Is investment in your start-up food or drink business what you really want?

Simon Edwards co-founder of Beanify with his brother Stuart ,describes setting up his company and the pros and cons of investment at an early stage.

Simon Beanify BlogOur goal is simple… To inspire more people to love and drink freshly roasted coffee.

The concept was dreamt up by us shortly after graduating from University. With our passion for great coffee and good business we decided the time (and market) was right to launch our gourmet coffee club.

We knew we were on to a good thing when we would tell people about the idea and were met with genuinely positive replies. Typically, “That’s a great idea!”, or “I know someone who would LOVE that!”.

Leeds Met “Dragon’s Den” Investment Competition

Our intention was to ‘play’ with the idea of starting a gourmet coffee club early 2014, with a view to perhaps a mid-2014 launch.

Then in October 2013 an interesting opportunity presented itself: we were invited to take part in the Leeds Met University “Dragon’s Den” Investment Competition to win a cash injection, and support from one of the regions most successful IT firms.

This was the catalyst that encouraged us to bring our idea to life sooner. We dropped everything, wrote our business plan, produced our cash flow forecast, met with packaging suppliers, designed our brand, sourced our coffee, designed our product, and submitted our proposal for the competition.

We were selected to pitch against 9 other entries to an investment board comprised of several of Yorkshire’s most well respected business people.

This is where it got interesting for us. We “won” the competition. However, being new to the investment process we sought advice from business advisors and mentors within our network of contacts before making any decisions. The advice was unanimous…keep hold of the equity in our business in whatever way we could.

It was great to have a pre-launch offer but following the advice we received we took the decision to take another route, and to “bootstrap” the startup by leveraging help and support from our local business connections.

Deciding to startup without investment was a really difficult decision to make.  Though winning was a real confidence boost. We knew the market loved the idea of the product, and now we know that investors are interested in us too.

As it turns out, we made a good decision and launched in January 2014.

Starting Up & The First Roast

Getting the business up and running on a budget actually helped us to focus on our priorities and ensure we were really careful with every decision that had a financial impact. It also meant that we had to take a steady approach to starting up to ensure we got our product as good as we could before signing up subscribers. As part of this process we sent out ‘sample’ coffee subscriptions to people who have been helpful and supportive during our start-up stage. This allowed us to get live feedback from our market as well as treat our early stage supporters!

Happily we can report that the product successfully came together at the last minute. Our coffee tastes great, our packaging looks good, and our process for packaging and posting to our customers is smooth.

To find out more about Simon and Stuarts Gourmet Coffee Club