Building a Brand
A start-up coffee company shoots to become a national brand
- Duration: 2013 to the present
- Goal: support the company’s founder to grow the business into a national brand
- Partners: Individual specialists hand-picked for particular roles
- Deliverables: Ad hoc analyses of specific issues
- Interesting issues addressed: Strategy, Business Model, Staffing and Business Design, Product Development, Partnerships, Marketing, Capital Raising, Branding, eCommerce
Our client, one of the new generation of start-ups that came from vision, grit and some garage space, is a coffee company that sells mostly high-end cold brew coffee online. They compete against some of the largest and most well-capitalized beverage companies in the world, such as Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee, as well as mid-sized specialty companies, such as Blue Bottle. Coffee remains one of the strongest categories of consumer food and beverage spending and yet the vast majority of good quality coffee is consumed outside of the home.
Being a start-up means that nothing formal exists and the company is continually in a state of iteration and refinement.
Key question and answer
The key question for the engagement was then how can we best support a company that had so many needs at once? Our answer was to create an open-ended engagement that involves fewer formal deliverables and studies and more direct support to the founder across all key business challenges.
Start up businesses are by nature unstructured and need the most rapid iterative business cycles possible in business. The ability to pivot the business’ focus from one day to the next is the difference between remaining in business and being a company that used to exist. Our approach to problem-solving in this case is to be a senior advisor to the founder, helping him to think through challenges as they arise, including asking tough questions about what a specific course of action may mean to the business. Happily, the company is in its third year of operations and has gone from strength to strength, with appearances in the New York Times and LA Times, front page placement by the Gilt Group, unsolicited coverage by Shape Magazine, Delish Magazine, Imbibe, Yahoo Foods and others. We are deeply involved in the company’s growth planning and look forward to continuing to develop the company into America’s next great brand.