Tipples

Subscribe to app, Chug, for free daily drink

Chug app founders (from left) Eugene Ng, Fiona Chan and Erwin Ng.
Chug app founders (from left) Eugene Ng, Fiona Chan and Erwin Ng.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Thanks to a recently launched drinking app, there is now more reason for Mr Ian Choo, who works in the Central Business District (CBD), to get a drink after work.

The 30-year-old, a learning and development assistant manager, frequents American bar Mischief at the Esplanade Mall. Now, when he goes there, he can get one drink on the house when he shows the bartender a promotion from the app, Chug.

For a monthly subscription fee of $14.90, the app allows members to redeem a free drink every day at participating bars and restaurants, many of which are in the CBD.

Launched last month, it refreshes at 5am every day and can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android.

While it has 1,000 downloads, the app has only about 200 subscribers. There are now 13 participating establishments, including dive bar Skinny's Lounge in Boat Quay, craft beer joint Freehouse in Boon Tat Street and the snazzy ME@OUE at Raffles Place.

The redeemable drink is decided by the establishment and is usually a beer or a cocktail.

Mr Choo, who has been using the app for two months, says: "I don't go to a bar every day, but the subscription feecovers the cost of my drinks, so I thought it was worthwhile."

The founders of the app are brothers Eugene Ng, 30, and Erwin Ng, 27, and the younger Mr Ng's girlfriend Fiona Chan, 25.

The venture came about because they enjoy going to new bars, meeting people and trying new drinks as young working professionals. All three have a background in the finance industry.

As drinking every day after work can be an expensive affair, they wanted to create an easy-to-use app for users to redeem a drink at bars and restaurants they describe as "cool, swanky and chic".

They were also inspired by the rise of sharing-economy apps such as Uber and KFit, which pass on cost savings to users. Mr Erwin Ng says: "We wanted people to enjoy the experience and, at the same time, save a little bit of money."

After coming up with the idea in February, they got it off the ground over the next few months, along with a small team of developers and an investment of $50,000.

Mr Erwin Ng is working on the app full time, while his partners are still in their day jobs.

The team cheekily named the app Chug as it connotes taking large gulps of a liquid, which is what they hope people will do with the app.

Most of the participating outlets are places the trio frequent. The founders settled on the $14.90 subscription fee as it is, to them, the average price of one drink.

But prices may be adjusted in the future. Mr Eugene Ng says: "We want to make it as affordable as possible, but we also want to establish a credible number of subscribers before raising the price. That's in the future though."

Participating establishments, who sign on with Chug for free, are also on board with the app since it helps attract a different clientele from their usual crowd.

Restaurant and bar ME@OUE even created a summery cocktail called Chug Me specially for redemption by Chug users.

Mr Benedict Tan, assistant general manager at ME@OUE, says the take-up rate is low at the moment. "We do not have redemptions on a daily basis, but we believe the numbers will grow."

Expanding the number of participating outlets is always on the minds of the Chug team. It adds new venues every week and hopes to have 25 on board by the end of next month. It also hopes the app will be used by those who visit Singapore and it has plans to take it to the rest of South-east Asia.

Mr Eugene Ng says: "We aim to have a nice selection, almost like creating a Michelin Guide, so that whenever you come to Singapore, you'll want to visit these places."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Subscribe to app for free daily drink'. Print Edition | Subscribe