1001 Hours: URBAN COFFEE CLUB
In 1001 hours -- that's nearly 6 weeks. What could only have started as presumably a weird fever-dream rapidly snowballed into the single-most important project we've undertaken in a long time. It was one of the most fast-paced and ambitious development projects known to mankind. That's right! Urban Coffee Club (what'd you think it was?)
What is UCC?
Visit the site here:
In a nutshell, UCC is an app-based service and membership allowing access to a city-wide network of unique locations called Coffee Corners — places like cafes, restaurants, boutiques, even yoga studios, music venues or art galleries. If you can imagine it, and if it's cool -- then it's the kind of place we want as part of a network!
Throughout the network, members experience the city of Berlin via unlimited freshly brewed speciality coffee. One tap in our app, and one flat-rate weekly fee. Anytime. And as we rapidly expand, anywhere too in this glorious city.
The coffee available at the Corners comes from a collaboration with a different world-class speciality coffee roastery. Every week we cycle through to a new one: to date, we've had Bonanza, Kaffee Kirsche, 19grams/Tres Cabeza, Röststätte, and our own BV Roast (roasted by ERNST Kafeerösterei). And this coffee is supplied fresh throughout this independent network within Berlin.
In the space of these few weeks, Bonaverde ideated, project planned, jury-rigged a brand, built an entire app, pitched a concept to a network of 100 partnering 'outlets', came up with a creative marketing campaign, filmed, photographed, interviewed, set up digital ads, and logistically set up an entirely futuristic dropship-inspired distribution network. And that's just a sparkling 'executive summary'. The reality was countless sleepless nights of hard work, but all working towards one goal. And we've made it! We successfully launched the project to the Berlin public amid throngs of excitedly screaming fans.
Having just had a last-minute App Store approval for our app the morning of launch, things were looking tight. We literally used our launch as our Beta test at Berlin's annual Tech Open Air (TOA) at Funkhaus. We had the time of our life egging-on our dream target audience (the tech industry is filled with digiphiles and coffee addicts after-all) to 'enjoy' the challenge of the MVP opt-in journey. The event attendees, moreso than likely anyone else in the world, are all utterly familiar with the hilarity of launch days. But when we told them what we'd achieved within the last 6 weeks though, they graciously became our guinea pigs. And once they were in though, they thoroughly enjoyed having that unlimited coffee and skipping event queues in a cashless system.
In parallel to TOA, the remaining members of the team ran to the streets to promote UCC at nearby train stations. In offering out free reusable Urban Coffee Club keep-cups, and a free weeks trial, by the end of the day we had over 200 paying members signed up.
The experience has given us fantastic insight into UX, and a clear direction on development, and what we are to potential users, and we're excited to see where our digital ads can go where we just don't have the resource to go otherwise!
Merging coffee consumption (the Marketplace), hardware (the Berlin coffee roaster) and software (myBonaverde app) can prove challenging to form into a cohesive ecosystem at the best of times. It's something we've always worked on to refine. Despite this, this has worked well in our favour by developing a strength in digital technology.
It's worth taking a moment to recognise the importance of speciality coffee roasteries in the world of coffee right now too.
They produce amazing coffee, and they do inspiring work towards a creating transparent supply-chain (quite often Direct Trade). On the other hand, we at Bonaverde also know the struggle in communicating and broadcasting both the value of the green coffee, its producers, and the added-value of what roasteries do to a broader market of people. In terms of core competencies, they're a coffee company -- not a marketing agency, nor a tech company -- and so the industry-wide change for the better, though it is growing, isn't happening as fast as it can (and should).
We frequently hear the frustration voiced by roasteries: the information they want to include on their coffee packaging (things like origin, region, cultivar/variety, altitude, processing method etc), and how it's still not enough apparently to communicate value to consumers; they have limited other mediums to speak of such value, and yet critically these same consumers are rarely even engaged enough to want to read the pack. It's an endless struggle.
The time has come to create synergy!
The 'Aha!' Moment
Over the years, we at Bonaverde have formed relationships throughout the coffee supply chain -- suppliers and consumers, and various points in-between. Through developing our app and our backend system, we're becoming flush with data.
Having built these supply channels now with speciality coffee roasteries in Berlin we realise that one of our core strengths lies both in a networks, and in a unique position of being able to communicate value in a never-before-seen manner in the coffee industry: via a digital Club community, and through the medium of an App.
Our vision is to change the way coffee is perceived, consumed and traded. So Urban Coffee Club is perhaps a completion of this vision. Where roasteries excel at top-end supply, and are compatible with our corporate value-set in achieving sustainable trade and supply relationships, combining forces with Bonaverde's forte in network logistics and app is proving synergistic.
The Club provides an unrivalled route to consumers; broadening that coffee's availability, and the app serves to communicating that (and everyone throughout the supply's) story, brand, value, and information. It's an open pasture just waiting to be explored further.
We realise more than ever now, that Bonaverde is as much a digital company as it is a coffee company. And now it's a Club. A network which facilitates the supply of coffee from those who perhaps do it best, to a new untapped market for those who consume not just coffee, but information in a modern and innovative setting. Merging digital, with physical consumption.
The benefit to Coffee Corners is that they are enjoying an increased visibility through a new and exclusive platform, and more foot-fall traffic too. On the other end, Club members enjoy the availability, and variety of coffee, information, stories and experiences the network provides.
On the subject of Coffee Corners
Well we call them "Coffee Corners" -- but they're not a franchise, and we certainly don't want them to be (although if it were, maybe we'd have more outlets than Starbucks in Berlin)! They're all proudly independent and standalone small businesses who do their own thing; they're created, owned and run by a myriad of incredibly interesting and varied humans.
As said before, these places could be anything from a boutique, restaurant, cafe, cinema, gallery, bookstore, yoga studio... you name it, we're pretty quickly getting a versatile spread of them all!
Many fledgling corners are eager to join up, because the Urban Coffee Club allows them to a) Have access to such a high-caliber of coffee they normally would not be able to afford it; b) The app gives Corners much higher visibility to a dream-group of conscientious consumers who love to get out-and-about and experience the Berlin lifestyle and food scene; c) Corners as such are enjoying much higher potential footfall traffic than they would otherwise.
They're all beautiful unique places, and we've worked very hard to reach 100+ of them all through Mitte (and increasingly in Kreuzberg/Friedrichshain/Neukölln) in the space of only a few weeks! The goal is of course soon to have thousands of high quality locations throughout the city, to test, and then to scale out to other cities throughout Europe and abroad. But we're starting small, and making sure the quality is good, that everyone's happy, and logistics are all working well before rapid expansion.
We've simplified it for users. To join, download the Urban Coffee Club App, and then:
And we hope you will too! Want to learn more? Find out here:
It's become abundantly clear now (although we knew it even before we launched) that our user experience is going to be our top priority for the coming weeks. Similarly, we now need to rush out and get even more Coffee Corners in new districts to grow the network. Considering what we achieved with *nothing* in a few weeks, at least this prospect, with some data and some new members, shouldn't be quite as overwhelming this time round!
Similarly, it has become apparent that there are perhaps too many conflicting brands and products within the Bonaverde ecosystem, and UCC is yet another. Is it time for UCC to become its own ship to set sail by itself? Time will tell, so watch this spot closely for more updates.