Sourcing an On-The-Go Coffee Mug in China – AOTK 143

In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we shifted the focus from creating and managing a successful Kickstarter or Indiegogo product to designing and manufacturing your product once the crowdfunding campaign ends. Join us to learn more about how to go about sourcing in China, how to build relationships with manufacturers and what to do about production delays.

Hey Joe Coffee Mug – Brew Joe on the Go

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How to begin sourcing in China
  • How to begin building relationships with manufacturers in China
  • Why you should visit several manufacturers before choosing one to work with
  • How crowdfunding can help you determine demand in the market
  • How product design is an iterative process
  • How to communicate product delays to crowdfunding backers
  • Why constant communication with crowdfunding backers is important


Connect with Hey Joe Coffee


FIN 2000X2000Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product.


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 Command Partners, the top full-service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over 70 million dollars 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 take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more, visit Now let’s get on with the show.


Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I’m joined by Jordan Warren. Jordan, thank you so much for joining us.


Jordan Warren: Thanks for having me.


Roy Morejon: Jordan, you ran a campaign back a couple of years ago now, in the Summer of 2014. Raised over 100K for the Hey Joe Coffee Mug. Tell us about the product.


Jordan Warren: The product itself was originally conceived and still is a battery powdered self-brewing coffee mug, so you can actually brew the coffee inside of your mug and drink it directly from the mug via battery power, wirelessly. That’s the concept in a nutshell.


Roy Morejon: Did this product came out of a pain point for you or what’s the back story?


Jordan Warren: Yeah, it actually did. I was driving to work in my car, because I drive to work every day. I don’t live in a place where I can walk or talk a bus. I live in Atlanta. Anyway, I was driving through a local coffee shop, staying in line. Got my coffee, took a sip. It was too hot for my mouth, so then I put it down it a cup holder, took the top off to let it cool down. Went over a speed bump on the way out of the coffee shop. Coffee spills everywhere. I’m cleaning this stuff up with napkins. I drice to my office with the top still off the coffee. Now it’s too cold and I put it in the microwave to heat it up and now it’s burnt. Then going through that whole process at that moment I just thought like, “This is not the first time this ever happened to me. This has happened a number of times and it’s frustrating that there’s no solution for it.” I actually thought of a mug that would immediately regulate the temperature of the coffee first and then it just snowballed from there.


Roy Morejon: Awesome. Your background, tell the audience what your background is about and how you got into that.


Jordan Warren: My background is in … I’ve been in product development for about 5 years now and started with more basic products like lawn and garden products, a lot of metal stuff. Pretty basic stuff, but through that process I traveled to China many times over a year, established a pretty solid network of manufacturers and sourcing agents, and also worked in retail, so I had some opportunities to get to meet and experience the retail process with Target and Home Depot and Costco and everyone in between.


Roy Morejon: In terms of being in the business of sourcing with China, it’s one of the topics that we typically usually don’t touch on in many of our podcasts. Can you give some insight to some of our community members on what some of those hurdles may be in terms of getting set up over there?


Jordan Warren: Man, that’s a great question and one I wish was more, I guess … That there was more information on, because it’s such like the secret topic. Unless you really go to China and get immersed in it or find a company that’s reputable to source for you, it’s really, really difficult to decipher to make an informed decision because, for instance, when I was launched on Kickstarter I was contacted by many sourcing agents. I’d say 95% were based out of China and the problem with that is, they may have the capabilities, but doing business in China, they’re socialized in a business setting different than we are, so it’s just a different context. Unless you know and trust the company that you’re working with, it’s really difficult to know that you’re going to get a product that you agreed upon until you’ve already invested in that manufacturer. It’s hard to give an answer to that, but it’s really a matter of trust and relationships, I guess. This is the best answer I can give to that.


Roy Morejon: How do you start building those relationships over there? Are there certain networks of people or is it just doing Google searches and trying to seek these potential sourcing agents out?


