STORY / BAYANIHAN
This COVID-19 crisis destroyed the dreams and ambitious plans of many of entrepreneurs in the country, some even before they were able to launch their products. Entrepreneurs such as Miko Lapira of Coffee Crafters CoC were not spared. But with resilience, practicality and the will to succeed, he worked hard to make his situation better – not just for the money, but also to help others struggling during times hard to deal with.
Bounce Back asked Mr. Lapira on how he turned around Coffee Crafters during at time of crisis.
What is Coffee Crafters COC and what do you offer?
We provide Hot brew and Cold brew coffee solutions along with opportunities for a sustainable livelihood in the e-commerce space. With a mantra of “Hustle without the Hassle for our Castle”, our brand aims to help our Countrymen in the Hustle to further reach their dreams, Hassle-Free. It’s a distribution model in the market that provides livelihood for a lot of Filipinos in this COVID crisis. The product that we champion as of the moment is Coffee in tea bags. No need for equipment, no need for a hassle. It empowers the individual to first, make hot brew–like tea bags, but it’s coffee! One just adds a Coffee bag to hot water (300ml) immerse for 2-4 mins and you’re done. Add sweeteners and milk to taste and you can even leave the coffee bag as is to strengthen the taste with time. A benefit that drip bags and coffee equipment cannot do. Secondly, in making cold brew coffee, the process of straining it is eliminated. Just immerse the coffee bags using our recommended ratios. For example add 4 coffee bags in a Mason jar filled with 300ml of water and you get a nice 1:9 ratio. Then immerse with either room temperature or cold water for 12-24 hours (we recommend 16) and simply remove the bags then after which, continue to refrigerate. No more messy straining! No more equipment needed and it can last for 2 weeks. With these two methods, one can have flexibility in crafting his/her own Brewed coffee, anytime and anywhere! That’s why with Coffee Bags from Coffee Crafters–it’s your Craft and Your Choice!
What opportunities did you lose when the lockdown was implemented?
We lost potential clients and partners as we we were aiming towards Brick and Mortar channels. We also lost opportunities for production as our team can’t convene to craft the products, this limited us to produce stocks undermanned and with severe repurcussions. On the flip side, when we lost the opportunities, new doors opened in turn especially with the rise of e-commerce during the lockdown period. Opportunities kept on coming day after day.
How did Coffee Crafter’s Coc do during the lockdown period?
It was an amazing turn around for dwindling sales. Prior to the lockdown, not so many people bothered to buy their coffee online. 2nd and 3rd generation Coffee shops provide people on the hustle their to-go coffee. But with the lockdown being implemented, people lost their jobs, cashflow stopped, businesses closed and people practiced ‘diskarte’. This made most people go online to make ends meet. It was a situation where people couldn’t get their coffee from their favorite shops and some could no longer afford them. This gave Coffee Crafter’s COC an opportunity to make our message be heard louder in the community. People were now going online not just to buy and sell, but in general–make a living. We focused on strengthening Distributors, Wholesalers and Resellers and we immediately scaled nationwide.
With the prospect of sharing lessened may it be a amenities or just Coffee Machines in the workspace, brewing your own coffee is now becoming a norm. That’s according to https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexandrasternlicht/2020/05/20/food-samples-office-coffee-and-other-parts-of-everyday-life-that-will-not-return-with-reopening/ . And Coffee bags for Brewed Coffee is now a more relevant solution for people in the office. Asides this, there’s alot of changes and problems that arise that our Coffee Bags can provide solutions to. But in building the brand, we could have not done it without the support of the Father up in heaven, and the things He instrumentalized to make it happen for us. The most important platform that was a springboard for us is the Bounceback Community. As an SME community with a spirit of Collaboration, many were interested to partner with us and eventually beared fruit. We made thrice the sales during the lockdown compared to pre-lockdown. Thank you Bounceback for the opportunity!
How did you innovate the way you sold your products to bounce back from the crisis?
We focused on our competence as a brand which is Distributorship, Trainings and Building of Relationships. For the Distributorship, we made our message simple– buy wholesale and sell retail, with a markup. Provide livelihood in the process. This distinguished our brand from other competitors only in it for the sales, and they comprise most of the coffee market. Also simplifying our packages and offers from 7 packages into only 2 packages made a Huge difference. In a digital market where there’s a lot of noise, being simple and clear with your message coupled with your offered opportunity can make decision-making easier. Now for the trainings, we continue to cultivate a Collaborative community instead of Competition between our Distributors and Resellers. We hold sharing of Best practices, give attractive incentives, sustain their motivations with Initiatives. We implement these via our posts, Communication network and of course a positive customer service.
Last but not the least, we believe in Building relationships over gaining a peso more in our pockets. There are times where we prioritize the Distributor, Reseller or Consumers’ needs over profit. As the founder of
Bounceback Sir Jason Dela Rosa always says, “Collaboration is the way.. in this time of crisis, people really need help, and you just have to avail their products and services even if you don’t need them. We really need to help each other, Bounceback.” In turn, the built relationship not only became solid engagement for our social media pages but also a bridge towards repeat orders on all channels. In essence the lockdown became a blessing in disguise, for the lost opportunities paved way for us to do what’s more effective, cost-efficient and innovative. We have now fully embraced an e-commerce-distributorship strategy.
What is your advice to the Bounce Back community?
Let me share a quote from the book ‘The Practical Entrepeneur‘, the author says there that “We are all dreamers, but let’s all be dreamers with our two feet in the ground”. Let’s not think so much about increasing our own Let me share a quote from the book ‘The Practical Entrepeneur’, the author says there that “We are all dreamers, but let’s all be dreamers with our two feet in the ground”. Let’s not think so much about increasing our own margins but rather the margins of the people whom help us. In a sense they are the Frontliners in our own communities. They are the ones who mostly do the moving of products, therefore the ones at most risk with the ongoing crisis with the virus. Help them build their teams, now more than ever. Incentivize them with their good work. Give promos. Help guide them in this digital space. Because most of the people are new to this platform and are just making ends meet. Employees, now unemployed, these people we need to help them. And in turn, they will help the brand scale as well. Don’t be too stingy with the margins and shoulder some of their shipping requirements. 40 pesos can go a long way and is a vian (ulam na yoon) for less fortunate families. A little difference in how we see things can go a long way as a big difference in how things are percieved. As business people we provide people with a means to put food (and coffee!) on their tables.Yes, we may have BIG dreams in building our businesses, but it’s better to enjoy it from the ground along with the down to earth partners we’ve helped out in this crisis.
You can check out Coffee Crafters at http://facebook.com/coffeecraftersph