Equity Crowdfunding Energizes a Revolutionary Coffee Service

For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we caught up with Vincent Meyer, CEO and founder of GOfee, the first coffee company to deliver coffee-shop quality beverages straight to your office. Learn more about how they used equity crowdfunding and StartEngine to raise capital for their business so that they can grow from a coffee solution in Midtown Manhattan to a coffee solution worldwide.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How they created a marketplace that aggregated a variety of brands while keeping brand loyalty in mind
  • How they’re removing the issue of waste with today’s coffee industry
  • Their biggest challenges when starting the company
  • Why they chose StartEngine and equity crowdfunding versus other methods to raise capital
  • Their initial content publication strategy in conjunction with their equity campaign, as well as how it supported their campaign
  • The importance of continuously engaging with their audience and investors during the campaign process



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View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon: Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Enventys Partners, the top full-service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100 million for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now, let’s get on with the show. Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am joined with Vincent Meyer, CEO and founder of GOffee. Vincent, thank you so much for joining us today.
Vincent Meyer: Hey, Roy. Nice to be here.
Roy Morejon: So we’re going to mix it up a little bit on the show today and talk about the wonderful world of equity crowdfunding. So, Vincent started a company GOffee, which is the first coffee company to deliver the same drink one would order at their favorite coffee shop right across from the office. So, you guys had been currently delivering upwards of 1000 cups of coffee a day to offices throughout Midtown. And just recently, ending in October, you finished the full $1,070,000 raise on StartEngine for your equity crowdfunding campaign. So congrats on that, and really we’d love to hear where did this idea start from? What inspired you to create GOffee?
Vincent Meyer: Of course. It came from a combination of the things, but let’s be quit honest I’m pretty sure everyone dreamt at one point to go and create the ideas of I think is coffee delivered? Instead of going outside, like it is today in New York braving the snow or even worse, braving the long lines of the same coffee shop every day. So the idea came in with a combination of things we realized that, making a cup of coffee didn’t have to be as complicated as advents as people try to make it to be.
Vincent Meyer: Two, we also realized that every single office provide a coffee solution, it’s usually bad. I think it’s pretty rare for me to have worked in a place where I was amazed with the coffee machine that I was getting. And then three realizing that, people are starting to really be loyal to a certain taste, as they become acquired to a type of coffee, or cappuccino versus latte, or cold brew versus an ice coffee, and different brand as well where loyalty is very strong. So we figured out that if we could create our marketplace that would aggregate all the brands, all the different drinks, and then offer the convenience or make it delivered inside the office, as a solution could probably work. And that’s what we created.
Roy Morejon: So you’re not originally a New Yorker? I take it by your accent.
Vincent Meyer: No. I’m from Brooklyn with the accent obviously. Now, I was actually born in France, I moved to the US about 12 years ago. I lived in the West Coast for the first six years and then moved to New York about six years ago now.
Roy Morejon: Tonight you’re fully impatient with the current copy solutions if you will.
Vincent Meyer: It’s exactly that. When I was going in San Francisco, I discovered a couple of wonderful coffee shops and currently found out that I was spending 15 or 20 minutes at the time to get my cup of coffee. And now every time I travel back there I’m like, “What was I doing?” And in my mind, a cup of Joe in and out, I don’t want to be wasting time waiting in line.
Roy Morejon: So give me an idea on the process here. I mean, it looks like there’s a physical piece of hardware in terms of the GOffee cup and then the delivery, does it come in the cup? Or how does that process work?
Vincent Meyer: Sure. One of the challenges of delivering coffee is it has to stay squashing hot. You want to have all your drinks at 195 degrees to make sure that it tastes exactly like if you were to… Coming out of the nozzle of your coffee machine. So in order to do that, we invested in our own coffee cups that are allowing us to keep the coffee as hot as it would be if it was coming out of the coffee machine, even after 45 minutes to an hour. So that I was to do to solve the prime of delivery. The second thing that to be quite honest we didn’t honestly thought about originally, but it also allowed us to tackle one of the probably worst parts of the coffee economy, which is the waste.
