Meet Suyog Mody and Anu Menon of Driftaway Coffee

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More than a narrative a couple of profitable small enterprise, Anu Menon and Suyog Mody’s story is about love, dedication, and a darn good cup of coffee. While Suyog is from Mumbai, Anu grew up within the Middle East, and the couple first met as undergrads at Georgia Tech. They then went on to work on the similar tech firm for years, earlier than giving up the steadiness of regular paychecks to launch a self-funded small enterprise in a brand-new class they have been utterly unfamiliar with. Eight years on, what began as the 2 of them roasting beans on a tiny roaster and understanding of their small kitchen in Brooklyn, has grown into Driftaway Coffee, one of the most popular coffee subscription services that delivers freshly roasted beans throughout the United States.

With their backgrounds in expertise, design, and model constructing, the couple firmly have their sights set on making Drfitaway Coffee the final word choose for espresso lovers.”But it’s been difficult rising a model with out capital,” says Suyog of their shoestring finances, which led them to embrace old-school advertising strategies of constructing real relationships with prospects reasonably than simply focusing on their social profiles. “In our own way, we’ve built something that we are so proud of,” he provides.

We chatted with Suyog and Anu about profession pivots, constructing a model together with your important different, and savoring success in a really unusual yr.

Anu: Once I grew to become a supervisor, I had reached this level the place I began asking myself if that is what I wished to do eternally. Around that point we moved to New York from London, and I made a decision to take a six-month sabbatical. Suyog and I used to learn and watch rather a lot of inspiring individuals who had give up and began their very own companies, and we got here throughout somebody referred to as A.J Leon and his spouse, the place they speak about how they began working collectively, which gave us the motivation to begin an organization collectively. In London, we had been spoiled with getting recent roasted espresso delivered to our home, and in New York we tried out a bunch of completely different subscription corporations and even roasters, and didn’t actually discover one which met all of our wants. So we figured… why don’t we simply begin there.

Suyog: One factor we took away from our expertise working a company job was that we didn’t need to be a hyperlink within the chain, we wished to be the entire chain. So that meant beginning one thing of our personal.

Neither of you had a background in espresso; how did you go about exploring this utterly new house?

Anu: We spent 2013 studying about espresso, brewing, roasting, the fundamentals. The huge factor is that it’s worthwhile to prepare your palette in order that once you style espresso, you’ll be able to really determine distinct tasting notes. So we might follow roasting a small batch, purchase roasted espresso from different roasters, and then examine it to ours. We additionally purchased meals acids to style individually to raised perceive the way to get that nuanced style in espresso.

Suyog: There’s no higher place than New York to dive into the espresso world. We plugged into the neighborhood and simply spent rather a lot of time self-learning. There’s no means for somebody to show you one thing. You simply leap in, begin, and do it over and over once more.

What makes the Driftaway Coffee expertise distinctive in comparison with different espresso subscription providers? 

Anu: We’ve by no means had a retail house, which is uncommon for espresso roasters. And on the opposite facet, online only-brands don’t roast themselves. We don’t supply a quiz, however reasonably a highly personalized Explorer Kit that has 4 completely different coffees and every has a selected profile — fruity, which is normally a lightweight roasted espresso from Africa; traditional, which is normally South American coffees; a balanced roast, which is extra Central American; and daring, a barely darker roast. The concept is that you could style these roasts facet by facet, then inform us which profile you want. We additionally do a brand new espresso each month.

Suyog: We’re a really sustainably minded firm. This yr we’re attempting to get all of our suppliers to cease sending us plastic. Even a compostable label firm sends their labels coated in plastic! So it’s only a shift that we’re attempting to make. Right now 80 % of our product is totally compostable.

What are some of the largest struggles you confronted through the years?

Suyog: The ongoing perennial battle of rising your model with out exterior funding. It’s all the time simply been the each of us who’ve put in capital into the enterprise, so not having the ability to spend to develop, or spend forward has all the time been difficult.

Anu: When we launched, Suyog would tweet at influencers, providing espresso samples, and one of them was tech influencer Marco Arment. We have been roasting espresso at dwelling utilizing a tiny microwave-size roaster. We despatched him some espresso and he cherished it a lot he tweeted out to his followers and actually in a single day 200 individuals subscribed. So we added one other tiny roaster at dwelling and we might take shifts roasting espresso. Suyog would do some earlier than we left for work and then I’d take over for the remaining of the day.

Has it been difficult working together with your important different?

Suyog: Not for me! I really feel we have now excellent complementary ability units. Anu’s strengths are design, consideration to element, whereas I focus extra on big-picture pondering. After the primary two-three years, we determined we might by no means work weekends once more. The different factor is that we principally obtained completely different groups. Anu has the tech, design, and rather a lot of the product-related work. And for me, espresso ops and customer support, primarily.

Anu: When you’re employed with different individuals, when you don’t agree on issues, you discover a extra tactful means of letting them know. But together with your associate, there’s a much bigger likelihood of being like, “no, you’re wrong.” The good factor is that it hurries up choice making, there’s no tip-toeing round one another, and we’re very trustworthy. At the identical time, even when we get irritated with one another, we variety of go away it separate and attempt to not convey Driftaway into post-work hours. Which is tough, however we don’t thoughts since we love what we do. We even have correct date nights the place we let ourselves speak about Driftway for the primary hour or so and then cease.

What was 2020 like for Driftaway Coffee?

Anu: When the pandemic began we didn’t know if espresso can be thought of a necessary enterprise, so we had the identical fears as many small companies did. But fortunately espresso is taken into account important so we have been capable of hold producing. This previous yr we grew fairly a bit, particularly since individuals have been trying to construct their at-home espresso routine. But particularly for 2020, we got here up with digital tastings. We employed a espresso educator and launched a new product the place you’ll be able to strive all of the coffees together with your family members whereas nearly hanging out with espresso educator who will train you what it’s wish to scent and style the coffees. This has grown to the purpose the place we’re trying to get yet one more individual to do digital tastings.

Suyog: We’ve switched our pondering from being nearly us and a handful of staff to a extra group mindset and how the group is rising. We need to be sure that everybody who works for us is taken care of.

What’s subsequent for Driftaway Coffe?

Anu: We are getting our personal roaster so we’re fairly enthusiastic about that. Over the years, we’ve both roasted at a shared roaster or completely different espresso roasters. Now we are able to roast day by day, which suggests more energizing espresso and extra management over the standard. Additionally, cold brew season comes up in May, and final yr we had one complete season of chilly brew, so this yr we’ll be doubling up on our manufacturing ranges. But be sure that to get your orders in ASAP.

Suyog: The theme for 2021, is rising up a little bit bit. The roaster is only one instance. Putting these programs in place will unlock issues for us to do over the following few years. Plus, we’re going to develop our digital choices. Lastly, be careful for us on social platforms. We’ve been awfully late on social, so rising our social presence is one other huge aim.

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