Matthew Roberts has brought about one of the biggest revolutions in the coffee and beverage space that we’ve seen since the birth of Starbucks and the frappuccino.
On the Dealmakers Podcast, Roberts talked about reinventing coffee, how travel can provide inspiration for great startups, the fundraising journey, and how early you need to begin raising for your next round. Plus, improving the lives of those throughout the supply chain, and the future of the beverage industry.
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Travel, Problem Solving & Entrepreneurship
Matthew Roberts was born and grew up in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Just a five-minute boat ride from where he heads up his booming business today.
He was always up to some entrepreneurial adventure through high school. A mentality certainly influenced by his father. His dad had his own business making equipment for the automotive industry and their factories.
Matthew was able to witness the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur firsthand. How his work continued to scale through deals with GM, Ford, then Rivian, and Tesla. Though what was really most impactful was the inspiration to build something of your own. Something real.
Later Matthew would go on to really create a new generation of machines, that, in many ways, has continued his father’s legacy. Only today, his machines are a fraction of the size of his father’s, which took up whole factory floors and were much quieter.
Initially, he thought he would go on to create a software or SaaS business. Then a study abroad experience in Spain changed everything.
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College In Pamplona, Spain
During his junior year in college, he stayed in Pamplona, Spain. A city famous for the running of the bulls. An experience that firstly opened his eyes to so much more culture. His classmates came from across Spain, as well as India, and Hong Kong. He discovered delicious Indian food and Spanish tapas.
The one big problem he encountered was missing his beloved iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts back home in the United States. If you asked for an iced coffee in a local coffee bar in Spain, they would give you a cup of coffee and a glass of ice so that you could try and juggle making your own.
It was a huge void. So, he began attempting to make his own iced coffee in his apartment there. No easy feat to get right. As you know, if you’ve ever tried to replicate an iced coffee or frappe at home yourself. Either your hot coffee gets too diluted and watered down, or if you try to cool it in the fridge overnight, it ends up tasting stale.
Determining to solve this dilemma for himself, he kept on experimenting. What he struck on was brewing strong coffee, then freezing it as ice chips and ice cubes, which he could then melt to drink later.
Although he continued to pursue his studies and interest in enterprise software, the more people he showed his prototypes to and let taste his coffee, the more other people said they would buy it too.
Perfecting Coffee & Finding Your Cofounders
By networking Roberts was able to connect with George Howell. George is the guy that created the hit frappuccino recipe, which was bought by Starbucks and is now world-famous for spawning a whole new trend.
Matthew took him a sample of his coffee. Howell practically spat it out and told him it was horrid. Thankfully, he also took him to experience what an amazing single-origin coffee should taste like if brewed with excellence.
Matthew says it was the best thing he had tasted up until then. So he froze a sample with dry ice and took it home.
He returned six months later and turned that frozen coffee into a delicious drink that met the approval of Howell’s entire sensory team. Through perfecting the freezing process, he was able to create some of the freshest coffee ever. Which today are available in little frozen coffee pucks you can melt and mix into your favorite beverage at home. All in an aluminum capsule that is recyclable. Available through his company Cometeer.
Next, of course, was the challenge to do this at scale. So, he went about recruiting an incredible band of cofounders. Which includes three technical cofounders. One is an industrial coffee engineer, with a successful startup exit of his own. Another came from Keurig. Then a world-class chemist. Together they created a machine with over 1,000 unique sensors and valves for perfectly brewing every bean.
Looking forward, Matthew sees a revolution in the beverage and coffee space. A world in which you’ll find your coffee and other beverages in the freezer.
To date, Cometeer has already raised more than $100M through their Series B round.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Matthew Roberts was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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That has grown from early friends and family money to the family office of Keurig Green Mountain, to the former president of Nespresso, then more institutional investors.
Starting out, he says that raising from friends and family can give you some credibility. After all, if they don’t believe in you, that isn’t a good sign to outside investors.
When it comes to your seed round, he says you need to be prepared for a lot of rejection. You may get lucky with 20% to 25% of those you pitch providing a check.
Then once you begin hitting your milestones, you can hone in on a few targeted investors for more institutional rounds. However, he warns that it can take you nine months to go from meeting those investors to money in the bank. So, start early.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The fundraising process
- The future of the beverage business
- Perfecting the coffee experience
- Helping cities reinvent themselves
- Matthew Roberts top advice for other entrepreneurs