Thinking Outside of Your Industry for Unique Product Ideas
by Felix Thea Podcasts Sep 4, 2018 28 minute read Leave a comment Email Pinterest Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
In popular categories, it can sometimes seem like every good product idea has been done a thousand times over. But what if you’re just looking for inspiration in the wrong place?
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn from Raivis Vaitekuns, an entrepreneur in Latvia who found inspiration outside of the specialty coffee industry that he’d been in for six years, to produce a chocolate bar instead.
His company, Coffee Pixels, is reinventing the coffee experience by turning coffee into a mobile, ready-to-eat coffee bar with superfood qualities.
Imagine a coffee chocolate that really is more coffee than chocolate.
Tune in to learn
How to know which features to focus on when differentiating yourself from competitionHow to convince a retailer to test out your product in their physical storeWhat important questions to answer when designing food packaging
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Felix: Today I’m joined by Raivis Vaitekuns from Coffee Pixels. Coffee Pixels is reinventing the coffee experience by turning coffee into a mobile ready-to-eat coffee bar with super food qualities. It was started in 2016 and based out of Latvia.
Raivis: Hey Felix, awesome to be here.
Felix: Yeah, thank you for coming on.
So yeah, tell us a bit more about this bar, this coffee bar that you guys have created.
Raivis: Well for a listener, the easiest way would be imagining a coffee chocolate that really is more coffee than chocolate. That the texture-wise and actually from the looks, it looks just like a chocolate bar. The different thing is that it’s a bit smallish in the size, and yeah, and really, really different is that when you start eating it, you feel that it really doesn’t taste like chocolate, but rather like coffee.
That’s one of, I guess, the big successes we’ve had with the product, is that we’ve nailed the flavor of coffee so well that even people from the coffee industry, and as I consider myself one of the participants in the specialty coffee community, so people from specialty coffee community are recognizing the flavor as being good. They really find it as a coffee flavor. Because one of the problems with coffee products when they’re not really coffee as a beverage we know, is that it’s not really coffee flavor that we enjoy in the beverage, that we can experience in products like cakes, candies and so on. So the name is coffee, but the flavor is something else than the coffee that we like to drink.
But what we did, we made a bar that really tastes like café coffee, and that’s one of the successes is the product. As you mentioned, it’s super food, or it’s super food qualities, but it also tastes very good.
Felix: Now where did the idea come from? How did you discover that there was a demand for this kind of product?
Raivis: Well obviously we didn’t discover that there is a demand for the product. The product actually was created more like an experiment with the founding team, so it’s me and two of my cousins. So we used to run a coffee shop together. That actually was the first specialty coffee shop in Latvia at that time. So we founded the café and the shop 2010, so for six years we were just running a shop and developing the specialty coffee community back in Riga, Latvia.
But with that time, six years doing the same thing, life gets a bit boring and we started to look for new ventures. So we wanted to start doing something with coffee that would be a production business so we could have more of an impact outside of our local community, and spread out our product and our, maybe, ideas through the world.
So we tried different things. We tried something called cold brew, probably listeners know that as it’s quite big in States and Western Europe. So Latvia is a bit of a Nordic country, so people don’t really go for cold coffee so much, so that was a good try but not really something we could see as a business to develop.
But then the idea of making something like chocolate out of a coffee bean, actually we found it online. We are really not the first company that is doing something like that. At that point, we really thought that we are one of the first, but actually when we started to search around, we found that there are some other companies that are doing … basically making chocolate out of coffee beans.
So the idea arrived through online, but then when we tried out the idea and when we tried out the final product, we really understood that there’s so much to develop the product so it actually could be a business that we would like to work with, and to reinvest our time and to see the thing growing.
Felix: Yeah, I was going to ask, so there was already competition out there that you discovered, there are already companies that are producing something similar. Why did you, as a team, decide to proceed and move forward and try to develop this further, rather than just try finding something or essentially inventing something new? What made you say, “Let’s keep on going forward,” even though you find that there’s already competition out there?
Raivis: So actually, at the super early stage we really didn’t find the competition out there as the product or … these kinds of products, they are still very few and it’s not so easy to find the right words actually. How do you find edible coffee products online? So there are many type of granola-type of bars that are with coffee, and then people call them probably edible coffee.
At the early stage we really didn’t find the competition, so we proceeded in kind of a naïve mindset that we are the first ones, but obviously soon enough we found that there are some competition.