Vincent Meyer: So every time you drink coffee and you get into the coffee shop or even at the office coffee machine, you probably use plastic cups or tugo cups that are not going to be easily recycled because of the plastic that is involved in the making of those cups. So with our cups, we not only keep the coffee warm but we actually end up going back and pick up all those cups at the end of the day, cleaning them up and putting them again at the circulation, removing the waste that is linked with drinking coffee today, which we feel is a pretty good mission and pretty good feeling.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. So what has been the biggest challenge you encountered when you were not only designing the product but the company itself?
Vincent Meyer: Yeah, I think the first thing is, you’re trying to talk to an industry that has been there and non-changed probably for the past 50, 60 years, everybody loves coffee in America, but the way of getting coffee has always been the same. No one has really been thinking outside the realm here of a coffee shop. And so for us to go and try to explain that, we would be able to aggregate all the different brands, we would be able to make the drinks in one location and then get it delivered with a little bit hard for people to understand, and even for us to understand to which extent we could actually do it, how much could we scale it.
Vincent Meyer: And then the second piece is from a business perspective, we decided to only sell to companies. So sell this as a membership, as a perk that we want to go and offer to companies so they can offer that to their employees. Interesting enough, when you think about the coffee budget, it’s probably best if exactly the same thing that the budgets that you have for your WiFi or for your desk. It’s a must have, but nobody really thinks about how to optimize it or to make it more efficient.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. So let’s jump into the equity crowdfunding campaign. So you guys chose StartEngine as a platform to launch it with. How long did you spend preparing for the campaign and what made you decide to go the route of using equity crowdfunding to finance your company?
Vincent Meyer: Sure. So I’ll start with the second question. We decided to do equity crowdfunding after spending about six months talking to, I would say more traditional venture capital and early stage VCs, and because we were more on the stage of what I would like to call a glorified MVP, we had a product where the first few clients… I think people were looking a little bit more on the traction already on our numbers from a VC perspective and didn’t actually want to listen to the full story. When we found that with equity crowdfunding we could actually present the full story in RPL to the passion that people have around their cup of coffee and the understanding of the convenience factor of our service. So we got pinched by StartEngine, we looked at their solution, we really liked the clarification that they were bringing into every step of the process and they help us getting our company ready in probably about a month and a half, and just below two months, which I think was really good from getting everything in shape from a legal perspective and the page and the marketing and then we were ready to go and launch with our own plan.
Roy Morejon: Excellent. So let’s talk a little bit about the prep work and typically in the marketing side of it, in terms of leading up to the campaign. What were some of the great things that you did to put your company in such a great financing opportunity for investors?
Vincent Meyer: So I’m going to actually say all the things that we haven’t done because I think that’s more interesting for most people. Success can one thing relate into our campaign. So I want to give a little piece of advice for people so they wouldn’t do the same thing. It took us 90 days to raise $47,000 and 31 days to raise 950,000. So the first 90 days were very difficult because we understood what we were not doing right and the truth was we were too much passive about our campaign. And I think a lot of people expect that because it’s your baby, you think the baby is ready so everybody’s going to want to invest. But the truth is you have to let go and do a good job at educating people about your baby and about what you’re trying to go and do.
Vincent Meyer: And that takes time and a lot of communication. So I think the mistakes that we’ve done in the early days, is we didn’t have a plan to reach out to a lot of people. We thought that we had a closed network that we’d always go in and raise the first 50 to 100 000 relatively quickly, and actually that plan wasn’t efficient enough. Because when you ask friends and family to invest, they’re not going to do it in tearms sensitive manner, which is what you’re trying to do. You’re refunding around the clock, against the clock in your campaign and people that you’re going to go to in the beginning don’t have the senses of urgency. So we highly recommend for people who are thinking about launching their campaign to really build before a good list of people that you know are going to invest in the first 24, 48 hours.
