The Silicon Review
Coffee is not just a beverage it is a lifestyle. From that first wake-up call in the morning to the that much needed cup in the afternoon, to a conversation over a cuppa with your friend, coffee is an integral part of our lives. But where and how did it all start?
From the Mocha Port, in Yemen where coffee was first traded as a beverage in the 1400’s to the palm of your hands now with COFE App, this much-loved beverage seems to have completed a full circle. Coffee has gone from a simple beverage used to keep alert to an art that is now being perfected with every cup world-over. From international franchises to local coffee roasters, everyone is working to create that perfect cup for their customers. And while everyone is busy perfecting the craft, COFE App is working towards shortening the distance between coffee lovers and their daily caffeine-fix.
With coffee drinkers constantly on a look out for new and innovative ways to experience their favorite beverage, COFE App is a simple yet path breaking app that helps consumers spend less time waiting in lines, and more time enjoying their coffee.
With Time being a premium commodity, every consumer is looking to find a smarter, more efficient way to go about their day, from cabs, to food and flowers, everything is available on your phone, except of course coffee. Well not anymore!
We’re thrilled to present COFE App, a coffee-centric mobile application that makes coffee ordering simple, fast, and efficient. This state-of-the-art coffee app COFE gives users quick access to a wide range of independent and franchise COFE vendors through multiple premium service options. The mobile application was officially launched in November 2018 in Kuwait and has since expanded to serve customers across GCC (UAE, KSA, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain) with plans to open UK and Turkey in Q2 of 2020, becoming the only mobile application going from the region to the international market instead of vice-versa.
Ali Al Ebrahim, Founder &CEO of COFE App with the Silicon Review about his passion for coffee and technology, and what went into to creating an a company that literally puts COFE in people’s hands. Below is an excerpt.
Q. There are other refreshing beverages in the market, what made you to focus on coffee alone?
Because that’s what we love and want to share with the world. For us COFE is not just a beverage, it’s a conversation we want to have with our customers. A community we aspire to create. As coffee enthusiasts, we think it is only natural for a business such as COFE App to boom in a market like ours. Since its establishment, COFE App has received widespread appreciation from users and media in Kuwait, across the GCC region and internationally.
We are revolutionizing this industry further by bringing cutting-edge technology to coffee mix. COFE App uses an intuitive user-interface to give more value-add to coffee drinkers. With the only multi-brand loyalty program in the region, in-store services in addition to delivery and customization options, we have both international coffee chains, as well as local artisanal stores on offer for all kinds of coffee lovers. COFE is a complete online marketplace app for our customers.
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years?
Startups are a tough business. With a new mobile application coming up every hour, being different is just as important as being relevant. Your idea not only has to be simple, but the execution impeccable. There is also a shortage of talent when it comes to mobile app developers and coders in the market. To find qualified technical staff and to be able to compensate them for their skill (high salaries) are two of the biggest challenges for a technology start up.
But most importantly, finding investors who can understand the growth potential of your business idea and invest in field that although exponentially growing is still relatively new.
Q. Why do you think there is need for a dedicated app for ordering coffee?
The coffee marketplace offers a $4.3 Billion growth opportunity. Specialty coffee shops alone have shown a 60% growth rate in recent years. Given the data, both the coffee market and the mobile application industries are showing phenomenal growth rates, and thus COFE App.
COFE App is the only mobile application in the market that allows ordering, customization and payment from multiple coffee vendors on one platform. While it makes business sense for global leaders like Starbucks and Costa to have their own application, players without that kind of reach, resources or market share are not having much success with the creation of their own platform. This is where COFE App levels the playing field for all kinds of coffee vendors.
Q. There are many reputed food delivery apps in the market, what makes you a better service provider?
We’re the only COFE marketplace app that offers a customized loyalty program for all our vendors. The COFE Rewards Program rewards our customers for doing something they do every day, get COFE. With an intelligent user interface, premium services and a love for coffee, the app has everything a coffee lover could ask for. From coffee beverages to coffee beans and coffee machines, we have got it all.
COFE App is a lifestyle application that connects coffee house chains and independent coffee roasters with coffee lovers via a seamless, easy, and efficient user-interface. Instead of just delivering food or drinks to our app users, we want to become a part of their life. We want to become an app that makes their life easy and helps them save time.
Q. How do you market your service?
COFE App uses a multi-pronged marketing approach. We do not try to convert customers en-masse but instead target customers based on the services they are most likely to use through COFE App. For each scenario we have developed a set of online and offline marketing touch points that are entertaining, informative and engaging. A bulk of the coffee marketing is carried out online through social media platforms, in addition to in-app marketing tools, referral programs and gifting options.
We also work with strategic corporate partners. Our partnerships with the B2B industry is a win-win solution for both brands, as it helps COFE market its products, services and COFE Shops to a large yet targeted set of customers.
Q. What are the future plans for the growth of your company?
Our number one priority has always been expansion. With expansion comes new features and as a tech company we have new releases with upgraded user flow and better services monthly. And so in addition to expanding to new locations, we also continue to grow our offerings to include more coffee-centric services, greater number of products and offerings, and cover a larger user-base to include coffee wholesalers and coffee bean farmers into the mix, making it a marketplace app not just for a user seeking a cup of coffee everyday, but small and medium businesses looking to buy products and services in bulk.
We soon plan to launch the COFE Store that will also connect coffee bean farmers from around the world directly to end consumers, giving farmers a chance to sell their produce for higher profit margins. The COFE Subscriptions model introduced within the COFE Store will also ensure repeat business as coffee beans as a commodity need regular replenishments. The wholesale services to be offered by within this umbrella will cater to the vast amounts of raw materials required for the running of an efficient and well-serviced coffee shop. COFE App would acquire these raw materials like beans, milk, confectionery items and coffee machines in wholesale and redistribute them at a cheaper rate to the Coffee vendor. COFE App expects that this service will not only benefit smaller vendors but also bring consistency in the quality of products used by both international franchises and local artisanal coffee roasters.
The man who made it possible, meet Ali Al Ebrahim
Ali is the Founder and CEO of Kuwait-based COFE App. The mobile application acts as an online coffee marketplace giving coffee lovers access to coffee chain houses as well as specialty coffee roasters. COFE App was created by Ali in an effort to bring innovation to people’s daily coffee rituals. A coffee enthusiast himself, Ali thinks it is only natural for a business such as COFE App to boom in a market where coffee is not just a beverage but a tradition. Ali is also the recipient of the Arabian Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2019), while COFE App was shortlisted as a top 5 finalist for the London Tech Innovation Award, received the Top Tech Companies in Asia award by InterCon, listed by Forbes (ME) as one of the top 50 startups in the Arab World to Watch (2018), and the most promising 100 Arab Start Ups by Arab Youth Centre in Dubai, UAE (2017).
Ali pursued his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Missouri, Kansas City (USA) followed by an executive certification in Technology, Operations and Value Chain Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management), giving him the academic edge and technical know-how to establish a niche for himself in the business and technology industries.
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