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How a coffee delivery startup got 160 customers one day after launch

Meet Alex Santiago from St. Petersburg, Florida.

Alex has launched several startups and eventually became a CEO of a development agency. He loves to travel around the world, hike in the mountains, and to test his entrepreneurial limits with new product launches.

One of the products was a coffee delivery startup called Baristika.

Alex Santiago

The story told by Alex

Don’t think that this story is about mindblowing success—my coffee delivery startup Baristika was a crazy experiment that cost me $300K. But it also gave me first-hand insight that I later monetized into something greater. Here’s how this roller coaster went.

Baristika screenshot

In 2018, I decided to launch Baristika to deliver coffee to office desks

I built an order-taking platform and partnered with a coffee shop to deliver their coffee to office employees. But it didn’t work out: coffee arrived 30 minutes after ordering, soggy and not energizing at all. I learned my mistakes and defined the key features of a successful coffee delivery:

  • Max 12-minute wait time

  • Keeping the coffee hot is a must

  • In-app ordering for user convenience

In 3 months, we created thermal bags for delivery, opened a ghost kitchen, and built management software.

The software included customer app and website, barista and courier apps, and an admin panel. Customers made orders in the app, the barista saw it in their app, the admin panel called the courier and they were ready to pick up the drink in 4 minutes. 5 minutes after that, the drink was at the customer’s desk.

On paper, everything looked great.

The three Baristika apps

How it worked

  1. The customer makes an order and pays for it through the website or the mobile app

  2. The ghost kitchen located in the same business center receives the order

  3. The order is ready in 4 minutes

  4. The courier delivers the order around the business center within 5-8 minutes

  5. The client receives the freshly brewed coffee to their office desk

Free drinks

We decided to hand out coupons for a free drink to get the first customers.

This marketing strategy took off and we had 160 customers on day 2. The management platform worked like a dream: it ensured a smooth 12-minute workflow and high customer satisfaction. After 2 months, we had 120-160 orders per day and 350 regular customers.

Despite all that, we still weren’t profiting 😕 

Our average order value was low, with customers mainly ordering single drinks. The main struggle was morning peaks and afternoon slowdowns: 60% of the orders were between 9:00 and 11:30 am and about 30% between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. Upselling snacks and running special promotions didn’t help.

After some time of testing hypotheses, we admitted that our business model was flawed.

So, what could I do to fix it?

  1. Test my product hypotheses better instead of doing a blind launch.

  2. Partner with cafes and canteens that run business lunches to get orders during the afternoon slowdowns.

  3. Leverage one thing that worked—the kitchen management software.

I couldn’t realize options #1 and #2, so I went with the last one. And looks like it worked out. We're currently implementing our software in a new e-commerce project, and hoping that it realizes its full potential there.

That is all for now. Any questions, feedback, or advice for Alex? You can find him here:

Or learn more about his coffee journey here