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Fundraising in a Mature Market: Alex French of Bizzy Coffee Joins Startup Savants

Cold-brew coffee is all the rage, and the market is growing rapidly. Still, raising funds and increasing sales is a challenge. Bizzy Coffee founder Alex French joins Startup Savants to discuss his company’s latest developments and lessons learned.

  • Startup Savants is a business podcast that tells the stories behind up-and-coming startups.
  • Alex French joins Startup Savants to discuss the latest developments with Bizzy Coffee and the lessons learned since its founding.
  • French talks about fundraising strategies, growing sales, and other topics of interest to entrepreneurs. 

Fundraising Challenges

During his interview with Startup Savants, Alex says he has learned several valuable lessons in the nine years since Bizzy was founded in 2013. One of them was how to raise money, which he aptly described as “tough and not for the faint of heart.”

One strategy is to time his fundraising efforts to coincide with the seasonal nature of the cold brew coffee business. “We sell more cold coffee in the summer. People typically drink cold in the summer and hot in the winter,” he said. “So I know that when you fundraise, you have to fundraise on momentum because an investor is always going to want to wait to get more information. They’ll want to see what happens next month and how your financials look next month so that they can mitigate their own risk. So you have to run a pretty tight process.”

Because people don’t generally drink cold brew in the winter, Alex said he has to finalize any fundraising deals for the year by Thanksgiving. “Once Thanksgiving hits … investors that don’t need to work. And so you can’t get anything done in that time period.”

The Chicken or the Egg?

Alex has also developed strategies for increasing market penetration and growing sales. This was difficult at Bizzy initially because potential vendors wanted proof of sales performance, which the company obviously didn’t have without anyone to sell its product.

“In the early days, it’s the chicken and the egg of like, ‘Okay, well, how do you show performance without being on the shelf?’ And that’s where it gets really tough,” he said. “And so the first several years are a real slog, especially in our category, because you don’t just present it to them and then they put it on the shelf a week later.”

Bizzy has gotten through its initial struggles, and now its cold brew is sold in more than 4,500 stores across the US. “So we started with one store, and then we got into a 10th store, and then we got into a 26th store, and then we got into the 80th store. And then all of a sudden those stores start to compete with the other stores that are in their region,” he said.

In addition to continued growth, Bizzy also wants to become more sustainable, including being carbon neutral by 2025. To help it get there, the company plans to introduce a 100-percent post-consumer-recycled plastic bottle. “We really want to drive some change and lead the charge in the beverage side of just being as sustainable as possible and really forcing our competitors to follow suit,” he said.

Startup Savants Podcast 

The Startup Savants podcast is a business podcast created by The Really Useful Information Company (TRUiC). Listeners can hear the stories behind startups, as told by their founders who are in the midst of growing their companies.

Ethan, an entrepreneur, and Annaka, a branding expert, host the Startup Savants podcast. They bring disparate skills and life experiences to their interviews, providing listeners with important business insights and a holistic perspective on the startup ecosystem. 

Hear from a variety of real startup founders from around the globe and with varying backgrounds, making their startup idea a reality. Learn from experts sharing their industry knowledge on venture capital, securing funding, and more on the Startup Savants podcast. 

Final Thoughts

In his interview on Startup Savants, Alex talks about his journey to founding and running Bizzy. Hear his tips for founders on raising funds, growing sales, becoming more sustainable, and other topics. 

You can find the Startup Savants podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.


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