Spokane Entrepreneurs Develop Coffee Ordering App

Aug 23, 2018

Olga and Mavis Beary are developing a phone app that would allow people to order coffee on their phones at many shops.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The phrase “There’s an app for that” has become one of the newest cliches in America. Applications on our smart phones provide all kinds of useful services, says Spokane entrepreneur Olga Beary.

“App is life right now in our generation," Beary said. "I live by apps. I know my friends and colleagues live by apps. It’s a new convenience, if you will. It’s a new interaction and it’s a new connection of any aspect of life, either social, business, financial, apps is everything.”

It’s no surprise that Olga and her wife, Mavis, are developing an app they call Fine Grounds.

We met one morning recently on the patio of, what else, a coffee shop, where Olga explained the motivation behind their app.

“It would have been nice if I could have walked in and I could have picked up my coffee this morning before we sat down, but I had to wait. It was a five-minute process between waiting, like the three people ahead of me, ordering and then fixing it up the way I would like it, if that was my preference,” Olga Beary said.

They thought, there should be an app for this. So they set out to create one where a customer could order coffee ahead of time using her phone.

“They can either do a quick order, where they will literally message what they want, if they already know what they want, or they’ll be able to go through a menu of a coffee shop of what they’re offering and order that way,” Olga Beary said.
 
Now, creating apps is not the day job for either Olga or Mavis. Olga works in the Department of Biology at Eastern Washington University. Mavis is an interior designer. So they sought help from Startup Spokane and Michael Ebinger at Washington State University’s Center for Innovation.

“They started as an order-by-phone liquor business and they realized that, because of the permitting and liabilities and all of that stuff, that they really weren’t going to succeed at that,” Ebinger said.

So, they adjusted.

“They saw a Starbucks that does their ordering, but only in Starbucks stores," Ebinger said. "And Olga and Mavis said why don’t we do this for anybody, any coffee store? I think they’re re-pivoting right at the moment to think about maybe those coffee shops that have drive-in windows are the best place to go.”

Ebinger has helped them identify who their customers will be and where their revenue will come from. And he’s helped them with what he calls a “value proposition.”

“They want to bring high quality coffee to most consumers without a wait,” he said.

With all of that determined, Olga and Mavis started the hard work of physically creating the app. Mavis Beary says they decided on the division of labor.

“She does the coding part aspect right now and I jump in and review it and do the grammar check, do the layout aspect of it. I make sure that everything is functioning properly,” Mavis Beary said.

Ideally, someone with more coding skills would be doing this, but that would cost a lot of money, which they don’t have. The Bearys are in the process of looking for investors willing to front them the money so they can finish developing the app. Then, Olga says, there’s the work of courting coffee shops who might pay money to be included in the app.

“We’ve received a lot of interest, so the anxious point of getting it done, that’s where the pressure is coming in, is getting it coded; basically building an MVP right now,” she said.

MVP is minimum viable product.

“So we can have a few customers try it out, spin it, break it, so we can make it better,” Olga Beary said.

Such is the work of budding entrepreneurs. Olga Beary said she and Mavis are working long hours to develop their idea, but they knew going in it would take that. They’re confident coffee drinkers will soon be using their app to get their cuppa without standing in line.