When Lisa Schloss founded Rad Locals, her vision was to make a website and app that could connect beer aficionados with breweries based on their preferences like types of beers, atmosphere at the brewery, tours available — that kind of thing. But then came the coronavirus.
“When COVID hit we were just in a place where all these different businesses are impacted – our business was impacted,” the CEO said. “We had to kind of stop operations of building out the application because people were losing jobs and so on. And that’s where was saw not just the breweries but also the restaurants and all these other places just take a hard hit.”
Watching local businesses struggle prompted Schloss and the Rad Locals team made up of recent SDSU graduates — marketing director Zara Wehrung and outreach director James Henderson — to shift gears and turn the website into something more than just a place for beer lovers.
“So we decided in a week’s time to just build our website because we noticed there was nothing at the time for people to log into that would show what was open for takeout, what discounts these businesses were trying to give, and also a lot of the stuff they were doing for first responders,” Schloss said.
Over 220 businesses signed up to partner with Rad Locals.
“As places are opening up, it’s still a struggle,” Schloss said. “There’s so much emotional and monetary damage that people are having to recover from. So we’ve been doing our best to promote and make these businesses.”
Recently, the website has shifted to focus on connecting customers with another subset of businesses – Black-owned establishments.
“Right now with what’s going on with the protests and the pain that our community is feeling, and the Black community especially is feeling, we want to be there for them and use this next however long we need to to promote their businesses,” Schloss said.
Schloss sees this trend continuing for the Rad Locals website, adapting to current needs of connecting customers to businesses.
“I knew I always wanted to do something in the community and it just happens that the point in time that I was ready to be in a place to be out there helping them, is when all of these occurrences and detrimental and history changing things are going around us,” she said.
Going forward, the fledgling tech upstart will continue to focus on support for communities in need and offer marketing help to any business, but Schloss said she does hope to eventually get back to the original objective of the company when it was born at SDSU — good beer.
For more information about Rad Locals, visit radlocals.co.
—Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at [email protected]