Mike Brown’s Round Lake, NY, coffee roasting business hit the jackpot last year when it won the Intuit Quickbooks Small Business Big Game contest. The prize: free advertising during the 2016 Super Bowl. We reported back then on the astounding response Death Wish Coffee got to its ad – including 40,000 mailing list subscribers overnight and millions of YouTube views.
Now, six months later, Brown reports that “things are still rolling pretty well.”
Since this time last year, his staff has doubled, revenues are up 500 percent, and he’s in talks with Sam’s Club and Safeway to take his supercaffeinated brand national. “Because of the exposure, we had grocery stores locally and nationally reach out to us,” Brown says.
The ad spot also spurred other small businesses in New York to suggest partnerships. Through one of those, Death Wish has its name on a forthcoming nitrogenized cold coffee, brewed and canned by Olde Saratoga Brewing Company. Brown says the new product will give his business “the opportunity to compete against energy drinks on the market" while going beyond cafes and its own website to reach customers at gas stations and via Amazon.
A collaboration with the Albany Distilling Company resulted in coffee-flavored Death Wish Vodka, and Brown’s coffee beans are also showing up in a line of Death Wish exfoliating soap, scrub, and body cream from Rad Soap Company in Cohoes, NY.
On September 1, Brown and his team will consolidate four small warehouses into one huge new location with new equipment and machines to handle the increased demand. He says vendors and partners are helping him scale the business.
He’s also working hard to keep tabs on all the growth. Brown says he speaks several times weekly with his accountant and is “finally at a point in the business where my financial reports are excellent.” It helps that his business won a lifetime subscription to Intuit’s Quickbooks platform as part of the Big Game contest. “Before the commercial ran, there were a lot of question marks,” he says. “I wasn’t sure if I should purchase or finance new equipment. Now I have all the data I need fill in those variables and make smarter decisions and be confident that I won’t put my business in a poor position.”
Perhaps the simplest takeaway from Death Wish Coffee’s experience in the past year: Compete for challenges like Intuit’s contest. You’ve got to be in it to win it.
Follow Adrienne Jane Burke at @adajane