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Voices: A Route Interview Series Feat. Or Reznichky
Or Reznichky Breaks Coffee Barriers in the US (while breaking into the gen z mindset)
When it comes to coffee, the majority of us get our daily fix by either trudging to the local chain or slogging over to the ubiquitous countertop drip machine. While that might scratch our caffeine itch, it seems like the typical American has set the bar super low for what qualifies as “good coffee.”
And with a few mega chains and household brands have a hold on the best part of wakin’ up, one guy sees an opportunity to break barriers. Or Reznichky is CEO of Dripdash, the first ready-to-drink Kyoto drip coffee that can be ordered right to your doorstep.
This craft coffee is perfected by way of a Japanese-style 16-hour slow drip process that not only highlights essence and flavor but also enhances cognition and memory. Reznichky also knows that the key to breaking into a crowd of newer coffee connoisseurs, like Gen Z, is about paying attention and providing a personal experience that’s almost as good as the coffee itself.
See what Or has to say about his ecommerce journey, how he adjusted for the pandemic, and more.
Q: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
A: This is my third business and first one I’ve worked on full-time. Something that I’ve learned along the way is there’s a lot of phenomenal knowledge out on the internet, but it’s really important to verify that the information is valid.
Mark Twain said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do, you’re misinformed.” Although entrepreneurship is not a newspaper, there are many different people to follow, whether it’s different gurus or business coaches, or just different sorts of information online. Make sure to verify that the place where you get information from is valid and that it matches up with the truth rather than just an opinion.
It’s also really important to put your blinders on. It’s easy to get distracted from your main goal, but finding routine has been a key to success. You have to constantly find out what works for you with your habits and see how your mind and body respond to it. There’s no one size fits all here. A lot of entrepreneurs talk about meditation, some talk about yoga, and others stroll around the neighborhood every two hours. It’s really important to constantly experiment with what leads to that metric that you’re resonating with.
You’re probably going to find out about who your true friends are. They’ll be a great sounding board when you need them and they’ll keep pushing you when you’re down on yourself. Aside from just friends, that also means your business partners. That’s a really important factor.
Whether that’s an investor or co-founders you go into bed with, it’s really important that you calibrate and understand. This could be a 5–10-year endeavor and you should have planned for being there at least that long when you go into it. Even if you are just bringing up an entrepreneurial idea with someone, make sure they are the type of people you want to surround yourself with for the next 5–10 years at minimum. You want it to be someone that you’ve done some type of project with, whether for school or work, so that you understand how they operate and how you work together.
Q: What does the future of ecommerce look like in your mind?
A: Ecommerce has become extremely saturated over the last 10 years. Different people found out that there’s a lot of money and returns that could be made online. It became very easy to just jump in with low acquisition costs online through Facebook and Google ads. When I try to think about the future of ecommerce, I try to think about the behavior of Gen Z because they’re the most influential people, and they’ll be making the financial decisions in the next 5 years for what’s cool and what isn’t.
One of the things we see from them: they really care about wholesome experiences. They care a little bit less about what the super trendy huge brands are and they care more about being involved in the community. Some great examples of what a community might be is like Nike or Lululemon. These are the pioneers of ecommerce. In some ways, they build their brand around a mission. For Nike, it’s “Just do it.” They’ve been able to almost create this way of pushing people to use their clothes and create a lifestyle around it, rather than just looking at the product alone.
You want to make a super personalized online experience for each consumer. Not only are you addressing them by name, which is some simple script to add to your email, but you’ll actually know their preferences. Plus, you can figure out how to scale it. At first, when you’re building this community, it’s really important that you’re doing things that don’t scale. You need to find out exactly the product and who the perfect end consumer is and make them have a most incredible experience with your brand.
Once that customer feels like they’re part of the community you’re creating, they’ll want to tell their friends. Eventually, you will have enough people to create thousands of true fans, which will pretty much be the early adopters who tell all their friends about you and that’s how you get your first community. These people will then perhaps even create their own fan pages on Facebook and they will share recipes and experiences.
The community stuff is really important. We’re starting to see instant response with faster shipping. People are going to want two-hour shipping for almost everything. There’s going to be a lot more fulfillment centers, logistics around getting the hard goods to you and last-mile delivery to make that ecommerce process almost eliminate physical retailers.
I think physical retailers of the future will be a little more experience-focused. For example, Bonobos or a Warby Parker store where you go to try on some of the custom things. You find out what works for you and you get it shipped out in the mail. From there on out, the experience has moved from the physical directly to the digital.
These businesses that will survive are the ones that are making something unique, not just manufactured overseas with a high margin but something that can be available to you wherever you’re shopping and something that is going to last longer. We also care about the environment and we don’t want to buy things that we’ll have to throw away very quickly.
Q: How have you pivoted strategy during the pandemic?
A: We were initially supposed to launch in Southern California and had a lot of great accounts waiting for us. Whether it’s the Equinox, gyms, the Soho’s or some very upscale types of markets and food service accounts, we had to pivot the business a lot. We were doing about 5% of the business online before and it shifted to about 30% today. Instead of focusing on distribution physically, we took a step back and said, “Why don’t we focus more on the super users and the customer and create a better customer journey?”
We decided to focus on email marketing, SMS marketing, and rebuilding and restructuring the community. We rebranded the entire company with that as well, and we’re able to focus on the online journey. We can have a nice type of Interaction with both the online and physical retail customer. That was the big pivot of the pandemic and it’s kept us running. There are definitely growing pains since we’re in startup mode, but the majority of it happened naturally and worked out so that now we have a lot more access to information about our consumers and still float.