Launching the Company on Kickstarter
The coffee company leveraged Kickstarter to start along with the founder’s money. In an interview with Startup Savant, Black Ink Coffee owner Parker Russell noted that “After you factor in Kickstarter's fee and the cost of goods sold for backers, we had $10,000 in profit from our Kickstarter and roughly $90,000 of my own money, Black Ink Coffee launched!”
The company raised $15,947 from two hundred and three backers on Kickstarter, exceeding the $10,000 goal the company set. Kickstarter rewards offered to backers included a coffee mug, bags of coffee, a premium shirt, and multi-month coffee subscriptions.
Kickstarter is a popular platform for coffee enthusiasts. In March 2021, there were more than two thousand coffee projects on Kickstarter. One of the most successful recent projects, The Twist Press Coffee Maker, has raised $84,000 (£61,732) from more than two thousand backers.
Search Engine Optimization Fuels Growth
Selling coffee online is a competitive business. There are more than two thousand coffee products available on Amazon alone as of March 2021. To stand out, Black Ink Coffee has focused on search engine optimization (SEO). The business has focused on achieving SEO rankings for coffee keywords like blonde roast or blonde roast coffee.
“We used Ahrefs to find keywords to focus on. We also use it to analyze competitor websites and to audit our site (broken pages, slow load times, etc.),” explained Russell in an interview with Startup Savant. Ahrefs is an SEO software company founded in 2010. The software tool is mainly well known for its database, which includes 5 billion webpages.
Ahrefs was only part of the SEO toolkit the company used to grow. “To take our SEO efforts a bit further, we then use a platform called SurferSEO to optimize our articles before posting. By using SurferSEO, we can get the average true keyword density and word count to use in our article and ultimately rank even higher on Google,” said Russell.
The Inspiration to Start the Business
Long before Black Ink Coffee was started, the company founder’s decision to launch the company happened in Africa.
“There was a singular moment on my deployment to Africa that shaped and inspired me to start the business. Seeing people living in poverty, yet happier than anyone I knew, made it clear to me that I needed to change my way of thinking,” said Russell. Before starting the company, Russell served in the US Air Force.
Selling More Than Coffee
The business offers more than traditional coffee for sale. For example, the business also sells merchandise (e.g., hats and shirts). Additionally, the coffee business sells high-end espresso makers such as White Eagle ($13,000) and Appia Life Volumetric (priced over $4000). Offering branded merchandise helps to set the company apart from its competitors.
About the Author
Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book, "Project Managers At Work," shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.