High quality, locally roasted coffee is easy to find these days; however, how many of these small batch coffee roasters donate a portion of their sales to a nationwide law enforcement charity. Seattle native, Carl Orsi, founded Thin Blue Line Coffee with the mindset of helping the families of officers who died while protecting others. Read on to learn how his company is overcoming competition hurdles and supporting a great cause.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you sell at Thin Blue Line Coffee.
I am a retired City of Berkeley police sergeant who sells delicious, small batch, gourmet coffee to raise attention and funds for a law enforcement charities.
When did you get started selling online? Why?
I started selling coffee online in August 2016. Selling online allows me to reach customers nationwide – ultimately helping support a nationwide cause. Also, the startup costs of having an online business was attainable and the ecommerce business model is well-established.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in building and running Thin Blue Line Coffee?
The biggest challenge is being noticed in a sea of competition. There are a lot of businesses that sell similar products, but having a greater purpose than just making money helps me to stand out from the competition. The other big challenge is converting those who support my cause with a “like” to being paying customers who support the cause with a purchase. I overcame some of these challenges by showing that I really do ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’ and keep my messaging on the purpose of the business (sales funding charity) instead of just selling items. Also, having a story helps, because the media likes a story instead of just a company selling products, and I’ve been fortunate to be noticed by local media (newspaper, radio and television).The media likes a story instead of just a company selling products. Click To Tweet
How do you attract new customers?
My biggest advertising budget has been in promoting posts on Facebook because it is easier to target a defined audience. I have a common product, but my supported charity is a niche market and making sure the right people see my page is important.
Can you share a tip or something interesting you learned in the process of building and running Thin Blue Line Coffee?
After I retired from a career in law enforcement, I spent some time in the software industry. One lesson I learned in the software industry was to go live with a minimum viable product (MVP) because you don’t know if you’ll be successful and you may need to pivot quickly. If you’ve invested too much in your product, then pivoting becomes difficult and expensive. As a result, I went live with only 4 products, which has since grown to 11 products. Having only 4 products allowed me to learn what sells and what doesn’t and also, allowed me to listen to my customers and bring on the products that they wanted as opposed to what I thought they wanted.Listen to your customers and bring on the products they want. Click To Tweet
If you’re in search of coffee that not only tastes great, but also benefits charity, check out Thin Blue Line Coffee.