Socially-conscious coffee company betting on PledgeMe to promote new home delivery service

Shaky Isles Coffee Company has just 14 days left to meet a $40,000 funding target that could see the company launch both a to-your-door coffee home-delivery service and supply free portable worm farms to New Zealand schools. And they’re using crowdfunding to make it happen.

The company has got big plans for what they want to achieve with the $40,000 they’re hoping to raise via the campaign.

Firstly, the company wants to launch a nation-wide coffee subscription service delivering freshly roasted and ground Shaky Isles coffee to their customers’ doorsteps, with patrons able to dictate their own delivery cycle set to any day and regularity.

Secondly, they’ve signed a deal with Hungry Bin to supply portable worm farms to schools, with the company donating 20 cents towards the project for every package of subscription coffee sold.

Finally, the café chain will commit to its own sustainability goals with a suite of Hungry Bins for composting café food waste, and the creation of a rooftop garden at its Kingsland location to grow vegetables and herbs for use in its dishes. 

Idealog decided to call Shaky Isles group owner Sam Ansley to find out just how he intends to make it all happen.

Idealog: Hi Sam. You’re in the process of launching a subscription service for home-delivered coffee. Why have you chosen the to-your-door model?

Sam Ansley: We were working on the launch of our 200gm coffee bags in-store, but we wanted a way to make it more relevant to the way people shop these days. Just look at Netflix or My Food Bag. That to-your-door model is attractive to consumers and attractive to us as a brand. These trends are emerging worldwide, especially with things like digital content, but coffee is an area that doesn’t seem to have been explored. And there’s nothing more habitual to people than coffee, so it's the perfect match. 

Also, we use organic eggs and free-range ingredients, organic coffee, we use recyclable and compostable cups, we sort through our waste and we have composting bins offsite, but we wanted to lock-in how we deal with our waste. We’ve played around with Hungry Bins before, but we want to put them into all our sites.

We figured we could do that and add value to consumers by putting 20 cents from every 200gm bag of coffee sold towards a Hungry Bin for a school. I suppose we’re looking for ways to make sustainability more real.

So you’ve chosen to pay for this with a crowdfunding campaign. Why crowdfunding?

I was an early adopter of Kickstarter, buying useless stuff, lots and lots of useless stuff, online. I’m off Kickstarter now, but I believe it provides a really great channel to market your product at the same time as you’re raising money.

I honestly don’t think its value as a marketing tool has been explored by a lot of marketers. When we thought about launching direct to the consumer, we looked for channels to market it, and this just seemed like a really interesting way to do it.

Crowdfunding often has an air of charity about, but all of the pledge amounts you're proposing come with pretty decent rewards.

Yeah, we’re offering a lot of value to our supporters. We’re not just asking for money. We’re giving great value, actually.

No one wants to be a charity and that model isn’t that persuasive anyway. So we’re being as transparent as possible about the model we’re proposing and what we’re trying to do. We didn’t want to do it and say ‘hey, can you please help us?’ We wanted to say be able to say ‘we’ve got real value here’.

Look at Otis and Sarah Frizzell. They did a great job and had great success with Lucky Taco’s crowdfunding campaign and we feel like we’re in a similar space and doing a similar thing.



It sounds like a solid plan, but the best crowdsourcing campaign will fail if no one knows about it. How are you promoting it?

Well, we’ve been a little slow on the marketing uptake to be fair. But I think this is the classic example of ‘build it and they will come’. But specifically, we’re putting the majority of our money into a targeted Facebook campaign. We’re using external consultants with some pretty clever targeting to make sure were not just speaking to our own network. 

And how is that actually working?

It’s easy to do a Facebook campaign, but unless you’re doing something interesting, it’s all by the by anyway. 

As far as actual click-throughs it’s a little hard to say – we’re already a pretty well-known brand. As much as we’re trying to drive people to the PledgeMe campaign, we’re also getting a lot of traffic to our website and Facebook page, and that’s worth something too. We want to engage our audience. So whether they’re clicking through [to the crowdfunding campaign] or not, that’s still to be fully realised, but from a marketing perspective, the whole exercise has been very useful for us.

So part of the exercise also involves your Hungry Bin/composting initiative in schools. How important is it to appear socially conscious when you’re marketing yourself through a channel like PledgeMe?

It’s been really important for us over the last few years to have something that’s more important than a cool piece of art on the wall; something really rooted in the New Zealand attitude. To us, that’s a kind of edginess, it’s something a little bit odd, and something we really recognise as Kiwis. It's sustainability.

So is it almost a case of giving the people what they want?

Absolutely. You’d be stupid not to take into account what people want. They want stuff ethically sourced, free-range and to know that you’re doing your bit. New Zealanders are ‘bit doers’, so were doing our bit too.

In what ways does that affect the bottom line?

Well, for example, we work a lot with our packaging partner. Are they more expensive than the others? Absolutely. But that’s what you get when you do it right.

That's why we are composting our by-products and looking to feed that back into the rooftop garden in Kingsland we want to build. Then we thought about how to feed that back into the community too and the bins in schools was the way to do that.

So how is the campaign actually going? Are you going to hit your target? [The campaign currently has $3,030 of a $40,000 target with 14 days to go].

I think it’s about 50/50 at the moment and we’re okay with that. It’s not the end of the world for us if we don’t make it.

We’ll still do the composting in schools program, and we’ll still contribute from those retail bags sold, so all the ideas we're putting in play with this, we’ll put in play no matter what happens.

No matter what happens, I see it as a win/win.