But one thing I have to mention why we are so different compared to other edible coffee companies or companies that make chocolate out of coffee beans, what makes us different is that we use the whole coffee berry, or called coffee cherry. The terminology is still not decided, but yeah, coffee is a fruit that grows on the tree and usually what we make a beverage out of is the seed of the fruit.
But what we are doing, we are using the whole coffee fruit. So it’s not just the seed or the coffee bean that we know, but also the fruity … like a shell that sits around the coffee bean whilst on the tree. So that gave us … our product also this fruity kind of flavor. So it’s not just bitter and chocolate, like what you experience in maybe darker roasted coffee, but it’s more like the specialty light roasted coffees where you experience notes of citrus and berries, and maybe some floral notes. So that makes us really special.
So we believe in two things, I must say, in the product. So we believe at that point the flavor of the product, so we still believe it’s really nice and we receive plenty of compliments over the flavor of the product. That was one thing. We really thought that we have not experienced something like this in the world, and til this day I must say with all the competition now on the spectrum, I still believe that our product tastes the best. So that’s one unique thing about the product what made us believe to proceed.
Other thing is that the recipe and the concept of introducing whole coffee cherry into one product, that’s something that nobody else has done so far. Also, this principle of using coffee bean and coffee cherry part together makes our product the first truly wasteless coffee product in the world, meaning we produce something that you can eat and get your caffeine kick out of, but no waste is created. We don’t throw nothing out in the bin, so you just eat whole coffee cherry as it was sitting on the tree. Obviously we process the parts separately, but then recombine them back into one bar.
Felix: Yeah, so obviously you found this secret sauce and angle to change, in your version of the product, to stand out above the competition. How did you know to focus on those aspects of the product rather than some other angle or some other aspects?
Raivis: Well actually, what helped us what the fact that we were also active players, at least in Latvia, and participants in the whole European specialty coffee community. Specialty coffee is all about saving the coffee industry from dying in near future as coffee producers who still receives extremely small wages, and they are starting to look more and more how to get alternative incomes that would make their life better.
So sustainability was this big issue, and is still big issue in the coffee industry, and there’s a light bulb went on when we thought that you can make coffee which is really delicious from the whole coffee cherry. So that was this one property that we thought, “Well this is something that we should bring out in the world.”
Yeah, I think this is the main fact about Coffee Pixels, where we still believe that it’s needed in the world. Well now we know that it also works very well and how the other findings that we’ve found later on when starting to build a business, and look more deeply into what we’ve created at the beginning.
Felix: So you and the founding team were running a coffee shop together. How did you guys find the time to develop a product? How did you split up your day and your time so that you had the time to work on developing Coffee Pixels?
Raivis: Well you know, as many people I guess will agree with me, when you run your own business, you don’t kind of [inaudible 00:11:37] hours, you just do things based on your passion and drive. Once you get this new idea that you really want to try it out, you don’t really have problems finding time to execute on it when it’s really something that you will just do whenever it’s possible. It can be your free time, it can be a night time while your family is sleeping, it’s just you want to execute on the idea. The same was with Coffee Pixels.
So we were having meetings after the work, while we were running the shop, and the first prototypes of the product were also processed at home, not really in a production facility. So it was really like you hear those stories when you start out in a garage, so we were running a coffee shop so we had this platform where to try these ideas out, but we spend extra time that we just had, as free time, so we spend our free time to develop the idea. Then we tried idea out in our own platform. It went well, very good together.
So if we wouldn’t have the coffee shop, then we would have another problem where to try the product. Where will people really buy it, or is it really necessary? So we started selling it at even … you know in a coffee shop you can bake a brownie, and you don’t have to make a packaging and all the things around the product that we have now, and you have to have when it’s a separate business. But at that early point we just made a bar, and we could try it on our own community and our own customers, and hear what they think about the products.
Felix: Yeah, that’s a really good point that because you owned a shop, there were a lot of barriers that you could remove, and you could take advantage of certain assets that you already had by owning a place that people were already coming to. You didn’t have to package it up or anything. Now as someone that owned a … Do you still run the coffee shop today?
Raivis: No, not anymore. Running a business that we believe will grow internationally as a huge company, from the super early stage it asks for a lot of energy.
