This Virtual Coffee Tour Will Have You Saying Aloohaa
Sometimes it takes a quiet sit and think, with a fresh cup of Joe in hand to realize a good idea. That, followed by the confidence that sets in with the caffeine to make you feel like you can make the idea a reality. I just love coffee and for some reason, I love visiting coffee farms. I want to visit them whenever I can. Subscription boxes are popular and many coffee brands offer their own coffee club subscription, but to my demise, I couldn't find one that offered the ability to try different coffee from across the state each month. After finally finishing my business degree from Hawaii Pacific University in October, my time was freed up enough to get started. With the tremendously powerful help of CrateJoy, I aim to launch www.HawaiiCoffeeBox.com in January of 2017.
The biggest goal during pre-launch is to make sure that there is a market for my coffee club. Ok business student, what does that mean? It means I can't be the only who thinks this is a good idea. Will others want to try coffee and goodies from a different Hawaiian coffee farm each month? Allowing customers to only purchase one box without subscribing, and making it easy to manage their subscription, I figure it would at least make an amazing gift! But sometimes we need to remember to gift ourselves, too.
It's been 14 years since I was Miss Kona Coffee participating in the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and promoting the coffee industry in Japan with Ueshima Coffee Company. Now that I live on Oahu, I visit the Big Island often with my daughter to visit family, and coffee farms, and Lava Java, and Daylight Minds... to name a few favorites!
Follow Hawaii Coffee Box on Instagram (@hawaiicoffeebox) for more up-to-the-day updates about this virtual coffee tour of Hawaii. I say virtual because I will be blogging all about the farm/brand that is highlighted in the box each month! So much fun!!!
Ath, short for athlete, is a new nutrition supplement company headquartered right here in Oahu. Founder Stuart Kam says his vision for Ath Organics is to create a worldwide brand that is synonymous with natural athletes and represents the highest quality natural sports nutrition. “I envision the brand promoting sports & activities that we are passionate about while providing valuable careers to the local communities we are a part of”, says Stuart. The sports and activities that he is most passionate about are Jiu Jitsu and surfing, both of which he spends time doing whenever he can. When visiting the company’s website it is clear to see that his branding is geared towards these two sports first and foremost.
The website also boasts it’s mission statement which is, “to provide you with the best all natural sport supplements in the world to help you train harder, recover faster, and live a healthy lifestyle”. Stuart’s current goals and objectives for his company are to secure national distribution to help them scale. Being a smaller manufacturer, in order to scale up and take it to the next level, the company needs regional & national distribution. They are actively negotiating with a few national brands to make this happen. Stuart is currently talking with a few different national specialty retailers with a strategy to target buyers of retailers that align with his vision. “I'm a firm believer of knowing which retailers you'd like to represent your brand and targeting those specific retailers”, he said.
Stuart didn’t talk about his ingredients, but I can see that this is also a huge part of his strategy. His unique proprietary blends of organic ingredients including hemp protein, plant-based alkaline electrolytes, and turmeric help support a strategy of differentiation.
My SWOT analysis from an outside perspective is a little different than his own. I asked Stuart what he would say his strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are. He said Ath’s strengths are the strong social media presence from an authentic and loyal customer base. I would say that the other strengths include the unique spin on healthy ingredients, the fact that Ath is one of the only protein shakes and energy bars founded in Hawaii, and maybe the only of it’s kind specifically targeting surfers (which is strong locally) and martial artists (which is a strong niche nationally and even internationally).
While Stuart thinks Ath’s weakness is it’s limited distribution and retail footprint, those things can be fixed, and are natural challenges of a startup product business. The real root of this being a challenge in the first place is that the sports nutrition supplement market is extremely saturated. Ath’s weakness is that it is a new venture, up against much competition. Luckily, Ath Organics has it’s strengths in social media and is making sales online through it’s own website.
I agree with Stuart that Ath can benefit from opportunities to scale up with national distribution and a proven model that he is following to make it happen. So far, the only stores that Ath has a retail presence in are in Hawaii. While 20 retail stores in Hawaii have welcomed this local company onto their shelves, Ath has yet to make it’s debut in other states. The opportunity for growth through more wholesale business-to-business sales is there.
There is an extremely competitive landscape in the specialty foods and sports nutrition category. Stuart is correct to list this as a threat and elaborated by saying, “Changes happen fast in this category, for example expiration dates. There’s also a high turn over rate in the industry as profit margins are lower than other categories”.
Something Ath Organics brags about on their website is the fact that the ingredients are organic, and products are made in small batches to keep freshness. I’m sure this helps prevent having to toss expired product. How nice it would be to need to make bigger batches to fill wholesale orders. I would love to see Ath Organics in Whole Foods Hawaii. Whole Foods tends to carry different products at different locations to cater to the local market. I would imagine that this would be a great opportunity for Ath because if the products sold well here, Whole Foods might consider carrying Ath products at other locations in the country.
Stuart Kam is a great example of a natural entrepreneur. Check out his company website with this link for $15 off of a purchase of $75 or more at www.athorganics.com