Jordan Warren: My particular route, I went direct. I happened to know multiple different sourcing agents and companies that are stationed in China. We actually have technically offices in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, everywhere like that. In my particular situation I happened to believe in directly visiting and spending a lot of time with these manufacturers, and overseeing the process and just really being involved. If you care about your product, I wouldn’t put it in anyone else’s hands, but that’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of sourcing companies out there that aren’t legitimate. I just don’t have much experience with them since I decided to take a more hands-on approach.


Roy Morejon: How did you decide not only to source your own product, but to use crowdfunding as a means to launch the company?


Jordan Warren: Well, I think because I was involved in such a different set of products before I moved into … Hey Joe Coffee being an electronic and extremely complicate electronic, more than we anticipated, so I think my aim there was to assess the market, get a feel for, “Hey, is there a demand for this type of product in the market?” It’s also, was a launching point for me to say, “I’m going to move more into the products that I’m interested in developing” so it was just an opportunity.


Roy Morejon: You had a few difficulties in terms of the product development and even though you specialized in this, you still ran into a few bumps along the road. Can you talk about some of those hurdles you had to jump over?


Jordan Warren: Yeah. The experience was a tremendous learning experience, but any startup, I guess, from concept to final product is going to have a tremendous amount of iteration through the process to design the product for mass production. Where we entered with Hey Joe Coffee again, because I was involved with a different type of product, the product was not as far along as it, I guess, could have been in order to get past some of those hurdles. On the same token, it’s just an iterative process, so the reason a lot of changes had to be made in Hey Joe Coffee was because we could have made it like we originally conceived it, but part of product development is not just designing concept. It’s designing something to be efficient on a mass scale when it’s manufactured. That’s the transition that happened there, it’s because it was such a complicated product, there’s 20 different factories in our supply chain.


We had to figure out how to optimize the manufacturing process not only for the final product to be functional and efficient in the consumers’ hand, but functional and efficient from putting all those 20 different manufacturers together to assemble that product.


Roy Morejon: What was the biggest surprise in terms of the production and fulfillment to all your backers?


Jordan Warren: It’s a good question. I’d say the two biggest areas that we had to deal with from a customer service standpoint were the extensive delay that we didn’t anticipate. It took us over a year to deliver, which in the world of product development is actually not that bad, but it was beyond our timeline, our estimated timeline. Dealing with the delay was definitely a problem. There was also a lot of backers. I think one of the issues with Kickstarter that I learned is that a lot of backers come on ordering the products with the understanding or with the impression that it’s like an e-commerce website. Like they go to Amazon and ordering a product that it’s going to ship out in a few days or maybe a month, and arrive exactly as it’s conceived. I think on our end the issue was, I guess, filling that divide between communication without saying, “Hey, we’re a startup. Bear with us” so addressing that understanding of, “Hey, there’s going to be changes along the way” and dealing with the delay that was beyond our anticipated ship date were the two major problems.


Roy Morejon: Got it. If there was one tip or two tips that you could give to any entrepreneur thinking about utilizing Kickstarter to crowdfund their product what would you tell them?


Jordan Warren: Wow. I would say expect that it’s going to take longer would be one thing and also a more constant communication with your backers is going to help. My particular process, I didn’t have any experience with Kickstarter at the time. I was more in a retail world and dealing with that type of model, so for me learning that you need to have a constant engagement, I would say you’re not going to have time to do that if you’re developing a product, so be prepared to hire someone to handle customer service and communicate with backers because that’s important to keep them updated. I’d say don’t give up and patience, because product development, it’s a long term ride unless you have a lot of money to develop something really quick.


Roy Morejon: Yeah, I know. Absolutely, I think it’s certainly critical in terms of the amount of communication that you need to constantly have with the community that you’ve built through crowdfunding. We’ve certainly seen that as one of our key tenets to make sure that everybody is in the loop in terms of those delays because they do certainly happen as you experienced.


Jordan Warren: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.