As someone that owned a shop, if someone out there were to approach you and want to test their product out in one of your shops, is that something that you would typically … For anyone out there that doesn’t have the access to the assets that you had at the time, but wants to try the same approach by going to a shop for example, and seeing if they were willing to place their products into their shop, what kind of advice can you give there? As a shop owner, what would convince you to allow someone to place their product in your store?
Raivis: Well first of all, the product has to be really good. I think that the world is complicated, but then on the other hand, when the product is really good and you really haven’t seen something like that before, I think shop owners, they would just be curious about how this thing works with their customers. So we had some creative ideas in cooperation with creative people, and we had tried out some other experiments. Probably not food, but some posters and we actually did a calendar once, whereas the shop we used to run wasn’t just a coffee shop, but initially it started as a coffee and bike workshop. So we had had some other ideas that we did execute also in the shop.
If it’s creative idea, if it’s really quality and if it’s not another idea of product where people … you know sometimes you just don’t need any more new products. Like nowadays, one of the examples from my mind, iPhones have those stabilizers when you can attach your phone and you keep it in your hand. This one product is really good, but then you see someone else made a product just like it. May be [crosstalk 00:16:30]-
Felix: The pop socket.
Raivis: … more bought them, yeah.
You don’t need many businesses doing the same product type, so the same with … If I had run a shop, and let’s say if I produced my own brownies and someone else comes and says, “Hey, here are my brownies,” which are a bit different, but then I say, “Well they’re pretty much the same man.” I would say if the idea is unique, or it’s really well executed, or it’s really high quality, shops should be interested to provide this value to their own community.
Felix: I see. So you can’t come in with a product that’s just maybe a little bit different, or maybe a little bit better than what they are already selling? You have to come in with almost a new category? In your example-
Felix: … you have a bar which you practically, at least here in the US, you don’t really see … I don’t see anything like this at all when I go into a coffee shop. So you got to bring a completely unique product that can almost, just by looking at it, you can differentiate it from the existing products that are in the store already?
Raivis: Yeah, exactly. So things like that, like if you’re in a shop, I would sell a bunch of lemonade, stuff like Coke and similar. So if you would come in with something that, “I have a new lemonade. Come on man.” Well, the world is full with lemonade. But if you come in with, I don’t know, birch sap lemonade, which is something you haven’t experienced before and something really unique.
Other aspect is that it’s not just unique or it’s not just new idea, but it’s really well executed. That’s one of the big problems as well I see. There are all these people develop the ideas just because they’re new, but I think this property of new product, it’s not something that you will sell the product later on based on this feature, as it’s new. So in two years it’s not going to be new.
Felix: Yeah, so I was going to say, it actually has to solve a problem. You can’t just base it or bank on it being new and novel. It actually has to have longevity, it has to actually solve a problem.
Felix: Yeah. How long did it take to create a version of the product that was ready to be produced at scale?
Raivis: I’m going to say about half a year was the time where we were … from the moment when we decided, “Let’s do it,” til the moment when it was ready to showcase to people around us. Obviously the product has developed with super small steps since then, and probably people who are not so involved with Coffee Pixels, they probably hadn’t noticed some changes that we’ve done. But yeah, it was about half a year with experimenting, and then finding the right recipes and fine-tuning and learning the craft.
Actually, I must say it went quite quickly I guess. From what I’ve heard from other people trying new ideas and how long it usually takes for them to develop something. For us, it was half a year, and I must say it was, yeah, quite quickly.
Felix: Why do you think it happened so quickly for you?
Raivis: I think we had the necessary know-how, so we had the knowledge about coffee already. As I was also in the world with specialty coffee [inaudible 00:20:23] as one of the trainers for the regions, so we had the know-how about coffee. So we were really not searching in the darkness, we already knew the approximate direction, where to go.
Then all the necessary new information that we had to learn was also there as we really had to find a way how to make chocolate from coffee. The internet is full of knowledge, how to make chocolate. So all the chocolate, obviously add cocoa powder and then a traditional recipe.
But yeah, that was one part, and I guess probably one of the other reasons was that we had this drive to make it happen. We really wanted it to work. We didn’t take time off to try new stuff and to try new versions.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
As you were developing the product, to you at least, what were some of the most significant changes that you were making during the prototyping, or the testing and developing phase of the product?
