How does Waka Coffee innovate?
David Kovalevski: Our goal is to make the coffee experience easier by providing a delicious and easy to use coffee solution. We are on a mission to reinvent the instant coffee category with a high-quality product, superior brand ethics, and customer support. Our innovation is through our products, direct and prompt communications with our customers, and our sales channels.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
David Kovalevski: Waka Coffee is selling instant coffee, which is a common pantry item. Getting into this crisis, we knew many people already kept instant coffee in their emergency stock, but couldn’t predict the volume we have seen starting the beginning of March. Being mainly a direct to consumer startup means we had to rely on lean inventories, so, unfortunately, we couldn’t satisfy all demand. At this point, we have revamped all of our supply chains and are fully in stock.
Our main strategy right now is to help our customers get the products they need as fast as possible. We are working with our suppliers to have more products on hand and expedite online shipments, with most products shipped the same day. We are also utilizing Amazon’s and Walmart’s robust delivery networks. We are sending more inventory to their facilities and discounting our products on their platform as much as we can.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
David Kovalevski: Starting April 2020, due to COVID-19, we ran into supply chain problems with our packaging vendors and had to package some of our products in blank packets to meet the sharp demand increase we have experienced (versus our printed packets). Of course, the coffee is the same as we have been selling before, but some of the packets temporarily did not have the colored stamp on them.
We are in the process of improving our packets, including the type of coffee, instructions, and the colored stamp on future packets. We believe that the new packets will get into distribution in the next few months.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t an easy choice to make. Still, looking through the alternatives, we have decided it’s better to get products in our customers’ hands at the expense of some packaging components.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Waka Coffee in the future?
David Kovalevski: I am trying to meditate as much as I can and understand time is limited, and I can’t achieve everything. Reminding myself to tackle only a few tasks at a time, managing my own expectations, and taking a few breaths in between helps me overcome stressful times.
We were very fortunate to grow Waka Coffee thus far and become one of the leading instant coffee newcomers. We have high goals for the brand in the future and working super hard to execute them.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
David Kovalevski: Our competitors are the traditional instant coffee brands, other newer brands, and related coffee solutions that can be used as an alternative. While we follow our competitor’s landscape and industry, our main focus is on ourselves and how we can become a better brand each day.
Your final thoughts?
David Kovalevski: Waka Coffee has been a pure bootstrapping startup. Founded with no outside investments and relying on our customers to grow the business. If we could do it, so do you. Don’t overcomplicate your business model, don’t think something is impossible but simply give it a try and surprise yourself.
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