Marco Aponte is the CEO of Have 1 On Me. Marco has had extensive experience with growing businesses which include LFR Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. LFR was an authorized retailer of AT&T Wireless Service and located the metro Atlanta area. More recently, Marco has been involved in the restaurant business as a Wine Director in the bay area which has given him the beverage expertise and exposure to the strategic partners who will support his most recent venture.
Have 1 On Me is a social gifting application that allows you to send real drinks to friends anywhere. With Have 1 On Me users can send a 6-pack of beer for a friend’s birthday, a bottle of wine to celebrate an anniversary or a cocktail to say congrats all from your mobile phone.
MO: How did you come up with the idea for Have 1 On Me?
Marco: One of our founders happened to be sitting at a bar in San Francisco and saw it was his best friends’ birthday in Austin. He did the obligatory Facebook post glanced down at his drink and thought “wouldn’t it be cool if I could send my friend a drink?” Have 1 On Me was born…. We started with the belief that Gift cards are lame. Our goal was to create a way for people anywhere to Send drinks and be social, Have 1 On Me!
MO: Can you talk about how you’ve managed to use your extensive experience with growing businesses coupled with your background as a Wine Director to shape the vision and direction of Have 1 On Me?
Marco: Starting a business in college gave me my first exposure to building a business from the ground up. My partner and I built the store, painted the walls, and ran the store as the two only employees. It was a great experience and very fulfilling to see something come to life and the cell phone stores are still operating today. After working with LFR for a few years I sold my shares in the business after I graduated college. I lost the passion for the business and really wanted to focus on starting my own restaurant. So I worked for some great restaurants in Houston, Austin, and San Francisco and found my passion. I’ve always been a very social person which is why I was really drawn to the restaurant industry. About 2 years ago I started thinking about this idea and started talking to some friends about it and the reaction was always “that’s definitely an app that I’d use”! So I found two business partners, Chris and Sachin, who have worked with me on this and have brought this idea to life. Have 1 On Me puts the social back in social gifting and that’s’ why we are so excited about the app.
MO: How does Have 1 On Me Work?
Marco: First you go to 1onMe.com or to iTunes and download the app. Our app is completely integrated with Facebook so once you download the app you can sign in with Facebook or creating a Have 1 On Me Account. One of the benefits of signing in with Facebook is we’ll load your friends birthdays and keep you up to date so you never miss another occasion to send a drink. You select what denomination of drink you’d like to send, write you message and send your gift. One thing you will notice is that as the sender you don’t select where you drink is redeemed. That is one of the coolest features about our app. It’s no hassle gifting because the recipient chooses where they’d like to pick up their drink. Your friend receives a notification on their Facebook wall or via email and select where they’d like to redeem their drink. They choose the retailer or restaurant and redeem. Drinks can be redeemed by scanning a barcode right from your smartphone or you can print the Have 1 On Me card out. It’s that easy and you’re on your way with your drink.
MO: Can you expand on the development process of the app and any challenges you encountered along the way?
Marco: The development process for Have 1 On Me was very challenging. There are so many laws around gift cards, transaction processing and especially taking payments in-app. We just took our time and dealt with them one by one. Also alcoholic beverages and the marketing surround them is also heavily regulated so we had to do a lot of work on the legal side to make sure that we are complying with national and local laws
MO: What are some of the key elements for successfully tapping into the social gifting market?
Marco: Have 1 On Me makes gifting social. Gift cards are lame. Neither plastic or digital are engaging or fun to use. We went with a beverage theme to make gifting fun and most importantly social.
MO: Your drinks are redeemable at thousands of nationwide at restaurants like Red Rob, Logan’s Roadhouse as well as at retail stores. Can you talk about the process of building up such an impressive network of partnerships with national restaurants and retailers?
Marco: We have been very well received by restaurants and retailers across the country because of our drink theme and ultimately we’ll drive traffic into their stores. People may go to redeem a drink but more often than not, they get addition items like appetizers or full meals. One important thing to mention as well is your Have 1 On Me gift card is redeemable for more than just drinks. If you have a little left over on the card after a few beers you can always use it to pay your bill for food as well.
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