Business

Redmond man helps open craft beer delivery service Tavour

Philip Vaughn of Kirkland, left, and co-founders Sethu Kalavakur of Seattle and Rafik Robeal of Redmond have started Tavour, a craft beer delivery service, based in Kirkland.  - Raechel Dawson, Reporter Newspapers
Philip Vaughn of Kirkland, left, and co-founders Sethu Kalavakur of Seattle and Rafik Robeal of Redmond have started Tavour, a craft beer delivery service, based in Kirkland.
— image credit: Raechel Dawson, Reporter Newspapers

Like many craft beer lovers, Tavour CEO Philip Vaughn stumbled upon the brew after years of associating beer with the poor quality stuff he drank in college.

“You sort of feel like someone’s been telling you about Santa Claus your whole life and you found out there was no Santa Claus kind of thing,” said Vaughn, a Kirkland resident since 2007. “It’s kind of like someone told you this great beer was Bud Light and then you found out there’s all this different kind of beer. It unearths this whole new love for it.”

It was this passion for craft beer and the concept of connecting people to it that led Vaughn and co-founders Rafik Robeal of Redmond and Sethu Kalavakur of Seattle to launch the downtown Kirkland-based Tavour, a craft beer delivery service, just weeks ago.

So far, Vaughn said demand has been overwhelmingly positive among customers and breweries.

Customers simply register at their website and receive daily email offers for craft beer from local breweries. If a customer wants the product, he or she replies to the email with how many bottles, one of the owners processes the request and it is sent out on the next delivery date.

Customers receive deliveries of the beer at their doorstep on the 10th of every month.

“The idea was started because when you go into the grocery store people typically find the same things over and over again,” Vaughn said. “So, what we’re trying to do is give people access to that unique and interesting beer.”

But Tavour also aims to connect people to the story behind the product — which bars or stores sell the beer, how long it took the brewer to come up with the recipe and information about the ingredients.

Vaughn said their audience, a highly educated young tech generation, doesn’t want to be marketed to. They want authenticity, the story of the people and producers, he said.

“We’re all so smart-phoned and digitized,” Vaughn said. “We came from a tech background … ex-Microsoft, ex-Amazon people, and it just kind of became this desire to build this business that is authentic and not trying to be a billion dollars on Day One, but trying to connect with people and tell a story and make people happy and connect them to their community and their area.”

While Tavour delivers beer from some breweries out of state, the majority are in Washington, as are their customers, which are “pleasantly divided” between men and women.

“Beer is this backdrop into a subculture into a way of life, into a group of people … that’s what alcohol is, it’s a conduit for connection to people,” Vaughn said. “So we’re really looking to express that in everything we do.”

And that connection to community is in line with the small community feel of Kirkland, Vaughn said.

Vaughn, Robeal and Kalavakur researched how their idea would be received this past summer. Speaking to 300 craft-beer people at beer festivals around western Washington, they discovered many agreed with the business idea.

“You have to be careful as an entrepreneur to not just do what you think the world wants but to actually make sure someone besides you (does),” he said, adding it took about six months to plan the business.

Keeping in mind their audience generally has some kind of disposable income, the beers cost between $7 to $18 per bottle with the majority being around $7 to $10. The flat rate shipping fee is $9.95 a month.

Vaughn said the goal is to be at price with grocery store beers so they can have a larger focus on hard-to-find, exclusive beers.

Tavour will eventually look to sell and deliver wine but because there’s “only so much Washington wine” keeping the connection between people is harder given the geographic limitations.

“One thing awesome about beer is you can have a brewery in Kirkland that takes ingredients that are predominantly local,” Vaughn said. “… It’s this combination of both ingredients plus process and recipe, which makes beer really innovative almost like food is. We’ll do wine after we get beer right.”

The trio also hopes to expand their business from five employees to 10 this month and eventually get a delivery truck. But until then, deliveries will be done by co-founders in their personal vehicles.

“We can’t ever scale beyond the need of the customer,” Vaughn said. “We’re starting here and we’ll expand as the business warrants it.”

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