Before they founded Dripkit, Ilana Kruger and Kara Cohen freelanced in different offices throughout New York City. But a good cup of joe at work was always elusive.
“We were both really struggling to bring good coffee with us,” Cohen told PYMNTS in an interview. “We didn’t really have a way to fix that, so it seemed like there should be a better solution to making good coffee more portable.”
To find that solution, Cohen and Kruger started coming up with ideas. They wanted to create something consumers could easily throw in their backpacks or pockets. And, of course, whatever they came up with had to make a really good cup of coffee.
They ended up devising the Dripkit filter, which can fit on almost any mug and can make coffee almost anywhere. As a result, Dripkit consumers don’t need a coffee maker — only a vessel in which to pour the coffee.
Dripkit markets its filters in two different ways — as a subscription service or a one-off purchase. Cohen and Kruger offered the one-time purchase option to expand their market to those who don’t want to make the commitment. “We didn’t want to exclude people who didn’t want to subscribe,” Cohen said.
The idea, however, is that people will try the filter and want to subscribe. While Dripkit has only been live for a couple of weeks, the company has seen a “number” of customers convert over to subscribers.
But converting customers to subscribers can be a challenge for a subscription business. Unlike a regular retail purchase — which has little long-term risk to customers should they regret their purchases — buying a subscription-based product isn’t just about buying a good or a service; it’s about engaging in an ongoing relationship.
The reward is high: Subscription service customers tend to have a higher-than-average lifetime value, but the initial challenge going in the door is harder.
Dripkit is not the only company seeking to make coffee subscriptions. In 2015, Starbucks introduced a monthly and annual subscription option for customers desiring the West Coast experience without having to travel to its Seattle Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. Every month, subscribers can have access to what the company calls “small-lot coffees” that are exclusive to online customers and those visiting the roastery.
Orders are guaranteed to be delivered fresh to customers’ doors within three to five days of being roasted.
So far, Dripkit seems to be popular with people who work unconventional hours, such as a night shift nurse or those who work on morning television shows who have to be at work early — at 3:00 or 4:00 A.M. But Dripkit is also attracting interest from other companies.
“We definitely see offices buying it,” Cohen said, adding that while some people buy the filters and bring them to work, others will have the product delivered directly to their office. Beyond offices, the company plans to expand to hotels and other companies that serve consumers.
“I think any hospitality company that wants to offer a turn-key, high-end coffee solution [should consider Dripkit], because investing in the equipment that it takes to create good coffee and the training … is [a] pretty high barrier to entry,” Cohen said. “We’re trying to lower that barrier for everyone.”
While their aim is not to compete with the neighborhood coffee shop, the company does seek to emulate that experience when customers can’t visit one.
“We love coffee shops, but what we really want to do is bring the coffee shop experience to you when you don’t have access to a coffee shop,” Cohen said. “It’s very hard to replicate what you would get at a coffee shop when you are traveling or at work — or even at home.”
The New K-Cup
In the future, Dripkit wants to be as well-known as Keurig Green Mountain. The company also plans to introduce other coffee innovations down the road.
Additionally, Dripkit seeks to make its products more environmentally friendly. The company wants to make its product 100 percent biodegradable as soon as possible by hiring someone with a background in sustainable materials development.
Cohen said they wanted to do that right out of the gate, but it would have taken a significant amount of research and capital.
After all, “if it were easy, someone would have already done it,” Cohen said.