Roy Morejon: Awesome. Well, Jordan let’s get this into our launch round where I rapid fire questions at you. You’re good to go?


Jordan Warren: Sure, yeah. Let’s do it.


Roy Morejon: What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?


Jordan Warren: That’s a tough question to answer. I had some job offers out of college and then I just decided to do my own thing and it went well. Then after that I realized it was possible and I’ve just been aiming higher on every venture. I think the learning is really what keeps me going. Just learning and meeting people, I love it.


Roy Morejon: Awesome. If you could have coffee with any entrepreneur throughout history who would it be?


Jordan Warren: I’d say, currently living, Elon Musk. Dead, just because my generation and I’m on a Mac right now, Steve Jobs.


Roy Morejon: All right. What would be your first question for either of them?


Jordan Warren: For Elon, I think I’d ask him what he sees for the future of humanity in our lifetime and beyond, just because I think he’s tremendously insightful and we should all follow his vision, at least from what I see now. For Steve, I’d say what would have been next for now, what would have been next, or what’s the next industry you would have hit, just because he’s more of a marketing and product [route 00:12:43].


Roy Morejon: What book is on your nightstand right now?


Jordan Warren: What book is my nightstand? Let’s see. Actually Elon Musk’s autobiographies is in my next line of … I actually ended up with two of those. One is a gift and one I bought, so I have to read it on my next trip.


Roy Morejon: Time to re-gift it out, right?


Jordan Warren: Yeah, yeah.


Roy Morejon: Where do you see yourself in 5 years, Jordan?


Jordan Warren: Still doing this. I love it. I actually never thought I would get into product development. When I first started getting into, I was kind of … I like the creative process. I like marketing, I like things like that, so when I got into product development and retail it seemed more of an unromantic approach. Now I’d say I’ve just grown to love it and found the creativity in it. It’s all I want to do, following it. Our world is full of products and I see things all the time and think of solutions. I enjoy operating in that mindset.


Roy Morejon: Awesome. Last question. What do you think the future of crowdfunding looks like?


Jordan Warren: That’s a great question. I think about that often. I really think that there’s a long term opportunity for Kickstarter and Indiegogo and places like that, but I think with the caveat is, I think it really needs to … The thing that’s going to keep the infrastructure reputable is going to be, we need some kind of quality control or startups that are launching at Kickstarter really need to have some kind of guidance on this backend process to increase the success rates for these product launches. From everything from advising on cost structure before launching all the way through development, industrial design, optimizing for manufacturing, sourcing, shipping, logistics, all these things, most companies that are launching on Kickstarter, I don’t think know much about. I think that really we need to find a way to make those resources available to them quickly upon launching so that the reputation of crowdfunding can hold up.


Roy Morejon: I absolutely agree, Jordan. I know we at Command Partners are in works of figuring it out how that would be structured so that there is more trust and credibility out there for these campaigns that could be potentially questionable in the eyes of a backer, and make sure that we do instill that trust in the community that we’re building that the product is going to be delivered as advertised.


Jordan Warren: Yes, absolutely.


Roy Morejon: Awesome. Jordan, this has been great. Please give our community your pitch. Tell us where you’re all about, where people should go and why they should go buy your product.


Jordan Warren: Yeah. You can go to to learn more about our product. We’ve got all kinds of FAQs and videos and products that are on there now and that also we’ll be coming out with. If you’re like me and you commute to work or if you like to hike or camp or travel a lot, and you just sometimes don’t have time to make a Chemex or take the time to make a french press and you want to be able to brew coffee on the go at the push of a button, then that’s what we specialize in.


Roy Morejon: Awesome. Jordan, you’ve been great. Everyone, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit for all of the show notes, links to everything we’ve talked about and the full transcript. Jordan, thanks again for joining us.


Jordan Warren: Thanks again for having me, Roy. I appreciate it.


Roy Morejon: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you’ve loved this episode, leave us a review at It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands-on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.
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