a move to Chicago. He wanted his subscription customers to be able to skip their orders for the week. “Subscription fatigue is real, customers don’t want to be trapped, and especially with food, if something shows up and you’re out of town, that’s it you’re going to cancel—unless they refund you immediately,” Will notes. Inventing flexible subscriptions became Bottle’s new focus.
When Andy went out to pre-sell the concept to other meal prep companies, it took off. And as the product evolved, clients have been able to increase recurring revenue through features like automated reminder texts and digital invoicing, all while catering to customers with varying needs.
Today, Bottle makes it dead simple for a local vendor—whether that be a farmer, a baker, or a vegan cook—to launch a store, communicate with customers, and sell flexible subscriptions all in one place.
“With Bottle, you get to know your customer uniquely by combining automation with a hospitality touch,” Andy says. A vendor can curate carts based on past shopping behavior, reach customers where they are (on their phones), and give folks the ability to make modifications and ask questions over text. The personalized nature is particularly appealing for food and beverage entrepreneurs invested in building the local food system and catering to their local communities.
Imagine a world where you can text a local baker for a fresh loaf of bread, receive recipe recommendations from the farmer whose stand you frequent at the market, and inform your meal prep service to pause your plan while you’re away on vacation in just a few taps. A community where makers can chat with and sell to locals with ease and learn from one another along the way—that’s the Bottle vision.
“You want to find the best sourdough in Portland, then talk to that person about how they score their bread and what mill they’re getting their flour from, and go deep with them?” Andy asks. “You’re going to do that on Bottle.”
Will adds: “Help the local bread baker build an audience and sell their bread into more homes. That’s the product dream. And if we can be the easiest place for local merchants to do that, that’ll be big.”