Grinds Coffee Pouches
Late one hot summer night in San Luis Obispo, California, two college roommates searched an almost empty cupboard for something to stay awake and complete a much-neglected marketing project. With little in the house, and in true college fashion, the two decided quite simply to start chewing coffee grinds the way they had seen others chew tobacco throughout their baseball careers.
Having played baseball all their lives, they immediately started brainstorming a strategy for marketing their idea. The plan was simple: take the product to Major League Baseball and promote it as a healthy alternative to tobacco and convenient energy boost.
Video: Grinds appears on Shark Tank!
The Value of Free Pizza
The two friends didn’t put much more thought into their delirious idea until seeing a flyer outside a classroom for a small event that read: “Have a Cool Idea? Free Pizza!” Naturally, as any smart, starving college student would do, they jumped at the opportunity for a free meal and attended the meeting. What started with a short questionnaire and some free pizza ended 6 months later with a 1st place finish and a small cash prize for winning a campus-wide business plan competition known as Innovation Quest. Armed with their prize money and facing one of the worst job markets in history for college graduates, Pat and Matt decided to see if their idea had real potential as a business. Just like that, Grinds was born.
A Phone Call in November
As the 2010 baseball season came to end, the consensus from players was consistent and disappointing: great idea, not-so-great product. Grinds had failed to make an impact in Major League Baseball…or at least so it seemed. Two days after their home team - the San Francisco Giants - won the World Series, Matt and Pat received a voicemail. As soon as the message started playing, they knew it was a special call:
“Hey guys, Bruce Bochy here...”
None other than the manager of the San Francisco Giants, who that very same day had spoken with the President of the United States, was also making a call to Grinds. He expressed his appreciation for the product and told the guys he had been using it during the season to help him stop using chewing tobacco. This was all the motivation the two needed to get to work on creating a quality product to match the potential of their idea.
Time to Grind it Out
Following the phone call from Bruce Bochy, Pat and Matt set out on a quest across the globe to find the best machinery and manufacturers in the world to bring Grinds to its full potential. Finding a manufacturer willing to take a chance on a young company and new idea was difficult, and after months of searching they found someone willing to give them a shot.
With a vastly improved product, the feedback from players that next season was again consistent but this time much more favorable: great idea, great product...how do I get more? That year, Grinds was featured in ESPN the Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fox Business Channel, followed by an appearance on Shark Tank. The two friends had taken their simple idea and were now sharing it with the world.
A Message From Grinds’ Founders:
We sometimes joke that we chalked up Grinds as a success back in 2009 when someone was willing to give us free pizza to talk about our idea. Nearly seven years later, our idea has led us on an amazing journey. We know the brief success we have enjoyed is due to the support provided by our friends and family who encouraged us along the way.