Panos Vrettos, Vasilis Apostolopoulos, and Konstantinos Sigalas, co-founders of BibeCoffee tell us about the coffee machine business.
First of all, how are you and your families doing in these COVID-19 times?
Panos Vrettos: We all experience an unprecedented reality. We are trying to maintain a balance between work and family, especially when we have to work from home. But the main thing is that we and our families are well and healthy.
Tell us about yourselves, your careers, and how you founded BibeCoffee.
Panos Vrettos: We have been working together in multinationals and have been friends dreaming of this idea since 2007. We have built a team of 15 colleagues working on a very aspirational plan, aiming to further develop BibeCoffee and get established worldwide. More specifically the team consists mainly of engineers with high technical expertise and industry knowledge. The main focus is given to product development with complex projects already delivered.
How does BibeCoffee innovate?
Vasilis Apostolopoulos: Our IoT real-time monitoring solution transforms every professional coffee machine into a smart connected terminal, minimizing Revenue Loss and safeguarding Brand Quality Image. With our BibeCoffee solution, we help our customers improve every aspect of their coffee operations by providing them real-time access to all of their coffee machines, at a glance, and collecting useful information and analytics. Our customers can monitor their coffee machines’ proper usage and operation so as to have full visibility in every coffee cup served, guaranteeing that quality coffee is always served without compromises. Our IoT analytics can significantly reduce maintenance costs by eliminating unnecessary technician visits by enabling them to remotely detect malfunctions. We offer a sea of analytics and all the required features and tools so as to help our customers to harness their power to streamline their operation by making the right decisions for their business.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Konstantinos Sigalas: The Coronavirus pandemic has profoundly affected our business since we target the HORECA which is one of the first industries that have experienced its destructive effect. A large number of businesses were forced to adjust their operations due to the restrictions imposed and the uncertainty of how long this situation will last. However, there are also customers that believe that the remote control of their coffee machines will be mandatory to keep track of their assets since onsite visits are not anymore so easy. Moreover, we are rolling out two major global customers that during this pandemic period have taken the opportunity to digitally transform all their business, by integrating our solution on all of their coffee machines’ fleet.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Konstantinos Sigalas: The Covid-19 pandemic spread impacted the everyday lives of all of us. Our personal life, our working environment, and the way we communicate with each other changed dramatically. We, as a company, had to take important decisions so as to protect our employees and our customers.
For the first time, we introduced the “working from home” plan for our personnel. Since we are a software company, the majority of our employees are developers. So we had to adjust quickly and provide them with all the necessary hardware and licenses as well as video conferencing programs in order to continue working as they were at the office and securely access the company’s information. Today, almost 1 year after the first lockdown, we can state that remote working had no impact on our business continuity and we managed to collaborate successfully and effectively.
What we realized is that when a team is connected and well organized, it doesn’t matter where they work from as long as they have a common vision and the same enthusiasm for the company’s success!
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Konstantinos Sigalas: All companies have changed the way they operate and do business due to the Covid-19 spread. As a B2B company, our clientele consists of businesses that were also forced to change their everyday business operation. Since we were unable to visit our customers, we used new effective alternatives to communicate with them safely from distance.
Our sales team had to adjust to this change and shift from the onsite sales meetings to online sales meetings. We introduced new digital tools such as video conferences, online meetings, and webinars. We used these tools to constantly connect with them and discuss the way our company could help them through this difficult time. Our customers are a top priority for us and through this digital communication, we wanted to show them that we support them and that we are into this together!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Vasilis Apostolopoulos: We applied to various government grants in UK and Greece and we have benefited in various ways such as tax reliefs, rent, and other liabilities alleviations, start-up recognition grants, etc. All the above helped our company to treat this difficult period and continue delivering high standard services to our customers.