UW Foster School of Business spends big bucks to reinforce new name with older alums; alcohol-delivery service finds Seattle a thirsty town.

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About 35,000 people just got fancy MBA or undergrad business-degree certificates from the University of Washington’s business school, though they haven’t been students for years.

The embossed, purple-and-gold documents duplicate what the graduates already had on their original diplomas, but with one subtle difference. Far below the large “University of Washington” lettered in Gothic script, and down under the graduate’s name and the degree there’s a small notation: “Michael G. Foster School of Business.”

Marketing 101 classes might debate whether the roughly $140,000 expense was money well spent.

There are no doubts, however, at the business school, which produced the mementos at a cost of $4 each in hopes of strengthening a connection to those alums who graduated before a $50 million gift prompted it to adopt the Foster name in 2007.

“Any time we can put purple and gold in front of our alumni, we like that,” says assistant dean Steven Hatting. “We’ve had a great reaction overall.”

It is, evidently, an innovative move. “I’m not aware of it having been done” anywhere else, says Foster School Dean James Jiambalvo.

Not after the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 received a $225 million gift to name the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, according to a university spokesman. Not when the University of Tennessee last fall took $50 million to rename its MBA program the James A. Haslam II College of Business.

“To the best of my knowledge this is not common practice of professional schools becoming named schools. It is not something that we have to date considered,” says the Tennessee school’s dean, Steve Mangum.

Even when Seattle University acquired, relocated and renamed the University of Puget Sound law school in Tacoma, alienating some alums, “We didn’t send diplomas out to all the grads” with the new school name, says spokeswoman Katherine Hedland Hansen. She adds that “a lot of people did want them,” and they helped cement a tricky relationship.

The Foster School’s Hatting says that in addition to calls and emails saying thank you, he’s had a few questions, including: “ ‘Can I get one without my middle name?’ Which I think is a positive, it means they want to display it.”

It’s all part of an alumni-engagement effort that will peak when the school marks its centennial in 2017, Hatting says.

The school counts on those alums for mentors, speakers, contest judges, job and internship placements, as well as philanthropic gifts, he says. “A connected alumni base is a huge asset.”

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com

Booze via smartphone

Pizza, weed and food can be ordered on a smartphone for delivery in Seattle, so why not booze?

Turns out Boston-based Drizly made that possible here in November.

Seattle was the ninth city to host Drizly’s alcohol-delivering capabilities and so far it has been the biggest market launch, in terms of purchase value, among the 13 cities where it operates.

“Seattle was a gold city for us,” said Drizly CEO Nick Rellas, 25.

He and a friend had the idea for Drizly in Boston in 2012 — they thought something as simple as getting alcohol delivered should exist, but it didn’t.

“For some reason technology and regulated industry don’t mix — they are like oil and water,” he said. “I looked at it as an opportunity.”

The friends started the company in 2013 and worked with another Boston-based company to create an ID-verification technology. It can be used with iPhones to scan an ID to make sure it is authentic and that buyers are at least 21 years old.

In the last 16 months the company has gone from a team of three to 35, and has raised $4.8 million from investors.

In each city, Drizly partners with local liquor stores to make deliveries. In Seattle it is Downtown Spirits, Ballard Liquors and University Liquors.

The three retailers pay to use Drizly’s technology, but deliver the booze themselves.

Marques Warren, CFO of Downtown Spirits in South Lake Union, says sales have increased about 25 percent since November when Drizly launched in Seattle. There also has been an increase in foot traffic due to the publicity involved, he said.

Downtown Spirits is adding delivery staff with a goal of getting delivery time down to about 20 minutes from the current average of 37 minutes. That’s still a couple minutes faster than Drizly’s average across all its markets.

There is $20 minimum for ordering and a $5 delivery charge, but the price of the liquor is the same as in the store.

It won’t come as a surprise that Seattle’s tastes differ from the other 12 cities using Drizly.

While nationally the top selling brand with Drizly is Bud Light, in Seattle it is Elysian. In its top 10, Seattle has three other Pacific Northwest brands: Deschutes, Fremont Brewing and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Drizly recently relaunched its website and mobile app to let customers review products and save favorites for faster purchasing later.

The one thing the app still lacks, said liquor-store CFO Warren, is the ability to order a keg, which is something many corporate customers like to do.

Coral Garnick: cgarnick@seattletimes.com