We've had the good fortune of rubbing elbows with a lot of cool people in Ontario craft beer circles.  Someone we've very recently connected-with is Bill Wittur of Drinky Canada. Bill's already a successful local entrepreneur and he's now delving into the Ontario craft beer world. His new venture is going to open-up access and convenience for many of us who love craft beer. Here's how Bill explains things:

What is Drinky Canada?
Drinky Canada gives suppliers - both domestic and international (through agents) - an opportunity to list products that are not listed with government stores. Enthusiasts seeking unique and unlisted products can shop using the channel. A commission is deducted from the supplier, but we've frozen any cost to the supplier for the first year, to encourage them to participate. Fulfillment is the responsibility of the supplier. The supplier receives the order via Drinky.ca, they charge the client, print the shipping label and then Canada Post takes over.

What got you started on this project?
We operated as a wine agent in Ontario for 5 years, with the vast majority of our product not listed - limiting our ability to generate cash flow. These were/are award-winning products that the LCBO would not list either on their shelves or online. To generate their cash flow, we would sell wine privately (introducing our products at trade shows, parties and other events - a lot of work for a few cases at a time.

What's your goal and what do you hope to accomplish with Drinky Canada?
We want to create digital shelf-space for suppliers. We want to expose the average consumer to the vast universe of products that they're missing out on. From a business standpoint, we hope to always work with and remain on-side with regulators, while pursuing a profitable business focussed on online sales. Ultimately, we want to find industry partners and investors that can help elevate the brand, business and opportunity for everyone. Drinky will also be a social forum. People will be able to review, share, talk and promote their favourite products.

With the recent home-delivery service announced by the LCBO, why would someone still use Drinky.ca?
Most importantly, the LCBO initiative validates our business model. The vast majority of products in Ontario, Canada and beyond, are not listed with the LCBO. A rough estimate suggests there are anywhere from 10 to 12 million products available around the world. The DTC model of the LCBO has only a few thousand products.  We're positioning ourselves as "Canada's beverage solution". We're national - and as provinces/territories agree to eliminate inter-provincial trade barriers - we'll be there to promote Canadian and international products across the country.

When are you launching the site?
We're live now, so that suppliers can add products. However the real live date for the consumer will be mid-September.

How do you see your site - and craft beer - evolving?
Beer is a very "local" product and my expectations of A LOT being shipped province-to-province, or even city-to-city, are low - simply because of the array of competition. We hope to be in a position to sponsor national contests that celebrate the hard work of ALL of these local and unique producers. As we expand the options and barriers come down, Drinky.ca will be a great site for fans and enthusiasts to get their beer-geek on!

We are excited and anticipating Drinky Canada's launch this month. Stay-tuned as we try-out the site and give some user feedback. From what Bill explains, it's exactly what the beer enthusiast has been waiting-for!

~ Tim