Last September our manufacturer made 10,000 litres of cold brew that all went off within 3 days when we were promised it would last 12 months. They didn’t take responsibility for this so we were left completely out of pocket. Orders that we couldn’t satisfy, and a reputation that had been damaged. We needed to find investment over the winter.
We had four big posters up in our office with the names of over 50 relevant investors. Slowly crossing off names, receiving emails daily along the lines of “we’re very interested in Solo but we’re unfortunately not able to invest at this stage as it’s too early and we need to see traction first”. It’s kind of fair enough, we were making a loss with no turnover and asking for 200k, it’s a tall ask. But, there was no doubt in our mind that Solo will be a success far beyond the average food and drink business. Regardless of how many times we had to ask mates to spot us or despite the fact I looked up how to file for bankruptcy, we believed we would work it out.
We were getting to the end of the list in March. One VC fund called us and asked for a second meeting. We spent 4 hours in a dark room passionately explaining our vision whilst drinking a copious amount of nitro coffee. A few days later, they gave us an offer. After reading the terms of the investment, our naive optimism (or arrogance) led us to turn down the offer. Shortly after, a new private investor counter offered the first offer with no funny terms.
In mid April, we received £200,000 from a private investor. The investor has a background in coffee, and faith in our vision (or arrogance). We then ordered a production run with our new manufacturer.
We’ve learned a lot from the arduous ordeal of pitching with no turnover. But mainly, we understood our true reason to exist. We refined our pitch deck about 10 times. It never involved adding more information, but taking away what clouded the message and emphasised what is important. We make it easier for you to drink better coffee, one of the most popular drinks in the world. We recognise that coffee helps you think and act more efficiently and creatively. We exist to support the doers and the creators. Any company can make cold brew coffee, but not every company can be Solo. So that’s what we will do. We will do the best job of being Solo.