Meet Jodi Watson of SmartCanister
More than 10 years ago, while I was working as the head of a direct-to-consumer division at a large footwear manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, my husband came up with this idea while playing around in the Maker space. At the time, Kirby owned a small coffee company called Direct Trade Coffee Club, where he sourced, roasted and fulfilled coffee orders for consumers and companies. His idea came about because he saw that his customers had a hard time accurately ordering and reordering their coffee online because all subscriptions are based on time vs. consumption.
While at the Maker space, he met a couple of like-minded technology geeks, and the the three of them started working together to come up with a better way to re-order a commodity – like coffee – using a device with a built in algorithgm to predict coffee re-ordering based solely on consumption.
Fast forward to just a couple of years ago, life got in the way as it often does, Kirby sold his coffee company in Michigan, we moved back to the west coast, and we started a new coffee company in San Diego, called 7 Cold Brew. While Kirby was building 7 Cold Brew, he never forgot about this idea that he and his colleagues had first discussed many years before, and in 2017, he reconnected with his Maker friends in Michigan, sold 7 Cold Brew to a new owner, and SmartCanister was officially born. At this time, I became the Chief Marketing Officer while we continued to build the business.
Today, SmartCanister is a better way of ordering coffee online and replaces the traditional subscription model because it predicts how much and when you’ll need more – ensuring that the customer gets the freshest coffee possible while never running out. We are entering a beta phase for the product, we have a premier manufacturer partner, Planetary Design, whose CEO lives in the LA area, and we have initial working prototypes ready for launch. We are currently raising capital to advance us to the next phase, and we couldn’t be more excited about how this product and platform are going to change the way people buy and consume coffee in the future.
Life has a way of interupting your best laid plans. For us, Kirby had a great idea, but it was still just a passion project while we both were running other companies or had other jobs. It’s difficult to start a new company or launch a new product idea when you’re already working full time.
We also didn’t want to be in the hardware business; we want to be in the data and software-as-service business for our consumers. So, we needed to find a great manufacturer partner who we could trust, who shares our values, and who can share our vision in this disruption-ripe market. We are thrilled to be teaming up with the folks at Planetary Design, based in Missoula, Montana. Today, Planetary Design is the premier vendor for airtight coffee storage, selling to some of the best retailers in North America.
As we enter this next stage of development, navigating the road to raise capital presents its own challenges and hurdles; at this stage, we hear “no” or “maybe” more than yes. We’ve found that we have to kiss a lot of frogs before we find our Prince.
We are a patent-pending Internet of Things technology play that measures, predicts and automatically reorders coffee from your favorite roaster. We are obsessed with our consumer, which is why we came up with this idea in the first place: to provide convenience and ease of ordering your favorite coffee at home, just when you need it.
We solve the problem of running out of coffee on Sunday morning, or having too much of it stack up in your cabinet past its peak freshness. We take the guesswork out of reordering and ensure the customer doesn’t have to make another stop in their busy week to go to their favorite roaster or continue to tweak or manage their existing subscription business.
Our technology is app based, easy to use, and uses an in-home WIFI connection. It’s a better way to buy and consume the freshest coffee at home, just when you need it.
We are a small team that’s worked in coffee, robotics, technology and marketing for more than twenty years. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, coffee runs through our veins and to us, is as American as baseball and apple pie.
We are really excited to launch our Beta test early this summer – interested early adopters (e.g. coffee consumers!) can sign up at www.SmartCanister.com. Or, you can contact my husband, Kirby, or me at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
After being in Corporate America for more than 20 years, we define success in a number of ways. Business success is defined by growth and profit markers, new customer growth, retention of existing customers and consumer satisfaction.
Softer success factors shape why we started this company in the first place and helped define our values that we live by at the company every day. Some of those are:
1) Putting our consumers first
2) Being a great partner and giving back to our communities
3) Thinking differently
4) Moving forward together as a Team, ensuring we don’t work with any “jerks”
5) Doing the right thing (even if it costs us money)