Young entrepreneurs take the guesswork out of determining whether bar patrons are over legal limit.
“‘I didn’t know,’ won’t be an excuse anymore,” says BreathAdvisor marketing director Sebastian Hooker. Sebastian is referring to intoxicated drivers’ first mumbled words when responding to a reading over the Utah .08% blood alcohol limit (BAC).
This just-launched Utah start-up is providing breathalyzer kiosks to local watering holes so patrons can test their blood alcohol content and make informed vehicle operator decisions. As the company’s logo states, “Breath Advisor’s got your BAC.”
“Given the opportunity, most people will make a responsible choice,” notes owner Jason Knott. But people process alcohol differently. “A lot of people don’t know when they’re beyond the legal limit,” Jason says. Determining your BAC at the bar alleviates non-abstainers from relying on a scientifically based but dubious formula of how many ounces per pounds of body weight will yield ‘ok’ or ‘not-ok’ to drive. “People who don’t know,” Jason reasons, “should have the opportunity to make that decision.”
“It’s an educational tool that is accurate and accessible. However, our official stance is don’t drive if you have any alcohol in your system,” Sebastian says.
BreathAdvisor’s inception is a classic right place-right time scenario. Enrolled in an entrepreneurial class at Westminster College, Jason participated in the college’s annual business plan competition. “I made it to the top ten, but I didn’t win and was kind of discouraged. Then I saw another company on the east coast that was promoting their breathalyzer units in bars. They had the same idea but were doing it all wrong. I couldn’t let someone else develop the idea before me, so the competition motivated me to revisit my business venture.”
The kiosk is a wall-mounted computer that contains a law enforcement-grade breathalyzer. At $2 per blow, users pay by swiping a debit, credit, or pre-loaded promotional swipe card. After agreeing to a disclaimer and following data input prompts, the user blows into the straw and within seconds is shown their BAC on the screen. Results are accurate to (plus or minus) 0.005. The data is then erased and there is no record linking the user to results. “We really want to drive home that the service is anonymous,” Sebastian says.
For the bars the cost is…nothing. The company will install and maintain the kiosks at no charge. In addition, BreathAdvisor will give a percentage of the individual kiosk’s revenue to the host business. “Owners have no reason not to want this in their bar,” Jason says. “The only resistance we have seen is from owners who had previous machines that were inaccurate.”
The kiosk is also a touch-screen computer that is connected to the internet. This design allows BreathAdvisor to load advertisements in real time and provide information to the user, such as cab company phone numbers.
These young entrepreneurs, Jason is 26 and Sebastian 20, are developing a business that utilizes cutting-edge marketing and technology. But they are also focused on civic altruism in the service they are providing. They are hoping that bar owners will join them in offering patrons the opportunity to practice social responsibility. “We want to help you,” says Jason. “We’d much rather tell you where you stand then have the cops tell you.”
In order to be a start-up company, however, you’ve got to start. “I can write a business plan all I want,” Jason states, “but I need to get out there and sell kiosks.”