Getting the right technology and expert advice has brewed success for Perth-based coffee roasting company and online retailer Grouch & Co.
Renata Taylor’s grandma was quite the legend. Picture this: a Croatian immigrant in Australia, roasting coffee beans over a stovetop in her kitchen, and then throwing them across a table with newspapers to cool them down.
“My dad told me these stories and I thought if Nona can do this in a low-tech way, I can learn how to roast coffee,” she tells Startup Daily.
In 2014 Renata and her husband were running several cafés in Perth when she launched Grouch & Co, a specialist coffee roasting company, initially to supply her own businesses.
“We were looking for ethically traded, transparently-sourced good coffee that was also not having a huge impact on the people that produce it,” she says. “But we couldn’t find anything that we loved.”
The company quickly found its niche, selling distinct coffee blends to the community, including local cafés.
With both retail and wholesale booming, the couple made a strategic move just ahead of the pandemic to sell their other cafés and focus solely on Grouch & Co. As well as the espresso bar, the company now has a training arm, teaching both professional baristas and everyday coffee enthusiasts in the art of brewing.
Its online coffee distribution business has also grown fast and now makes up most of the company’s sales, shipping unique blends, coffee gear, and pantry essentials all over Australia.
But, like many fast-growing businesses, the company faced issues with their eCommerce website.
“We’ve now built our fourth site. We’ve been through every platform imaginable and spent so much money,” says Renata
“For anyone wanting to start an online business, tech is the biggest hurdle and it’s not talked about enough.”
The startup program that’s helped Grouch & Co
The Dell for Startups program provides advisors to help startups with all their technology needs.
Members also get access to discounts, help to find and apply for public funding for their tech needs, and invitations to exclusive events, pitch competitions and networking.
“I wish I’d educated myself more in the beginning to learn the best ways of doing things when it came to tech,” says Renata, who also has a fledgling tea business, Antipotea.
“I love that I can ask questions, get access to dedicated experts and work out if there’s a better way we can scale quickly. We want to make informed decisions driven by data and Dell helps us do that.”
One example is when the company wanted to run digital signage. A Dell tech expert advised Renata to look into an Optiplex 3000 – a tiny computer tower that connects to the back of a screen and runs everything.
“I’d never heard of it, but we got it and it’s perfect for what we needed,” says Renata.
A laptop that roasts coffee?
In fact, the whole business is powered by Dell. Last year Renata received $20,000 worth of Dell technology as a recipient of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Dream Tech Competition.
She kitted out the business with a range of tech including 55-inch touchscreens for on-site ordering, and even a laptop that helps to roast the coffee.
“The roaster is connected to the internet and we monitor the temperature and other data to make sure we get the best brew,” says Renata.
Investing in the right technology and infrastructure has also been key to the growth of the eCommerce side of the business.
“We’ve got great Dell computer towers that are just powerhouses and support our online business,” says Renata. “Without them, we’d be much slower to fulfill orders.”
Elevating female coffee roasters
As for the future, Renata is keen to continue to grow the online business for Grouch & Co, as well as scale up her tea startup.
She’s also keen to elevate women in the coffee roasting industry.
“There’s only one or two women who run coffee roasting businesses,” says Renata.
“Most of the time, we’re front of house serving customers. But there are so many more roles in the coffee industry for women and part of our ethos as a female-led company is to help encourage women to break down those barriers.”
No doubt her grandma would be proud.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with Dell Technologies.