How Coffee Subscription Service RISE Succeeded During the Pandemic

12th March 2021

For many budding entrepreneurs, the pandemic was a chance to realise ambitions that had always been dropped down a list of to-dos never to be checked. One such pairing was Ben and Alice who set up coffee subscription service RISE during the pandemic after going too long without a good cup of coffee at home.

We caught up with the pair to discuss the challenges they faced during the pandemic and how they sought out success during unprecedented times.

Did you have concerns about the success of your business due to the current climate?

We launched via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, raising 132% of our target. This gave us confidence in our idea at the start of lockdown and we have grown month on month since. We have had many challenges, including sourcing our packaging, building our website, planning our partners - a lot of hard work was required to get the business off the ground quickly. We networked (virtually!) and built connections in the industry, which have been invaluable.

How have you had to adapt your products or services to maintain business continuity?

We founded RISE during lockdown after seeing a gap for a new and exciting coffee subscription showcasing the best British coffee roasters. We decided to showcase two new roasters each month, as well as an exciting tasty treat, recipe cards, tasting notes and information about the roasters. 

Over the last year, we have adapted and introduced new products and gifts to help expand our range and offering. The gift market was key for us, and this was not something we had anticipated. We experienced increased demand over holiday periods and had to move quickly to capitalise on this and ensure we had the stock.

Are there any measures that you will keep if we ever return to ‘normal’? 

Since launch, we have worked from home, and will continue to do so. However, we do believe in face-to-face collaboration and would soon like a RISE HQ where people can pop in and visit us and talk about all things food and drink - in particular, coffee and wine! 

We have recently introduced a monthly virtual 'Meet the Roaster' where our subscribers get to meet the coffee roasters and hear their stories. We will keep this virtual post-lockdown as this allows everyone from around the UK to join in.

In your opinion, what is it that has made your products/services so successful during the pandemic?

During the pandemic, subscription models have flourished with the demand for deliveries skyrocketing. We have also seen an increase in support for British-based products and stories with people enjoying shopping local and supporting small businesses. 

What do you think the future of your company might look like in a post-covid world?

We are looking to expand into new products, such as RISE wine boxes, which are coming soon. We obviously have concerns that the subscription model may slow down once lockdown ends; however, we believe it will remain strong. 

Our customers love receiving the treats each month, and discovering new coffee they may not have otherwise come across themselves. We showcase small businesses from the UK and subscribers enjoy supporting these guys (as do we!). People have got used to enjoying these small luxuries and we think this will continue. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the coronavirus pandemic?

We have learnt that you have to be nimble and agile to adapt to every situation that comes your way. It can often be difficult but it can also create new opportunities! 

What advice would you give someone that is perhaps struggling with their business now?

If you believe in your business, you just have to keep working hard at it and explore every avenue until you find what works for you. We have played with designs, products, marketing channels, etc. and still try to optimise all the time. Hang in there, it's tough times for everyone at the moment, keep adapting! 

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A coffee subscription service.