Eight Point Nine Meets The Crowd
In ‘X Meets The Crowd’ I talk with entrepreneurs in the middle of their crowdfunding campaign. What’s the story behind their project? What are they looking for in an investor? Why do they think they stand out and what do they offer investors? Find out everything you want to know here, on our HelpTheCrowd Blog.
The way people buy and drink coffee is changing. It’s not just about the quality of the hot drink, it’s about the whole experience, the culture, that comes with it. Eight Point Nine brings that experience through people’s letterboxes straight into their homes. I spoke with Kris Hewitt, coffee lover and Co-Founder of the company.
HTC. What’s your ultimate coffee break?
Kris Hewitt. I have black coffee with my breakfast in the morning, to help me wake up a little bit. Let me just check what I’m drinking at the moment. So, I’m currently having a blend that is 50% Costa Rican and 50% Columbian, that’s my favourite right now. It’s very easy to drink, with some sweet notes like caramel, butterscotch, and chocolatey flavours, maybe there’s a hint of berries in it as well. I like drinking something for a bit and then trying something else rather than sticking with one type of coffee for the rest of my life. That’s the thing with our business and our business model as well, it allows customers to change if they want to.
HTC. Where does the name Eight Point Nine come from?
KH. It’s related to the number of grams needed for the perfect cup of coffee. We wrote a blog post about it as well way back in the beginning. We experimented and found the optimal ratio for us was 55.5 grams per litre. For an average 160ml cup, that works out at… eight point nine grams per cup. For a cafetière (french press) we also recommend letting the boiled water cool to about 96 degrees before gently pouring over the coffee and then brew it for about 4 minutes; this we think makes you the perfect cup of coffee. But, everyone is different, so feel free to experiment with those amounts and the times. Our name, Eight Point Nine is a bit of a play around that perfect cup of coffee.
HTC. What differentiates you from other coffee subscription services out there?
KH. In terms of our proposition, our whole thing is based around a quality product, convenience, and personalisation. Those are our three pillars if you like. We buy the best coffee we can get, and we want our customers to have their coffee in a convenient way. The convenience part is not only about people being able to use our website easily, but also about people getting their coffee regularly through the door.
The final pillar is the personalisation piece, which I think is the real thing that sets us apart. You can name the coffee and we see that is very popular. We’ve had some crazy names, the one I always tell people is ‘Superman Punches Horses in the Face’. The second part is being able to choose your blend. You get to describe your coffee in a way that you get to choose how it tastes, not how we want it to taste. That’s something that no one else does. We want to give the control to the consumer.
HTC. Can the coffee be used with any coffee machine?
KH. Yes. You can buy whole beans or we can grind it for you. We have three different grinds: an espresso grind, which can also be used in an Aeropress or Bialetti coffee maker (stove top machine), a filter grind, and a cafetière (french press), which is our default option for ground coffees; most people have that. You can change it though, so you are in control, not us. Another little tip, if you’re not super familiar with coffee; it’s best to grind your coffee as close as possible to when you’re drinking it, so buying beans and getting yourself a grinder can really improve the flavour and experience.
HTC. Where do you think the UK coffee market will be in three years time?
KH. I think the UK are a bit behind in terms of their appreciation of coffee. We’ve seen these sort of high end, artisan coffee shops – that have come in after the big chains like Costa and Starbucks. These artisanal shops have been around now for the last five, six years and I think these have helped build peoples appreciation and interest in coffee. Then we have seen magazines like Caffeine coming off the back of that, so people’s awareness in the UK and their knowledge has increased. That is spreading and what we’re seeing is that people want the same coffee shop experience in their own home. That’s why services like ours are becoming more popular.
For me, this will be the big change in three years, that people will create the coffee shop experience in their home. They’ll probably invest in more equipment too. I think that you’ll see that people will continue to buy good machines and once you’ve got the quality machine, you’ll also need the quality ingredients. That’s where services like Eight Point Nine come in.
HTC. Why did you decide to go for crowdfunding?
KH. From my perspective, we explored a little bit around VC, but one of the things we saw with crowdfunding was the benefit to the business. Not just the funding, but you get some marketing benefits to it as well. It’s also nice to get in friends, family and customers who have been keen to invest. We feel a crowd of say a 200 investors, all having a small share in the business, provides us and them with a number of benefits. We thought crowdfunding was a nice approach, we hope to get a couple of hundred people sort of shouting from the rooftop ‘This is an amazing company, look at this, I got a share in this great coffee business’. We saw that as one of the benefits of crowdfunding and that for me was one of the big reasons I thought we should go down this route. The main thing was that collective kind of experience of getting people involved.
HTC. Is there going to be an ‘Investor Only’ blend as a perk?
KH. There are some rewards in terms of different investment amounts. What we want to do off the back of this is create a community of engaged users, some of whom will also be our investors. We want to draw on peoples experiences. We have had people invest and saying ‘You know, I’ve worked in subscription business, so if you’d like some advice on this I’d like to talk to you.’ We definitely want to take this as an opportunity to use people’s expertise and advice, especially if they have invested of course. We’ll run a few investor events where we’ll do some exclusive tastings and use a bit of that wisdom of the crowd to shape some of the things that we are doing in 2016 and beyond. We’re going to name some blends after investors (or let them choose the names) because they’ve invested a lot of money so yes, they’ll be lucky enough to be featured in some of our stock blends.
HTC. Any special tips for entrepreneurs looking into crowdfunding?
KH. Not necessarily for entrepreneurs, but I think the general public should be made aware of the rigour, the vetting and the due diligence behind the pitch. I was quite astonished by how detailed it was and I come from a financial services background where things were crazy in this regard. I’ve got an MBA for example, so I needed to send my MBA certificate to the people from the crowdfunding platform, which made me think ‘Where I am keeping that again?’ I really was positively surprised by how detailed they were with things.
From an entrepreneur point of view, I would say be prepared that you will be challenged on everything you say and you need to prove it. For example, we wrote in our pitch document that 80% of people in the UK drink 5 cups of coffee a day, so we were able to complete the due diligence very fast as we had stored and organised all the evidence in one central repository. Another big thing about this is marketing. Go in with a strong marketing led campaign and with an attitude of getting the money on the first day or as early as possible. This can be really helpful because it forces you to go out and talk to people and get feedback as quickly as you can.