2016-03-30

Useful > Cool

Shall we be good at commercial products, or shall we be good at artisanal products? That's the wrong question, folks. The question is how do you get good at ALL of it. Product over brand. Struggle, struggle, struggle. We're not going for originality here - we're not about cool, we're about useful. We're not building a hipster coffee shop. We're building a distribution network for hipster products. #staywiththetimespeople #canorcannot #doordie #yesdyingisok #canah #toomanyhashtagsisit

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We founded this business with foreknowledge of several industries that have come before. We considered first the third-wave coffee movement (its focus is quality, via supply-chain management), which itself evolved as an extension of the second-wave coffee industry spearheaded by Starbucks (its focus is convenience, via predictability). Moreover we reflected on the macro-trends of emerging markets (distribution channels) for artisanal and fashionable goods of all kinds (Etsy, Fab, et al), and for goods in general (Walmart, Amazon, Uber, et al), and we proposed to move within these currents.

Starbucks has consistently avoided aggressive cannibalisation of its classic coffee offerings. Whenever it tries to serve "better," coffee, the public's reviews are underwhelming. It's not hard to see how one can build a product that exceeds Starbucks' in terms of utility - but it remains an open question as to whether such products would be bankable. Now the point of startups is to determine the viability of any hypothetical business model. And that's where we find ourselves today.

If this is proven to be viable (where unit economics evolve around the unit of "outlets"), then most business growth potential won't come from the operations which solved the 0-to-1 problem... because the broader business model to be proven is not about whether you can run a bloody cafe that's dominant in the local neighbourhood, it's about whether you can displace Starbucks as the dominant brand for convenience... particularly, in the minds of an entire generation of cell-phone powered kids who have been empowered to more frequently think of themselves as hipsters, or as having hipster inclinations.

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