Raivis: It’s the positioning of the product in the market. So I have to say that there were not super huge things or aspects that we did change during the product-typing phase. We were really driving for two versions of both product, we found one of them more quickly as it does involve a milk and everyone know how coffee and milk works together. So that was kind of quick job, and then it took a bit longer for that other … like original, or cascara version, to be made.
Felix: These were differences in taste or what was the-
Raivis: Yeah, they are mostly differences in taste as one is more like a cappuccino or a latte, so more of a milky-style coffee. Another, or the original one, the one with coffee cherry inside, so it’s more like an espresso or black coffee.
So I have to say that til the moment when we made the bar and the flavor, we didn’t really have huge changes in the process. But the big changes started afterwards when we really wanted to package the product and we started to look for the market where we really should offer the product. As people believe that it’s nice, and it’s necessary, and it’s delicious, but then what else? Is it just because it’s delicious? Is it just because it’s a novelty idea? So we really had to find a way how to package it for the consumer, and that is a journey that we are still on, and there are many questions that we are still looking for answers now.
We have had the product package more as a [inaudible 00:23:48] where you look for an experience in the flavor, and you have this special moment like with quality chocolate. But then again, we found that people are really buying the product not because of the flavor, but more because of the boost that coffee gives them. So we redesigned the packaging and redesigned the messaging around the product.
That was the biggest shift in our direction as a company as we went from specialty coffee and this flavor experience-driven, to someone that is now, I would say, more like energy bar and performance-driven. It’s still delicious, it’s still super sustainable like no other, but we see that our customer is not really looking for the bar because of the flavor, but more because of the functionality that the bar provides.
Felix: Yeah, so it sounds like you guys put together packaging early on, but then had a lot of open questions on if this is the right approach, is this the right packaging. What kind of questions today are you glad now that you have the answer to through your experience? What kind of questions about packaging do you feel thankful that you have the answer to?
Raivis: Yeah, well one a bit more specific question in our case is that in the beginning we were struggling how big the bar should be. How big is the product that customer should buy? So in the beginning we went for something that is like a double shot espresso in strength, and then size-wise it also was a bit larger.
Now we’ve found our perfect [inaudible 00:25:51] factor with this small bar that is just like one espresso in caffeine, and it’s super handy, it’s super easy to use, easy to open. The pack is sealed, you can go surfing with it and it’s protected from the elements. That is something that I’m glad that we’ve found our face, like products, like this energy functional chocolate that’s made from 100% coffee, so yeah.
Felix: How did you arrive at that answer to change the size? It was almost like you cut the packaging in half?
Raivis: Well yeah, we cut in half almost because it was like two bars on top of each other. It wasn’t like bigger one, but more a thicker one. But we just were listening to what our customers say, and we were hearing that customers liked to use it on their daily adventures. They find those small moments in their day when they can experience the edible coffee. But then again, they’re reporting that they would like to save it for later times because it’s open already, and they don’t want it to be exposed to environment.
So that was one thing that today, again, they were complaining that, “Well, for such small of a bar, the price is bit high.” We were listening and just taking the notes, and yeah, it’s just listening to the market. That’s all.
Felix: How are you agile of flexible enough to just redesign a packaging like that? What’s your setup to be able to just react that quickly to feedback from customers?
Raivis: Well it wasn’t quickly. The packaging, it almost took a year for us to find the right questions and answer to them. The company was established in late 2016, but around October 2016 we already start having the first packaged versions of the product in our café. We still saw it as an in-house made product, but it was wrapped in a packaging. The flexibility was just from the fact as we were selling so little, and everything was done by hand. At that point we didn’t have a huge [inaudible 00:28:40] of packing pre-order upfront. So we just decided let’s try something new with the next batch of packaging.
So we were really kind of starting small and experimenting with everything we could possibly experiment with. Packaging, messaging on the packaging, messaging on socials, and calling the product different names and watching what caused the best. So yeah, as the company was super small or the capacity that we produced was super small at the early stage, and they’re still not huge now compared to what we are expecting in the future to come. But yeah, that’s what made us being flexible, the small scale.
Felix: Got it.
So for a food product, what are some of the key messaging or key design elements that you recommend store owners or entrepreneurs consider including on their packaging?
Raivis: Well this one’s tricky because I must say that when we think a wrong packaging, we usually don’t look on what others are doing as we really try to design our product from the scratch. Probably that also makes us step on the same mistakes that some other companies have probably gone through already, and probably we could learn from them but we really want to be different as a food product.
