Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Athan Didaskalou from artisan coffee delivery service Three Thousand Thieves.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Three Thousand Thieves is a monthly coffee membership. Every month we hunt down and curate Melbourne's best artisan roasters, with their story, and then deliver it straight to your door. For the roasters, we offer them exposure and marketing for the month, helping boost their awareness and gain new life-long customers.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
There is one overarching business strategy we're applying: bootstrapped, profitable and proud. The model Three Thousand Thieves employs — where membership comes before product — allows us to have a positive relationship between cash flow and growth, and give us the opportunity to put profits back into marketing. Our marketing strategy is focused around the uniqueness of Melbourne coffee; Melbourne is one of the only cities in the world with the number and quality level of roasters we have. We want you to discover them all, to complement your existing coffee habit not compete with it, and learn about the culture that drives these passionate roasters.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Shipping. This is by far the biggest challenge for a lot of online retailers, and is around 40 per cent of the cost of doing business. We're a business that is ultimately built for global expansion from day one, so continuing to manage the shipping cost issue on a worldwide scale is going to be increasingly difficult.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
We are a curation membership business. We choose the best blends from multiple roasters. We don't favour one brand from the other. A lot of the brands already have their own subscription model, but it's only ever their own brand of coffee they're selling. The alternative is a sample business, where people send out samples of coffee only to try and get you to pick a brand so they can supply you full time. But this means you lose out on the discovery element and lose exposure for the other small batch roasters. We differentiate by offering a different coffee every month, helping roasters promote themselves to an audience that may have never heard of them before, boosting awareness and potentially their customer base.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Always a tough question. Apps, be it on the phone or on your computer, are skewing towards these single-purpose moments that do one thing really really well, which means you tend to rely on heaps of little ones as oppose to "the one that does it all". By and large, the one app I use the most is Keynote on my laptop. Keynote has become my go-to for putting together wireframes, prototyping features using Keynotopia, putting together pitch presentations, design mockups, and all with really simple usability. (That, and a little game called Finger Battle that I like to pull out at dinner parties).
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Treat your customers AND your suppliers like you treat your friends.
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