Vincent Meyer: Because if it is one big lesson that we’ve seen with our campaign is, money attracts money. And so in the early days if you’re not able to show traction, it’s going to get very difficult to go and get people on board. So that’s the first thing on the preparation as well, the thing that we didn’t thought about enough but was to prepare a good list of contents, and partnership announcement articles, blog posts that we wanted to put on a regular basis that allows people to read up a little bit more about what you’ve been promising and seeing it being mentioned either in the news or I articles in which will help validate their thinking process and then the last piece which is probably most of the biggest golden nugget I got into this whole campaign, is be prepared to pitch and you’ll pitch and you’ll pitch again your deck.
Vincent Meyer: Don’t think that because you have a nice will down page, people are going to read everything and understand it. Just highlight the points that you want people to really understand across your company and get ready to go and pitch that multiple time. We ended up doing a weekly webinars for anyone who wanted to hear more about our story. And we found out that we ended up realizing that that was probably the most efficient way to do it and speak to multiple people at once what explaining our business and taking their question live.
Roy Morejon: So did you have to do much advertising a Facebook, Instagram ads for the campaign itself?
Vincent Meyer: We decided to not do any of it because from a personal perspective, I felt that it was spending money that we didn’t had or didn’t really had yet into the campaign. So everything that we’d done was through organic outreach, a lot of that via email, phone calls, and then presentation, like I said, through webinars and then augmenting them through our blog post and social posts, but none of them were paid.
Roy Morejon: So how did you go about deciding on who your target investor was in terms of the overall audience?
Vincent Meyer: So here’s a lesson that I’ve learned. They are not the people you think they’re going to be. All the people that we identified that thought would be the easy one, ended up being people that either didn’t get money or got money very late. So I would say your target is everyone, this is the beauty of a crowdfunding campaign. So what do you think about leveraging your own network? It’s very time consuming but it’s really the way you’re going to get it. It’s based on casting the widest net as possible and you’re going to get some amazing surprise. I ended up getting on the spot investments of 1000, $2,000 for people that I didn’t work with for over six or seven years. And at the opposite people that, for me have been and are still very close friends, didn’t get the investment or got very minimal investment after pitching them multiple times. So I think it’s trying to preset or pre-qualify your list of investors is a little bit of a difficult game and I wouldn’t spend too much time on it. Just know you’re going to have to reach out and pitch to everyone.
Roy Morejon: So what percentage of the investors that came in were customers?
Vincent Meyer: That’s a good question. I think from the customers we got probably on seven to 8%, then thanks to the StartEngine network, we’ve probably got another 20, 25% as you start raising more money, you start being featured a bit more into the platform. And then the rest is from us reaching out to people, leveraging some, the webinar, leveraging some NGO investment community and really marketing our product.
Roy Morejon: So with all those marketing efforts that you guys put forth on this equity crowdfunding campaign, where did you see the biggest return?
Vincent Meyer: Hands down the webinar hands down the webinar. Being able to pitch [inaudible 00:14:28] just like we’re doing now, it’s not very difficult to set up, you just have to do it every week. Anyone can go and join and listen to your pitch, you have to keep it short and sweet. But more than that people can ask live questions. And as an investor especially in crowdfunding, people would want to make sure that voice is heard, and so for them to be able to speak to you directly while you’re pitching, I think is very important. And we found out that people were very reactive to those webinars and to those live questions and able to transform right away into investments.
Roy Morejon: Very interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about your experience with your investors so far. And I know the campaign just closed at the end of October as you mentioned earlier, but what feedback have you been getting from them and how have you gone about managing that feedback?
Vincent Meyer: Yes. The first thing that I think is amazing is level of support and encouragement that you get from your investors. Obviously it’s the holidays we have not let them down and we’re not planning to, but everybody’s excited to be part of the investment. And I think what they want to do is they want to find ways to help, which I think is very powerful. Two, they’re very open with giving you time to follow them or support… Sorry, comment on their feedback, which I think is very useful. But three I think it’s just making sure that you connect quite honestly with them every time there is questions or things that needs to be answered right away. There is some limitation and stuff that we can share while the campaign was running because as [inaudible 00:16:11] There was some stuff that we have to like… We can only share if they are backed up by an audit.