So we actually, when we speak about identity of the Coffee Pixels, we really get inspired from what tech is doing now, what tech startups are doing, and what’s their approach to design. Actually with Coffee Pixels, sometimes we have, at least I think, internal joke that Coffee Pixels is just a new application for coffee. The old application was the liquid one and this one is a bit better. It’s more sustainable and more mobile.
We try to really live with this tech-style mindset, so we also see that when we go out in some trade shows and we compare our product to some other products in the market, whether they’re chocolates or coffees, we see that our product is really standing out.
That would be my suggestion to other food entrepreneurs, just don’t look into what food’s been doing for years and years. Probably you should look into what other industries are doing and what people like from other industries, and maybe to kind of experiment and make something new out of ideas that are used to … Probably people thought about making chocolate or coffee tech designed product would be stupid idea maybe in the history, but at this point I think people are excited to see something new, something that they haven’t seen before.
So yeah, my suggestion would be not to probably have this must-have point, but rather don’t take anything serious from what’s been done before and try being creative with your own ideas, and mix-match industries and designs together, so yeah.
Felix: I see what you’re saying. I think that’s a great point about how you can only go so far by looking at what’s already happening and what’s already happened in your industry, in your category. But if you want to bring essentially some revolution to the industry you’re in, you should try to be inspired by what other industries are doing, see how you can apply what you’re seeing there to your business or your brand.
Can you talk a little bit about this? Like what are some things that you’ve noticed in your example, in the tech industry, that you as a team want to or have ported over to your business?
Raivis: That definitely has been the whole startup mindset, as usually at least in origin it’s not so common to build food companies in a startup manner. So we can raise some early investment, and you develop some product types, you try things out. Then you probably raise some more money. Usually if you have this food type of company, it’s either backed with some big cash, or you just start small and you struggle slowly. Slowly up with [inaudible 00:34:03] mistakes and successes as it used to happen for a century. But one thing that we, at least in our market that’s different, was having the startup kind of mindset.
It also drew some success through us as we were also going to startup conferences. As they were not really specialized into one or another type of startups, we were openly invited and accepted there. But then again, let’s say there’s one startup conference in Estonia, and we went there as just a showcase, or product, as just a startup to participate, but then again we found that we are the only non-tech startup in the conference.
It gave us much more of a spotlight compared to what everyone was doing, as everyone else, they were competing against each other with their tech solutions, but we were standing out. Oh. People came here and really were surprised that we have something tangible, something that you can experience in real life that’s not a digital product.
So that was something I would also recommend to other people. Just go out there from your probably the comfort zone for you, comfort industry and try to get in to some other industries. It should be always tech. Probably you can, I don’t know, make beer and go to probably dog expos and promote your product to dog owners, whatever. So just don’t stick with what’s been done for many years, and-
Felix: Right, you don’t want to be a food-based business and then go to a food expo. I mean you might want to, but you’re not going to stand out the way that you would be if you were to go, if you were the only-
Felix: … food business in, like in your example, in a tech expo.
What made you choose the tech industry specifically? What attracted you and your team to focus on, pay attention to an industry, and trying to get into that industry, and getting into these tech events?
Raivis: Well, then the story’s a bit long. Actually before making Coffee Pixels, I must say, all of the team was really getting into … How to call it? Now just modern times and personal development, probably. Then you listen to podcasts, and you listen to successful entrepreneurs, and you listen to opinion leaders. One of them definitely I have to mention is Gary Vaynerchuk.
Those guys are usually speaking about startups, and they’re speaking about their success stories, and they’re usually all about tech companies. Some probably were … I don’t know. Maybe Quest bar was one of those inspiring stories which wasn’t a tech company. But in most cases, like 99% of those were tech companies that were those unicorns that disrupted the market. They did really inspire us to build a company that would really conquer the world.
So it’s just as at that point when we were learning, the tech industry was booming in the same time, so it was just an influence because of the fact that we lived in the same year and time.
Felix: Got it.
How do you measure success at being one of these events?
Raivis: Oh right, so one of super bright examples is at the same conference I was telling before in Estonia, so there was a pitch competition. There was this special prize from Fukuoka city, which is in Japan, the fifth largest city in Japan. So they were looking for startups to support in entering the Japanese market.
