Copper Cow Coffee CEO Reverse-Pivoted Her Way to Revenue – nitronet


Many brands responded to the pandemic by expanding their services into new sectors, such as Bacardi shifting to hand sanitizer production or Uber launching on-demand retail delivery.

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Instead of pivoting her business, however, Debbie Wei Mullin, CEO of coffee brand Copper Cow Coffee, zeroed in on its most effective elements, which led to the company’s most profitable quarter yet and an improved overall business model that will last post-pandemic.

Copper Cow Coffee is a Vietnamese coffee startup that launched in 2016. Previously, its products were sold in six sectors, including hospitality, office and wholesale. But when Covid-19 hit and Mullin recognized that sales would fall across half of her normal channels, she realized the only way to succeed would be to exclusively pursue the areas that still held potential for success.

“I had to focus on the fact that I was lucky to have channels that were still working and make the company the best it could be for my investors and employees,” Mullin said.

Now, Copper Cow Coffee is selling primarily in ecommerce and grocery, and it’s reporting higher revenue than ever before. Ecommerce revenue tripled, grocery doubled, and the company expects to quadruple its 2019 revenue this year.

Instead of going to Starbucks or their local coffeeshop, consumers working from home are ordering coffee online or buying it at grocery stores—java purchases are up 10% at Amazon and 20% at Walmart since February. Mullin believes this won’t drop off significantly after states reopen, especially if there is a shift to more people working remotely.

These past few months have forced the founder to focus on the most effective areas of her business model. While most brands spread into new sectors in an attempt to find new audiences and remain profitable, Copper Cow Coffee zeroed in on the two channels it knew could work during the pandemic—ecommerce and grocery—and saw a boost in both. Instead of spreading itself too thin across distribution channels, Mullin has found that placing all of the company’s energy into these two areas has garnered much better results.

She had almost the ‘reverse-pivot,’ in that she had one part of her business that was valid once Covid-19 hit,” said Josh Muccio, host of The Pitch Podcast, which features entrepreneurs making their case for funding to investors. “Previously, she had many different directions that she was very intent on pursuing, and she realized quickly that none of those would be valid in the new economy we were moving into.”

Mullin is now focused on improving communication within her company and having clear goals for each area of her business strategy. As the company grows thanks to its recent success, Mullin hopes a more open and transparent management approach focused on ecommerce and grocery will aid in rolling out new products.

“For the next 12 months, we’re really going to lean into those channels and showcase the depth of Vietnamese coffee products,” she said.

Copper Cow Coffee’s success exists in significant contrast to coffee chains that rely on retail stores for sales. Starbucks saw a $3.2 billion loss last quarter, while Dunkin Brands’ stock fell 21.7%. While sales for both coffee chains are recovering as stores reopen, more time will be needed to see whether consumers will shift away from brewing their own coffee at home.

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