Exclusive Interview: CEO of Wandering Bear Coffee Company

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Are you an iced coffee person by default, even during the cold winter months? Good news!  http://mattscherer.org/page/7/ Wandering Bear Coffee Company is for you.

Founded in 2014, co-founders Matt Bachmann and Ben Gordon started the business with the goal of providing you excellent iced coffee that you can make yourself, at home or in the office.

We sat down with Matt and Ben to learn more about their company and mission, and to see what’s “brewing” for the future.

VM101: How did you come up with the idea for your company?

Wandering Bear Coffee Company: We love great iced coffee. But great iced coffee options for the home and office didn’t exist, so we started making our own. This is how we met, actually. As students at buy gabapentin online us Columbia Business School, we showed up to class one day, each with a mason jar of homemade cold brew. Starting a coffee company together soon became all we could talk about. We started testing recipes and to our (pleasant) surprise, people loved our coffee. It was exceptionally bold (and very caffeinated), but smooth enough to drink straight. We were having so much fun, we decided to start building a company. We haven’t looked back since.

VM101: Describe your business. 

WBC: Wandering Bear Coffee Co. is bringing coffee drinkers a better iced coffee option: a bold, but never bitter, ready-to-drink cold brew that makes cafe-quality iced coffee easy to enjoy in the home and office. Unlike the other brews on the market, our always-fresh, locally-made coffee comes in an eco-friendly box, putting cold brew coffee on tap in any refrigerator. We are a NYC-based beverage startup that launched in mid-2014 with our first cold brewed coffee product, quickly attracting partners such as FreshDirect, Murray’s Cheese Shop and Barry’s Bootcamp to our mission.

VM101: What are 3 things that you think have made you successful?

WBC: We have a long way to go… but any success we’ve enjoyed to-date can be attributed to our openness to ideas/feedback from others, support from customers and commitment to having fun while working (very) hard.

VM101: What are three challenges you have overcome while developing your business?

WBC: We only get three? Off the top of our heads, that time on day 1 of production where we learned we did not know how to brew coffee at scale, that time on day 2 of production where we learned we did not know how to brew coffee at scale, and poured a couple hundred gallons of coffee down the drain on account of the first two days of production, less than 24 hours before our launch event. Fake it ’til you make it, right?

VM101: What do you see for the future of your company?

WBC: We are out to build a national coffee brand that will serve consumers at all points of consumption. Right now, our box is designed for delivery (via partners like FreshDirect) and is perfect for the home and/or office refrigerator. But, additional products are already in development. Whether at home, in the office or on the go, we want to be there with all natural, high-quality, convenient and eco-friendly drinks to fuel the daily journeys of our customers.

VM101: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started out?

WBC: Manufacturing is hard. When we started, I don’t think we fully comprehended what we were getting ourselves into. We are lucky to have been able to recruit a team of experienced folks to work with us. But, even with a small team, it’s still us in the kitchen brewing the coffee each week. It’s hard work, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

VM101: What business(es) do you look up to for inspiration for your own?

WBC: Honest Tea is our beverage industry idol. We often have a copy of their book, Mission in a Bottle, nearby and refer to it regularly. Beyond our own industry, there are a number of entrepreneurial lifestyle brands out there that are really tuned into their customers –Chubbies Shorts, GoPro and Skullcandy come to mind. We love their voice and the way they engage their fan base.

VM101: What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to start a business?

WBC: Let your customers be your guide. We have learned an incredible amount about our business through the eyes of our customers. Everything from the look of our packaging and the voice of our brand to the taste of our coffee has been influenced by their feedback. So, when getting started, stop second-guessing yourself and just get something out there. Something people (ideally potential customers) can react to.

VM101: Share some fun facts about your business that the general public might not know.

WBC: Fun Fact #1: The phrase “wandering bear” existed long before our coffee company did. For over a decade, the wandering bear has been Ben’s self-appointed spirit animal (his animal alter-ego). Back when Ben was working in film, he thought he’d start a company called Wandering Bear Productions. We have yet to make any movies… but we do make a fine cold brew.

Fun Fact #2: We recently launched the Wandering Bear Health Plan whereby all full-time Wandering Bear Coffee employees get a ClassPass membership (#startups helping #startups). An afternoon at Barry’s really helps take the edge off that fifth cup of cold brew.

Ben Kaufman is a Content & Community Associate at [L]earned Media.

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