So obviously we won the competition for this prize, and we have some activities globally, but steadily developing in Japan. A month ago I just returned from Japan where I met finally the people that invited us over and are helping us to start to working in Japanese market.
So super bright example, so developing your business in Japan is a super opportunity that we were not really looking into and expecting before. Then again, some other show brought us a large customer, like telecommunication, like a cell phone company that bought a huge amount of Coffee Pixels as a white label for their parents and customers.
So yeah, you either get a deal or you get the support somehow, but we definitely had felt that it’s been a success for us, yeah.
Felix: What about online, what’s working for you with the marketing and getting the brand out online?
Raivis: If we speak about marketing and online, we are still considering ourselves doing our first baby steps because we have this know-how, how things should work, but as our strategy and our growth and everything, like our daily routine is as it is, we haven’t had the opportunity to execute on everything that we know that it’s necessary. So at this point, online is doing some part of our business, but as our product is so … it’s so different to what people have experienced before because edible coffee is raising a lot of questions.
We have tried to develop not just online, but also in retail. We’ve seen that for super early stage, retail is doing slightly better because people get experience to try the product sometimes. Like you have this [inaudible 00:41:04] opportunity and they try it, and then once they understand what it’s about, then they go for a purchase. But with the online, we definitely look on online as a main sales channel in the future.
So we are all about providing a value to a customer, and we are doing some blog posts, and we are updating our customer on the industry news, so it’s coffee mostly. We see that the online, it needs a lot of job to be done prior having this huge success and huge growth that people sometimes think is happening overnight. But as many, many businesses that have had this kind of growth or overnight success, they are saying that it actually takes not overnight but over a couple of years, and then just people notice one night and they think that it’s just pop up.
But yeah, it takes a lot of time and for us, it’s the same. We continue developing our content. It’s still not as frequent and not as much as we really look forward to it being, but yeah, just doing what we can at this point.
So speaking of the day-to-day grind, what are some day-to-day tasks that you, or you as a team, try to hit on on a daily basis to grow the business?
Raivis: Well at this point, well, we are still in this early stage and while we are doing everything within this small team of seven people. So we have two people in production, two in offline sales, and the three founders, we are managing production, we are managing marketing, online sales, and PR and communication. The daily struggles, well some of them are just to sell the product physically, so just to mail the delivery so it’s super fast as probably some customer has requested. Sometimes things go wrong and you have to find a solution.
But yeah, in this stage where we are now, I have to say the struggle is not something … one specific, but the struggle is just to get along with everything together. So just to find a focus for one thing, they can execute it, finalize it, then get into another, because sometimes you are starting to work on your task and then some loud voice is calling you to the next task because it’s important to someone else. We don’t have a huge team to delegate at this point.
So the struggle is to find the right time for right thing, and definitely being consistent with the online content is something that we are struggling a bit as none of the guys from the founder team, we are not really Instagrammers or YouTubers ourselves, but we really understand how important and necessary it is. So we learn [inaudible 00:45:03] while we’re growing, and yeah, those are most of the struggles.
Felix: So the offline sales team members, they are going out to sell the product to retailers, or what’s their function? What’s the function of their role?
Raivis: Yeah, well we are agreeing on the markets that we are going to execute them. Once agreed, they are looking for prospects in the market, and whether those are resellers or distributors, or just the partners that we do direct sales with. Their daily job is to do the sales over the mail and phone. Make it happen so that Pixels are in some retail chain or gas station chain, which is one of the hugest surprises for ourselves, is that a product like this which is really a next-generation product in the sense of sustainability and the functionality, that it found its place also in a traditional gas station chain. So their job is just to do the sales as traditional offline product. Yeah, but I don’t expect huge growth for this particular department, so I expect more of those for the online department.
Felix: Got it.
Now speaking of online, with the website, was this designed in-house or how did you guys get that website built?
Raivis: Yeah, well at early stage when the company was forming, we had some help from a design agency. They helped us with the super early landing page, which was alive for I must say some three, four months, and then we started to develop, still together with them, this Shopify-based webpage. Now it’s maintained by ourselves, by me and my cousin who is more into online marketing.
Yeah, so there was some help from a design agency in the early stage. They did initial design that we continue to work with, but then again I have to say that we are collecting the notes for future update that’s hopefully going to happen this year. Our webpage will become more serious, more content-saturated. Yeah, a place where it’s more exciting to spend your time.
