Innovations That Matter

Coffee Joulies


We took a look back on the progress Coffee Joulies has made since May, and how they have developed from their Kickstarter roots to create their own online store with projections of seven figures of gross sales dollars per year.

Regular readers of Springwise will already be familiar with Coffee Joulies, a startup recently featured as one of our top 10 business ideas and opportunities for 2012. When we first covered the company — which produces thermodynamic stones to cool coffee when it’s too hot, and then heat it as it cools down — founders Dave Petrillo and Dave Jackson had just reached their Kickstarter target, enabling them to begin production. When we interviewed the pair a month later in June, they told us how the decision to launch the company through Kickstarter had helped get the project get off the ground quicker than would have been otherwise possible. At that stage, they were still working on supplying all of their Kickstarter funders with the Coffee Joulies stones. Now, nearly half a year on, we’re looking at how Dave and Dave have faced the challenge of transitioning from a Kickstarter startup into a fully fledged online store.
The six months after launch were largely dedicated to clearing the Kickstarter orders — 99.97 percent of which are now handled. Although welcome and necessary for the company, these Kickstarter orders were a huge commitment, and until they were processed it was felt that setting up an online store would have been overstretching the company. However, once completed, the pair were able to set up the store in mid-November, and began taking and shipping fresh orders. Sales so far have been promising, and while the founders recognize that early sales will have been boosted by pent up demand from the six months prior to the store’s launch, they are confident that they will see seven figures of gross sales dollars per year. While it was a relief to fulfil the Kickstarter orders and open an independent online store, the transition has also presented the pair with new challenges. Dave Petrillo told us, “Working with a fixed list of customers from Kickstarter makes a lot of things very easy. Shifting to a variable and moving customer base online has made logistics more complicated. Handling things like customer service and shipping has become a lot more time consuming.” As a result, the pair are looking to outsource such tasks as they move forward, and a consulting company has already been taken on to help with office related matters and to manage temporary staff. The challenge of running an online store with just two permanent members of staff has prompted Dave and Dave to move in together next to their factory so they were able to work longer hours. Given this heavy work load, beginning to outsource some of the company’s processes is a logical and necessary step. That said, the pair also feel they have learned a great deal by undertaking so much of the work themselves. Petrillo comments, “learning how all of these processes work and perfecting how they are handled is vital and will make automating them much easier when the time comes.” Of course, it also helps keep their outgoings to a minimum. While the pair have managed to cope so far without hiring any extra full time staff, they do have a strong relationship with their manufacturing partners Sherrill Manufacturing. Having previously shut down, the plant was re-opened, over twenty members of staff were taken on, and a new production facility was created in a few months, all of which was done in order to produce the thermodynamic stones. The facility currently runs two shifts a day which were non-existent before Coffee Joulies. Now the Kickstarter orders are largely completed and the online store is up and running, Dave and Dave can begin to look towards the future. The stones have achieved huge viral success online, but the pair are beginning to look at selling the Joulies through new channels, which will also lead to an expansion of the manufacturing side of the operation. Thought is also going into the development of possible new products. Coffee Joulies success so far has largely been down to the founders’ ability to setup and run their company without needing to take on extra permanent staff and increase outgoings until necessary. Petrillo told us how he feels the Coffee Joulies ethos is one of hard work, a willingness to learn and adapt quickly, and, above all, to be efficient with time. It is this efficiency that has allowed the pair to successfully navigate the turbulent waters of transition between Kickstarter and the real world of e-commerce. While outsourcing and hiring new staff is a necessary part of growth, the lessons learned from taking on early challenges solo can prove invaluable later. You can read more about Coffee Joulies in our article here, or visit the Coffee Joulies website here. For all Springwise readers, Coffee Joulies would like to offer a $15 discount on their Coffee Joulies Gift Packs. Simply enter SPRINGWISE when prompted in the online store. Offer ends 20 January.