Like many new ideas, the concept for Garth Goldwater and George Mayorga’s latest business venture was born of a problem that seemed to plague them often.
One day, Mayorga, a self-proclaimed seltzer fanatic, was walking back to his office from the grocery store schlepping cases of the bubbly beverage in his arms, after the pair had depleted their supply.
Suddenly, annoyance set in.
“I was on the phone with Garth and I had four cases of seltzer in my hand,” he said. “And I was just telling him how much of a pain it was to do that.”
He figured others have experienced the same predicament. So they came up with a plan: Eliminate the hassle of trying to muscle boxes of seltzer around, or the frustration of running out, by launching a “milkman”-style delivery service for the fizzy drinks.
On Friday, Goldwater and Mayorga unveiled a new website for what they’ve dubbed Ultra Seltzer, their membership-style service that promises to bring case after case of the drink straight to its customers, as often as they want.
“It started as something that made us laugh, but once we thought it about it and ran the numbers and unit economics on it, we thought, ‘Wait, this actually makes sense and people might want it,’ ” Mayorga said.
Here’s how it works: Customers who want to become members can hop on Ultra Seltzer’s website and sign up by entering their cellphone number or e-mail address. Once a confirmation comes back, they can place an order.
The company, which is in “very beta” stage, its founders said, has an array of offerings, from LaCroix, to Polar, to Spindrift and more.
Once a beverage is selected, Ultra Seltzer will get in touch so they can deliver the order to your front door, all the while wearing old-timey milkmen outfits.
Deliveries will go out every day at set times. Customers can choose between the morning slot or one that’s later in the evening.
If a customer starts running low on their supply, they can place a new order via text and get “bumped” onto the next available delivery time.
The service is $15 per month, and Ultra Seltzer doesn’t charge customers until the seltzer is actually dropped at a person’s doorstep.
Of course, the zany concept, which the duo admits was somewhere between a joke and a fantasy job, already has its critics.
In early January, they tested the seltzer-related waters to see if people would be interested in becoming customers by posting about the project on Reddit.
Naysayers saw the idea as comical, or didn’t think it would solve many problems for potential clients.
“Wait this sounds nuts. So you’d be driving around to different stores looking for seltzer to deliver to people?,” one person wrote. “Really sounds like you’re falling on the sword for other seltzer lovers.”
Others said they could just use services like AmazonFresh and Instacart. However, Goldwater and Mayorga argue those options are often pricier due to delivery fees or unreliable because stores will run out of stock.
“Whenever I buy seltzer I drink it quickly and then don’t have it for four days because it’s such a pain to go get it,” said Goldwater, who runs a software consultancy company with Mayorga. “The idea is, you never run out of seltzer and have to settle for something subpar.”
While there’s admittedly some logistics to work out, Ultra Seltzer has already scooped up a few customers in its first month.
Heather McCormack was an early adopter. She saw the query Goldwater and Mayorga posted on Reddit and was immediately intrigued.
“A lot of the Reddit board was roasting them and saying it wasn’t plausible. But there was also a contingent that said, ‘This is exactly what I’ve always wanted. Please and thank you,’ ” she said. “There’s a dedicated community out there that’s really into seltzer — not just casually into seltzer — and I think there’s enough of those people in the Boston area alone to make it work.”
Sally Schofield also decided to take a chance on it.
The 32-year-old Boston resident lives on the fifth floor of her apartment building and doesn’t have a car. As a “seltzer enthusiast,” she loathes lugging cases of the drink upstairs every time she makes a trip to the grocery store.
“I don’t usually sign up for these type of bourgeois services,” she said, but “there are certain inconveniences that are worth paying to get rid of.”
If the recent upward trend of seltzer sales, the formation of Facebook groups specific to drinking and finding seltzer, and the fervor over new releases from brands like Worcester-based Polar Seltzer are any indication, Ultra Seltzer’s model could bubble up.
At least, that’s the hope.
“We have launched many apps and built a ton of products for people, and the reactions to this have been on a different kind of scale,” said Goldwater. “So the next steps are finding more people who will love it.”