Felix: Got it.
What about applications? Are you using applications to help run the business, or to help enhance the store?
Raivis: So we’ve had some tests. We’re using a heat map and a list builder from Sumo app. We integrated MailChimp and MailChimp Newsletters is something we are also doing. Not very frequently, but we’re trying our best to become better. We have some plans for subscription services and subscription by Bold that we’re looking into. We also tried a live chat trial version, but at that point our track was a bit too small to really have any influence on the way the webpage works. Yeah, those are the main applications.
Then again, besides applications, on Shopify [inaudible 00:49:19] that’s Slack, what I guess everyone’s using nowadays instead of emails. What else? Some applications like Pipedrive. Well, that’s more for our offline team. Yeah, I guess that’s it.
Felix: Can you talk a little bit more about the heat maps and list builder from AppSumo? How do you use those?
Raivis: Well I cannot really talk a bit more as my cousin is the one who is really hands on these applications and fine-tuning [inaudible 00:49:56]. I know that we are looking on a heat map to find what customers are doing on our webpage, or what is subject of their interest. So we really try to work with the messaging at the locations on the web where we see that customer is spending too little of their time in opposition to what we’re planning. So yeah, just tracking how our customer is doing online and how we can make their experience more pleasant, and how we can make them to get the messages that we’re trying to push out.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
So CoffeePixels.com is the website if anyone wants to check it out, check out the product. There’s actually a very cool looking product. I love the brand name and how it’s related to the design of the product itself. Where do you see the business a year from today?
Raivis: Well that’s a tough one as we are really looking for next round of investment in that. In investment, we have included setting up the team with the necessary professionals to really start working more on the content and the delivery of the content, and all the IT side of the webpage. So in a year, I really think that we will be set up as a team so I will myself finally get into content production, which as I used to be a barista trainer, I really find myself into delivering complicated messages into simple manner. So that’s something that we want to do with Coffee Pixels.
So there’s plenty of fields to explore like nutrition and energy products, and just lifestyle products that relates to being productive and energized through the day. My drive is to really getting into understanding complicated stuff and making it simple, and to deliver over a different type of media, like blog posts and videos that’s something which we’re not doing yet. Hopefully within a year we will have a solid history with videos that we will have already made at that point.
Obviously in a year I hope to launch our business also in the United States, as currently we are focusing on Nordic Europe, Central Europe, then there’s some separate activities, Japan, some leads in Australia. But definitely a milestone for the future is launching Coffee Pixels in the West Coast United States. Seattle to Los Angeles, we see that these are the most ready markets for a product like this. Definitely San Francisco as the hub for all the crazy people doing startups and nootropics, and pushing their limits. I guess Coffee Pixels can provide some value for them as well.
So yeah, definitely a year is a bit too small for the big goals like conquering the world and bringing out new products, like new flavors, new functionalities. All that is on our roadmap, it’s possible and it’s definitely going to happen, but a year, when we started Coffee Pixels, a year seemed a lot of time. But now after being in the venture for a year and a half, I have to say that a year runs very quickly.
I hope that all the things that I mentioned, we will be there and yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see, because this product is something that many people believe in. They say that this is something that you should find in the cash register zone, next to Orbit’s chewing gums and Snickers bars, so something of a household name, you know? But then again, that’s all retail and we still see that offline is going through a lot of changes. I really wouldn’t put my money on growing only offline. So definitely online side is … yeah, subscription definitely is going to be launched and active within a year. Yeah, plenty of things.
Felix: Oh man, definitely looking forward to Coffee Pixels coming over to the US so I can try some myself.
Thank you so much for your time, Raivis. So Coffee Pixels again, C-O-F-F-E-E-P-I-X-E-L-S.com is their website. Thank you so much again for your time.
Raivis: Not a problem at all. Hope you enjoyed our message, and I hope it inspires someone to start their own idea in the world.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peek for what’s in store the next Shopify Masters episode.
Speaker 3: We basically figured that we just spent too much and we’re just running out of customers or running out of people that we were going to appeal to.
Felix: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Shopify Masters, the e-commerce podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs, powered by Shopify. To get your exclusive 30-day extended trial, visit Shopify.com/Masters.
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About the author
Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. Got something to share with Shopify Masters listeners? You can submit your story for consideration.