We first met Charlie Jordan in 2015 when the Tennessee Tech University student had launched a company named Wait Saver (see our teknovation.biz article here) and had five investors. That start-up did not succeed, but the Hendersonville, TN native was back a year later with another food industry-focused start-up named SafeSurv.
We lost track of Jordan for a few years, but reconnected recently when he was a participant in one of the “Founders Meet-ups” organized by FoundersForge, the Appalachian Highlands start-up champion. What we learned in that discussion and a subsequent follow-up interview is that, like many entrepreneurs, Jordan’s original idea continues to evolve.
In fact, there are now two companies – the original SafeSurv with its mission to curb underage drinking with an app that enables restaurants and bars to quickly check the authenticity of IDs and THEOS, a more commercially-focused effort supporting adult beverage wholesalers, retailers and suppliers.
There is obviously one common connection – alcohol, and the initial company actually is a tool that allows the clients of Theos to put into practice their stated commitments to curb underage drinking.
“I never intended for SafeSurv to be a revenue driver,” Jordan said as he reminded us that he started the effort four years after a high school classmate lost his life in a traffic accident because of underage drinking. For the now Nashville-based entrepreneur, it was a cause . . . developing a responsible service platform.
“Today, it’s completely designed as a charitable offering,” Jordan added. “It’s a social mission that aligns with the commitment of many brands to responsible drinking.”
SafeSurv was capturing considerable data from each transaction through its app that linked with the retailer’s Point of Sale system, and a chance meeting at the 2017 “Southern Brewers Conference” in Nashville started Jordan thinking about other possibilities that led to the launch of THEOS.
“After the conference ended, I received a call from a representative from Goose Island (Beer Company) who told me what we were doing with data would be valuable for the entire beverage industry supply chain,” he said. “I really started diving into better understanding the supply chain. We have all this information. What if I can productize it?”
And, that is exactly where THEOS is focused . . . the entire beverage industry supply chain from those who make and supply the product to those who wholesale it and those who sell it at retail locations. Theos provides real value for each party, from simply a better and more efficient operation to enhanced marketing.
- For wholesalers, THEOS connects and streamlines the front office enabling them to: (1) automate manual procedures, introduce powerful artificial intelligence tools, and drive greater sales velocity.
- For retailers, the product allows the business owner to browse all its wholesale portfolios on one platform and place one complete beverage order with the THEOS app automatically sending the orders to each of the business’ independent sales representatives.
- For suppliers, the tool provides them a singular channel to directly engage accounts in a variety of ways including promoting products directly to retail buyers.
“It’s a more intelligent atmosphere for alcohol distribution,” Jordan explains. “It’s been wild to see how influential data can be. A year ago, eCommerce was a foreign concept.”
Noting that “we are still very much a lean team,” he says the two companies have three full-time employees and eight contractors. Recurring revenue has reached $30,000 a month, and the enterprise is active in 48 states and three Canadian provinces.
“We are organically expanding outside of the beverage industry,” Jordan adds, noting THEOS is already distributing Cannabidiol (CBD) and is about to add dry goods to the mix. More important, he’s building even stronger relationships with the various establishments that can help address the original driver for SafeSurv – curbing underage drinking.