Before the crisis, Dream Wide Awake brought its own brand of specialty coffee experience (including bottled coffee) to events. By March 2020, we had cancellations and zero new bookings.
As a home-based company (with my wife and I as employees), we didn’t need to worry about fixed operational costs. But we have utility bills and loan payments. To maintain revenue, going online was the next step for us. However, we realized that we shouldn’t do that either, at least for now. Here’s why.
Disinfection methods weren’t reassuring
The courier wore a sponge mask and open-finger gloves. The vegetables were inside an open tote bag, which he would have handed over straight to me if I hadn’t told him to back off. We paid online, had the package placed on a chair, and picked it up once he was several steps away. I washed the veggies with vinegar while wearing goggles, masks, long sleeves, and gloves. These disinfection methods weren’t reassuring—it’s still radioactive graphite in a tote bag.
Our products are virus-free in our house. But we can’t be so sure of that anymore once we sent it away for delivery. Soon after, we called our suppliers. Bottles already had a deadline for last orders. These were non-essentials so couriers were being turned away at checkpoints. Our Benguet coffee partner refocused the only product they could sell—chayote. Trucks carried vegetables but not coffee—a non-essential commodity.
Once we run out, we can‘t replenish our stocks.
Our products are virus-free in our house. But we can’t be so sure of that anymore once we sent it away for delivery. Soon after, we called our suppliers. Bottles already had a deadline for last orders. These were non-essentials so couriers were being turned away at checkpoints.
Coffee can keep frontliners awake but fewer patients will help them get sleep
We formulated methods to ensure we’re virus-free from production to delivery. We’ll measure our body temperature, note it down on the delivery slip, and construct a sanitation tent for couriers. We even designed an acrylic box installed in our car in case we had to deliver products ourselves.
Ultimately, we’d still be risking spreading the infection. Coffee can help our frontliners stay awake, but fewer patients will help them get some sleep. Takeouts and deliveries provide a lifeline but they’re still risks for coronavirus to spread. So we opted not to continue the business—unless things start to change for the better.
We can try again
Through swift action, widespread testing, contact tracing, and critical support from citizens, South Korea stands out as the country that seemed to have flattened the curve.
US-based Blue Bottle Coffee Lab continues to operate their stores in Korea and Japan. ”The information there is more complete, with extensive testing and medical support clearly in place. As a result, we believe it is currently safe to operate there with the enhanced health and wellness measures we have implemented.“
As of writing, the quarantine has been extended until Apr. 30. For the time being, it isn’t safe yet. But once our country applies the same effective methods, we can try again.
This is not the time for sales. This is the time for branding
Dream Wide Awake may be in hibernation for the next three months but that won’t stop us from dreaming.
In a Mar. 13 digital public forum by the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc., family business adviser Enrique Soriano said, “Start with a beginner’s mind.”
Working from home as content specialists is a way for us to address bills and provisions during the quarantine. It’s who we were before Dream Wide Awake, so it’s where we can start again. “No, this is not the time for sales. This is the time for branding”, says Paul Diaz of Bean & Barley. “The kind of brand messaging that your customers need to hear must communicate the value that you can deliver to them in these trying times.”
Our new pre-order system allows us to pre-order ingredients from our local farmers as well. We can’t provide drinks now, but it’s revenue for us and our partners while we wait for the quarantine to be lifted.
No, this is not the time for sales. This is the time for branding”, says Paul Diaz of Bean & Barley. “The kind of brand messaging that your customers need to hear must communicate the value that you can deliver to them in these trying times.”
“I call on business leaders to scale up their actions #ForPeopleForPlanet,” says UN deputy secretary-general Amina J. Mohammed. “The #COVID19 pandemic reminds us that we need to not only take care of ourselves but also others and our shared home. We are all interdependent and we will need each other to get through this.”
To all entrepreneurs, employees, or consumers—we all need to figure this out as a community.