Coffee Shift Inc., a startup that uses distributed ledger blockchain technology to allow bean growers to sell directly to customers by cutting out middlemen, announced its availability to investors via the equity crowdfunding site Wefunder starting today.
The Wefunder campaign plans to raise $250,000 to help change the current coffee ecosystem, which represents a staggering imbalance set against Colombian bean farmers.
Coffee Shift operates as a direct-to-consumer online coffee subscription service by integrating blockchain technology in order to bypass the expensive mechanism of coffee chain middlemen. This way, Coffee Shift says, growers get paid directly and fairly for delivering the finest international certified premium Colombian Arabica coffee available to its customers.
The company launched its e-commerce site and began taking orders in 2019 as the company began to grow. During which Coffee Shift’s employees learned about coffee beans, coffee making, farmers and the entire ecosystem.
After visiting the coffee-growing operations in Colombia, tasting the best coffee he’d ever had, Tyler Pinckard, founder and chief executive officer of Coffee Shift, decided to start the company. Coffee growers, he also discovered, often have to run their operations at a loss.
“We want to disrupt the current ecosystem where a majority of profits in the coffee trade are vacuumed up by middlemen and large corporations, leaving the grower to suffer,” said Pinckard. “Coffee Shift partners with the growers and shares ownership in our company so that the growers can grow with us.”
Coffee Shift’s model would make coffee growers themselves company stakeholders by forming direct, cooperative relationships with them. By using blockchain technology to bring traceability of data in the supply chain from bean farms to consumers, the model is aimed at revolutionizing the market, which stands at $13.6 billion in the United States alone.
The next steps for Coffee Shift include more online marketing via social media on Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads and Amazon. A pilot for roasting and packaging operations in California will commence next. After that, a program that will allow international payments using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum, designed to aid farmers who are not always able to use banks.
Coffee Shift is going to Wefunder as an investment opportunity because it does not want to go with a so-called initial coin offering, the newest way that blockchain startups make money by selling cryptocurrencies native to blockchain infrastructure. However, ICOs are often fraught with their own legal issues.
“For as little as $100, you can take part in creating autonomy and a level playing field for these incredibly hard-working coffee growers,” said Pinckard. “This equity will mean families can pay for medical care, schooling, and other essentials predictably. By approaching this problem with technology, we can further increase both the money received by the growers and the impact our business has on these families and communities.”
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