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Hoping Death Wish Coffee Scores Big

Feb 4, 2016 | Entrepreneurs


What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup. ~Henry Rollinsdeath wish

There’s a good chance you and I have a few things in common, like:

  1. Owning/operating/being involved in a small business, or considering it.
  2. Clearing time to watch the Super Bowl along with 189 million others.
  3. Enjoying the occasional/regular/constant/incessant/don’t-bother-me-until-my-second cup of coffee.

Those three seemingly-disconnected ideas will all converge on Sunday, when Death Wish Coffee will get its 30 seconds of fame during the third quarter of the big game.  The upstate New York-based company garnered enough votes to win a free commercial, paid for by Intuit Quickbooks. Last year they launched the campaign for small businesses and the winner was Goldieblox, a toy company specializing in girl-centric products.

Death Wish has generated a buzz all its own in the last few years and has a sizeable following of aficionados and caffeine junkies. Even if it hadn’t won the contest, it was already displaying some small business strategies we can all learn from:

  1. It boasts that its contents will deliver the highest dose of caffeine in its grounds.
  2. Its skull and bones branding stands out from its peers.
  3. They’ve already produced the “thank you” video to their voters.
  4. Between the caliber of the coffee, the social media engagement, and small line of merchandise it offers, Death Wish delivers an in-demand product at a price point most people are willing to pay for the taste and experience.

Small businesses often already endure the bitter end of capitalism’s daily grind. Death Wish had a 1-in-15,000 chance of winning this commercial. Now the odds are that just from the exposure, the business will stay hot for at least the short term, and all the employees’ lives may get a little sweeter.

As Death Wish’s owner, Mike Brown pointed out, if even a fraction of the anticipated 189 million viewers go to the site and order one bag, that’ll increase output by possibly 1 million bags of coffee. Or drive site traffic. Or in-store traffic.

At $20 a bag, the potential is there for them to do an extra $20 million in business.

In anticipation of the flood of activity Brown wisely hired two more employees — bringing the head count up to 11 or 12. I hope he plans to beef up spending for tax and legal advice because it’s a foregone conclusion that the revenues will change for year-ending 2016.

Should that happen the company will be in a different tax bracket. They may need to revisit some of the PATH extenders we discussed earlier this week to maximize gains. When the numbers are in your favor, Uncle Sam will come knocking. When you hit the lottery, expect him to rush you.

That’s why I’m rooting for them more than the Broncos or the Panthers.  Frankly, we just watch for the commercials.

If anyone from Death Wish happens to read this, please know that my afternoon coffee habit has probably kept you and the coffee industry afloat for years. In fact, my birthday is a national holiday in Colombia.  I am on Brazil’s 20 real note.  It’s quite literally in my blood. My blood type?  Arabica.

It’ll be interesting to watch the company’s development from this point forward.

Share your comments/thoughts on the 30-second spot, underdog businesses, or your favorite cupajoe.




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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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