Outside the box
Stability in Flux
We had a watertight plan of how we were going to grow our business in 2020. It was entirely reliant on wholesale: supplying cold brew coffee to the hospitality industry in the UK and Europe. Our product is also somewhat seasonal, so timing was essential. But obviously plans are just plans, and nothing is for certain. By early March, lockdown was seeming imminent and we began to let go of our projections and started focusing on how we could weather the storm.
As a start-up, we’re pretty used to things changing overnight. With few overheads and a simple, essential, robust product, we’re not too fearful of losing everything. Our solution to the approaching lockdown was obvious – direct-to-consumer (DTC). Our website was already set up to take online orders and we were selling the odd box here and there, so the shift was easy. We dropped everything else and focused 100% on e-commerce. We predicted the online sales would go up somewhat, but that we’d still take a massive loss. Which is almost what happened. Except – we hadn’t really predicted the size of the potential.
We got to work on press opportunities and paid more attention to our neglected social media. By the end of April, we had been featured in Vogue, Evening Standard, Grazia, and TimeOut. The online orders began to flood in and by the end of June we had sold out of all of our stock. We listened to every single bit of feedback we got and shaped our online experience around the comments. Our product and service got much better. Then, as the world started to open back up, we pushed the wholesale again, but – as we all experienced – opening back up wasn’t as easy as anticipated. In a time of uncertainty for restaurants, cafes and bars, they weren’t jumping at the risk to stock our cold brew; taking a gamble on their menus was hardly top of their priorities.
We listened to who was using our product and why, to criticisms and as well as compliments. And we honed in on where our purpose and demand seemed to be. One section of the industry was crying out for a solution, and our current product wasn’t quite the right fit. So, we got to work on our new product. Our new product is built off demand and feedback. In the same way we fixed our previous DTC issues, we’ve fixed our current wholesale issues. This new product is the process of 4 years of industry understanding and increasing expertise. It feels like this product will show the world what cold brew coffee is capable of and coffee in general – and make us ever closer to fulfilling our original mission – making great coffee more accessible.