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Brewing Success: Coffee startup helps train young entrepreneurs

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By Annika Tomlin

ASU’s renowned business program has yielded yet another coup.

Brewbike, a coffee startup that empowers college students by providing hands-on entrepreneurial experience and brews, recently expanded to 11 universities, including ASU.

“Honestly, ASU had been a target (location) for us since we started Brewbike,” CEO Sierra Bloodgood says. “It’s in our area in the Southwest, and it has a great business program.

“We’ve been looking at ASU for a while, and it’s very hard to be able to get on college campuses, so we started our conversation with ASU years ago. These conversations typically take a long time, but there was an opportunity to launch in Durham Hall as the building was getting renovated, and now we are at Durham Hall.”

Durham Hall is on ASU’s Tempe campus next to the Old Main building.

Founded in 2015 by Northwestern University students, Brewbike is a student-led business with the objective of changing the game for future leaders, Bloodgood says.

“We equip students, we equip young people with the skills that they need to run a business as we give them a seat at the table,” Bloodgood says.

“We think that young people do have the ability to successfully run a business. We use this as an opportunity to boost each other up and to bolster our business while we truly create the building blocks for the better future of young people.”

Bloodgood and her team hire each college’s leadership team from chief executive officer to chief marketing officer and chief people officer as well as the front house manager. From there, the CEO and other leadership staff partner with Brewbike to hire the baristas and the rest of what Bloodgood calls “the brewcrew.”

“We launch student-run coffee shops at college campuses around the country,” Bloodgood says. “The whole goal is to turn students into leaders.

“Essentially what we do is we go to college campuses and we find students who want to be entrepreneurs and then we empower them with the skills that they need to launch their own businesses. These students are truly at the core of everything that we do at Brewbike.”

Bloodgood learned about Brewbike while attending the University of Texas in Austin. After learning about the business model, Brewbike reached out to Bloodgood to see if she wanted to come on board as the chief marketing officer. 

Prior to Brewbike, she was the vice president of marketing at Guinn Partners with prior stops at C3 Present and Box.com.

“I started at Brewbike as the CMO, and it was right at the beginning of COVID as we were closing down all of our shops and we were launching our direct-to-consumer brands,” Bloodgood says. “That was my main focus for those few months that we were not on campus during COVID.”

During this time, Brewbike rebranded with a new website that helped support the direct-to-consumer products.

“Once we did all that we launched the brand, launched the new site, had the direct-to-consumer sort of rolling we were looking at the 2021-22 school year and decided that it was time to start selling in some new schools to look at some campus expansion,” Bloodgood says. “Pre-COVID we were at four campuses.”

Brewbike’s direct-to-consumer program was launched in late 2020. Bloodgood added chief revenue officer role as she helped with the campus expansion. In November 2021, she was promoted to the company’s chief executive officer. The products are strong, she says.

Brewbike features five brews, including original, chocolate, cinnamon sugar brew, peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice. The original and cinnamon sugar also come in decaf. Each $18 package comes with 10 brew bags.

“(My favorite brew is) definitely OG,” Bloodgood says. “Everybody loves cinnamon sugar and cinnamon sugar is the best, I get it, but definitely OG. It’s just a great coffee. It’s a good cold brew.”

Customers can add one brew bag to a glass for every 1 cup of water and steep overnight in the fridge or make it hot, just like a teabag.

Brewbike is also in Elon, Florida Atlantic, James Madison, Northwestern and Texas State universities, along with the University of Houston, University of Miami, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah and University of Virginia.

Brewbike future fund

While the direct-to-consumer brand was launched, Brewbike kicked off the Future Fund, which serves as its grant program.

“When we launched our direct-to-consumer business we started taking donations for Future Fund and then we matched those donations and essentially put together a grant program for students,” Bloodgood explains.

“Our students last year applied to be part of a Future Fund to start a business. Essentially, they submit a business plan and then we go through a pitch competition and then we narrow down and select one business to give the grant to.”

The first Future Fund grant recipient was Northwestern University student and Brewbike employee Lila Wells, who used it to open a chapter of the Unite Passion Project in Tanzania.

Bloodgood says they plan on “doing it again most likely in April.” To learn more, visit brewbike.com. CT

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