Vincent Meyer: So you have to be careful about what you say and what you’re allowed to say. But now that they are investors, we see them as an extension of our team and as them to go and share the post that we do, news that we share, and even engage them into some of the questions that we have for business with developing into… as you’re putting develop in multiple cities, getting some of that feedback is been very helpful and we want to do more of that.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. So what’s the, I guess, biggest surprise or biggest thing that you’ve learned throughout the whole process of launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine?
Vincent Meyer: I would say the number one is, get ready to spend as much time as you can, it’s a roller coaster of emotion. There’ll be days when you really feel like you have the bottom of the ride and also in a couple of seconds you can go very high. So get ready to have this emotional roller coasters and to just never give up. Those pitch will pay out, you just have to keep beating the pavement, you have to keep pitching and you have to be honest with your investors, and if they see that sincerity and honesty, they’ll invest in you as much as they invest in the premise of the business.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. So this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. I know you had your coffee this morning, so you’re ready to go. Right Vincent?.
Vincent Meyer: Yes. Introduce the false one so, bring it on.
Roy Morejon: Let’s do it. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Vincent Meyer: It’s something I’ve had in my blood since I was, I think born. So I can’t say what it does inspiration, but I’ve always knew that I would get where I am today.
Roy Morejon: So if you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to have a GOffee with?
Vincent Meyer: Well, being French, I have to go with a French preference, so it’d have to be Napoleon I, because he did conquest the world at the time, but something a little bit more contemporary today would use a Jeff Bezos.
Roy Morejon: Nice. Well Napoleon is the first on the show, so I’d be really interested to know what your first question would’ve been for Mr. Napoleon.
Vincent Meyer: It would be, “What kept you going in the dark days?” I think it’s a question that every entrepreneur wants to get an answer to. It’s an amazing experience but it requires so much valuation into the day to day that you need to be consistent and he was able to do it through a great victory but also through big defeats.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. Any book you would recommend to our listeners?
Vincent Meyer: Sadly I’m terrible at reading at books. I think that more and more part of the generation that have a very short attention span. So I would say I did read a lot of books, but I just read a couple of chapters in my case right now I’m very interested in what Starbuck has been doing. So I’ve been reading the book from all work shows, But in general I would say if you find a topic that you want it on more focuse on one or two chapters and make it yours.
Roy Morejon: Yeah, solid advice there. What’s your favorite flavor of GOffee?
Vincent Meyer: Oh, sorry, I’m actually cappuccino guy, I probably drink four or five every day. And one of the thing that has been amazing discovery is probably knew seven or eight big brands of coffee, and since we launched a campaign for the [inaudible 00:19:37] out of 10 that are more like local roasters and some of those coffee that are somewhat in small batch are just amazing. So I’ve been testing new ones probably every other week.
Roy Morejon: Nice. Last question. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?
Vincent Meyer: I think it’s going to continue to go big. I think there’s need a lot of do need to be a lot of education. People need to understand exactly what are they getting themselves into and I think for the entrepreneur, there’s still the fear that doing a round of crowdfunding is going to limit them in the future. It’s going to be overlooked by traditional VCs as it’s not something interesting or something that it’s not strategic to do. My perspective is actually those ones are going to be more strategic in the future than doing VC rounds. So I think that VC should be getting ready to switch or model up.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. Well Vincent, this has been great and this is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.
Vincent Meyer: Sure. Look, if you have an office, I know some people work in office in Manhattan, just go to GOffeeshop.com and tell them to go and check us out. We actually offer a three week of trial for every offices that sign up and we’d love to get your feedback on our website or surveys and we’re hoping to go and expand to cities where all our listeners are very soon into 20.
Roy Morejon: Well I can’t wait until you bring it down here to the South to Charlotte, North Carolina, but we’ll wait until then. Audience, obviously thanks again for tuning in, make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to Goffee and everything else we talked today and of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and product type. Vincent, thank you so much for being on Art of the Kickstart today.
Vincent Meyer: Thank you so much. Have a good one.
Roy Morejon: Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There, you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. And of course, if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review@artofthekickstart.com/iTunes it helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on enventyspartners.com thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.

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