Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Bucha Brew. How and why did you start the company?
I began brewing kombucha in 2015 out of my kitchen after returning from a trip to Hawaii where I first discovered and fell in love with kombucha. To be able to drink something after pregnancy and while breastfeeding that wasn't water was a life saver. I loved that it was low in sugar, calories but awesome for digestion. I didn’t really know I was starting a company, I was just making a great beverage and people kept asking for it. A few months later I decided to take it into Whole Foods to see if they wanted to carry Bucha Brew and they did!
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, you worked as a chef and as a personal trainer. What did you learn about health and nutrition from those two experiences that you’ve since been able to apply at Bucha Brew?
I feel like I have always been an entrepreneur! I built my own personal training business and after completing my Red Seal chef training, I used that knowledge to start a meal delivery business. That was back in 2010 before meal delivery was really popular. One of the lessons I learned early on is that people generally want to take the path of least resistance. If you can help them attain their goals with them putting in as little work as possible, they are sold. I have transferred this mindset over to Bucha Brew. Being available in as many locations as possible and having really simple great tasting flavours has gone a long way.
And as a former chef, what would you say is the perfect food pairing to go with a tasty glass of Kombucha?
Love an afternoon kombucha with a bowl of Hardbite chips. I usually have my booch after I eat to help with digestion and as a mid afternoon pick me up.
Kombucha as an industry is experiencing astronomical growth right now - as much as 25% year on year. What do you think is the main reason for this boom?
People know that their health is paramount. More people are starting to look at functional foods and ask themselves “why would I choose a drink that has zero benefit and actually does more harm than good?” They know how they feel after having a kombucha and it’s a heck of a lot better than drinking a pop. People want to be in control of their choices, especially when it comes to their health and wellbeing. For them to go to the store and consciously choose a Bucha Brew, that’s a small but tangible choice that can empower them to continue making those good decisions.
Bucha Brew is a purposeful business. Can you explain what that means?
I would love to say Bucha Brew is an impact company, but to truly be considered impact we would need to be able to measure our gains. For example, Bucha Brew has prevented x amount of type 1 diabetics across Canada. That’s real, and we know we are helping reduce sugar intake but it is such a hard thing to measure. We want to use Bucha Brew as a vehicle to reach thousands of people per day to help solve the problems of the world. Building a positive regenerative community is so important to us. Having the topics we discuss and our everyday choices reflected throughout the community is our way to bring about positive change in the world.
What’s been the most surprising thing to you about founding Bucha Brew?
The most surprising piece to me is how often people want to hear my story, the story of how Bucha Brew started and what the future narrative might be.
And what about the most challenging?
Time. Having two boys (3 and 5) the business and taking care of myself has been my biggest struggle since the inception of Bucha Brew. It’s getting so much better but the amount of guilt that I carried for the first few years was really hard. Whenever I was with the kids I felt like I needed to be working on the business and vice versa.
How do you balance those two things, being an entrepreneur and a mother?
It’s really challenging, especially nowadays!! I know all parents are feeling it, working from home, the kids aren’t in school, that’s a recipe for disaster ??.
As I mentioned in the previous question the guilt really weighed heavy in the first few years. I went to a slow business conference in 2018, called SVI. It’s five days on Cortez at Hollyhock. This was the first time I had ever been away from the kids and the business for that long. I met a woman there who helped me put into perspective why I was feeling that guilt. I spent all of 2019 focused on this and I worked so hard to overcome the feelings of trying to be everywhere all at the same time. Once I figured out how to be fully present while I was at work; and fully present when I was with the kids, no phone, no computer, no distractions, things got a lot easier to balance. Sounds simple right?
So what do you do when you’re not at work or being a mum? Is there even time for anything else?
Hell yes! We all need time for ourselves and it is so important to be able to take time away from everything to reflect, grow, learn, and RELAX. The most important piece is actually taking the time. For me it’s getting into the mountains, ski touring, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, finding freezing cold lakes to jump into and just breathing in the clean air.
This is your second time running a campaign on FrontFundr. Why did you choose investment crowdfunding for your business in the first place?
I started Bucha Brew on my own. I didn’t know that incubators and accelerators existed back then, I barely knew what an entrepreneur was. What I did know was that Bucha Brew was popular and it was growing quickly. I waited far too long to approach the world of investing and by the time I received mentorship, coaching and developed a small advisory board our cash flow was a serious challenge. We had gone from 300 accounts in BC and Alberta to 1500 accounts across Canada in less than 6 months, I really underestimated how much the growth and expansion would cost.
FrontFundr is a different way to raise capital. After extensively researching crowdfunding for equity, studying winning campaigns and the ones that missed the mark I decided that this was the road for Bucha Brew. The timing from initial phone call to launch to our first close went by in the blink of an eye (that 3 months in an entrepreneur vortex). Having control over all aspects of the raise was empowering, and I was excited to grow our loyal fanbase. At the close of our first campaign we had over 100 investors and $400,000, how amazing is this Canadian community!?
And why did you come back for a second campaign?
Round two was an interesting decision. We had an investor group interested after the last FF round and we had been in communications with them for 8 months. We had completed due diligence and they were ready to move, and then COVID hit. All VC capital screeched to a halt and we had to quickly change gears. I decided early April that we were going to launch on May 1 on FrontFundr.
It was definitely a risky time to launch a raise but the community was online more than ever and people weren't ‘busy’ like they were before. We have had really great traction for this raise, the average person spending over 6 mins on our page (in internet time longer than 15 seconds can seem like eternity). People are engaged and want to learn more, not only about Bucha Brew, but about crowdfunding for equity as well.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world at the minute. Why did you decide to launch your campaign now?
I spoke earlier about Bucha Brew being a purposeful business, one of our core values is regenerative community. We want to be a positive influence for change and we want to inspire people to live their best lives with their neighbours, the environment and their communities close to their hearts. We felt that launching this raise was a symbol of hope for small Canadian businesses. We wanted to launch at this time to prove that the community, no matter how hard times may be, are still there to support their local businesses. This is a story we want to tell and continue to tell as Bucha Brew grows along with our amazing tribe.
How has it been received?
Amazing, the outpouring of support is more than I could have ever imagined
What do you hope to achieve as a result of the campaign?
Our community grows, our product offerings expand, our store count increases and we have more opportunities to communicate our amazing message about health, wellness, regenerative community, and that we get to be a positive influence for the change this world needs.
Where do you see Bucha Brew in 12 months’ time?
World domination…jokes... scroll our FrontFundr page to find out!