Lifestyle shot of three girlfriends drinking Mingle Mocktails on a couch.
In today's market, consumers are searching for memorable experiences from the brands they choose to shop. Here's how Playsee, Go Disco, and Mingle Mocktails are tapping that trend. — Mingle Mocktails

How three startups accelerated growth via experience-driven business models:

  • Map-based video-sharing app Playsee amassed millions of users by matching consumers with highly targeted content based on their location and personal interests.
  • Social discovery app Go Disco helps people find ‘niche, local and cool things to do’ — landing $8.1 million in funding to drive growth.
  • Alcohol-free beverage startup Mingle Mocktails weaves celebratory marketing and experiences into every consumer touchpoint, helping it land placement at national retailer Whole Foods.

In an increasingly competitive — and saturated — market for goods and services, consumers are looking for memorable experiences from the brands they shop and the digital platforms they use. A focus on delivering just that has helped a trio of startups achieve growth.

Wendy Mei, Director of Business Strategy at video-sharing app Playsee; Sean Conrad, co-founder of experience discovery app Go Disco; and Laura Taylor, founder of alcohol-free beverage brand Mingle Mocktails, shared their perspectives on how they have successfully integrated experience into their respective businesses to drive growth.

Map-based video-sharing app Playsee, designed for users to experience destinations in a new and more authentic way, has found success weaving together the physical and digital realms for travelers and locals alike. Similarly, Go Disco leverages online connections to enable local, real-life experiences designed with a human touch, while Mingle Mocktails has integrated how consumers shop for adult beverages and the places they drink them into the brand’s DNA.

All three companies have achieved growth in the last year with a focus on delivering experiences at every consumer touchpoint.

 Headshot of Wendy Mei, director of business strategy, Playsee.
Wendy Mei, Director of Business Strategy, Playsee. — Playsee

Playsee: Amassing millions of users by facilitating their ‘unique ways of enjoying the small things in life’

Wendy Mei, Director of Business Strategy

Playsee was built to be an inclusive online social space, where we believe that everyone has their own unique ways of enjoying the small things in life, and each community has its unique cultures that are worthy of being shared. Seemingly regular moments like going to a local coffee shop and taking a bite out of your fresh morning bagel are relatable to many in the United States; however, these experiences can be intriguing to people elsewhere around the world.

With our map interface design and location-based recommendation system, users are matched with content based on location and personal interest. This, in turn, makes it easier for potential customers to find businesses that provide products and services that they desire in their preferred locations.

Playsee’s focus on location allows small businesses to be brought forward to the attention of potential customers — this could be the neighborhood cafe where you grab your coffee every morning, the local bodega where you get your groceries every day, or the barbershop down at the corner where you get fresh cuts every month. Playsee wants to uplift these hidden gems in the community.

Since our launch in 2020, we’ve seen over 350,000 user accounts upgraded to official accounts, and welcomed hundreds of new businesses—a majority being eateries, local tour operators, bed-and-breakfasts, and shops providing in-person services in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, and many more.

[Read; Social Commerce and Loyalty Drive Key Marketing Trends]

 Headshot of Sean Conrad, co-founder of Go Disco.
Sean Conrad, Co-Founder, Go Disco. — Go Disco

Go Disco: Enabling memorable IRL experiences boosts customer retention rates

Sean Conrad, Co-Founder

‘Experience’ is the core of our company. We know that creating and sharing memorable experiences in real life more often with friends, loved ones, and your community helps build a healthier social life and a better society.

We built our company and the Go Disco [social discovery] mobile app for one simple purpose: to help people be together more often in real life. We do this by asking you what you’re interested in, and then we use our patent-pending technology to generate a curated map and a beautiful feed full of inspirational experiences just for you –niche, local, cool things that we know you’ll want to do.

We know people desire such a tool: Our research found that 83% of people consider spending time with their friends and family offline to be either very important or the most important thing in their life, and nearly 90% of those people want technology to help! We are working to maximize happiness and value with a low-friction, streamlined way of getting together with people you already know to do the things you want to do.

We know people desire such a tool: Our research found that 83% of people consider spending time with their friends and family offline to be either very important or the most important thing in their life, and nearly 90% of those people want technology to help!

Sean Conrad, Co-Founder, Go Disco

The response from users, press, partners, and investors has been great. Go Disco has raised a total of $8.1 million from angel investors and angel groups. These funds were used to build the core app and develop a scalable, patent-pending content engine.

Users find the app highly valuable – in fact, as measured by weekly retention, we rank near the top 10% for our category. Our focus in 2022 is growth: more users in more cities.

[Read: DTC Alcohol Marketplaces Are Helping Small Merchants Uncork Digital Sales]

 Headshot of Laura Taylor, founder of Mingle Mocktails.
Laura Taylor, Founder, Mingle Mocktails. — Mingle Mocktails

Mingle Mocktails: Landing Whole Foods by embedding inclusivity-geared experiences into ‘every aspect of our branding’

Laura Taylor, Founder

Mingle is all about empowering people to experience social connection. Mingle’s branding and messaging is bright, uplifting, and joyful to ensure everyone can feel part of the party with a festive alcohol-free cocktail or [a mixed drink] for a light cocktail, so they can mix or mingle together.

I have been to countless cocktail parties, business dinners, backyard barbecues, and happy hours where I felt left out because I chose to be alcohol-free. Mingle Mocktails reinforces inclusion by enabling individuals with a choice that celebrates their preferences in a positive way. This experience is embedded in every aspect of our branding from the product labels outlining recipes for a cocktail and mocktail to the messaging we use across our digital platforms.

We’ve recently partnered with spirits distributors to get more placement in liquor stores, bars, and restaurants. We want to make it easy for our customers to enjoy Mingle Mocktails as part of their active lifestyle, so we are striving to ensure [the brand] is sold and served wherever alcohol is sold and served to reach them wherever they prefer to shop and socialize.

The non-alcoholic adult beverage category is on a high growth trajectory because more people are choosing to be sober curious or alcohol free, so our strategy is to get closer to those customers to make it easier for them to find and enjoy Mingle.

I am sober, but I still shop for wine and spirits when hosting social gatherings, so I want to be able to purchase adult alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at one location, so I don’t have to make multiple stops to accommodate myself and my guests. I know I’m not alone. We are [now] helping grocery stores like Whole Foods assess their adult non-alcoholic beverage offerings so they can provide their customers with the optimal shopping experience. It takes time for major national chains to make these changes, but we are seeing a nice return on investment by proactively engaging with retailers early while they evaluate this category.

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Published May 16, 2022