Launching a new business during a global pandemic is a brave feat. Planning, researching, developing products, branding and crowdfunding, as well as studying for a MBA and working full-time makes this an even more impressive achievement.
The lightbulb moment
The story behind RISE Coffee Box is one born out of opportunity and a passion to support small business owners. Missing her morning flat whites on the way to work, Alice Wainwright (Weekend MBA 2019) and her Co-Founder Ben went on the hunt for good coffee to drink at home. Finding the supermarket shelves less than inspiring, she took to the internet to find a coffee subscription. There were plenty out there, but none that offered a variety and mix that inspired her. Here was Alice’s lightbulb moment; a chance to bring delicious and exciting varieties of coffee to the homes of coffee lovers, while supporting small independent coffee makers and ethically-minded startups.
Alice predicted that post-lockdown consumer purchasing behaviour would be changed, possibly forever, and therefore knew it was important to be ahead of the curve and act fast. Putting her PR skills and business acumen from her MBA to work, she set about creating RISE.
RISE and shine
The RISE coffee boxes showcase handpicked, sustainable and premium coffee brands, and include the unique story behind each coffee directly from the roaster, from bean to bag. The desire to share the journey with others and tell their story is just one of the ways in which RISE is unique. It isn’t just about coffee, but how they can offer something sustainable that isn’t solely focused on achieving a big a margin. A huge part of the ethos and mission of RISE is to work with partner brands (coffee roasters, chocolatiers, gift companies, alcoholic beverages etc.) who have a social conscience behind every action they take – from supporting fair farmer’s wages to being plastic free. By working closely with these partners, Alice is able to continuously make improvements to ensure RISE is operating as sustainably as possible.
A wonderful example of this mind-set was the two of the first partnerships that Alice and her Co-Founder established. One was with Redemption Roasters, the world’s first 'behind bars' coffee house, who operate out of HMP The Mount. The company are on a social impact mission to train offenders in coffee industry skills with the aim of reducing reoffending in the UK. And then there is Tony’s Chocolonely, whose sole aim is to make chocolate 100% slave free in West Africa, due to the unequally divided cocoa chain. By giving an added voice and platform to these exceptional startups, RISE is helping to raise the profile of an ethically-sourced and responsible food chain. Alice is determined to succeed and determined to bring others along with her on this incredible journey.
Alice’s vision for the business is to grow RISE’s coffee subscription box by launching her own coffee company later this year, with the aim of shaking up the brown and gold shelves of supermarket coffee. She has already sustainably sourced her coffee beans and equipment, and is now borrowing from other categories, such as craft beer and fashion, to create a brand that stands out. Alice is currently working on multiple gift box creations for RISE coffee subscription box, using themes such as “positivity” and “travel” as inspiration. Her aim is for RISE to take over Nescafe in offices, taking employees on a journey of coffee discovery.
Whilst growing RISE Alice plans to continue support a number of other small brands disrupting their industries. For example, she is consulting with a vegan chocolate company on their marketing and sales and is helping a healthcare start-up that has developed biodegradable sanitary towels with their marketing and gathering feedback from their soft launch.
Alice’s dream is to own a number of companies across sectors aligned to her passions, whilst consulting small businesses and charities day-to-day on disruptive marketing and innovation. She also wants to create a community space that houses a number of creative events, from half-day idea sessions to practical workshops for SMEs.
On top of all these entrepreneurial achievements Alice is a shining star in the volunteer sector as well as academically. She received the only Imperial College Business School Dean’s scholarship for impactful leadership. She is passionate about supporting charities and volunteers for clients assisting with marketing and proposition development and strategy. She also helps coach early stage startups and is a Prince’s Trust Mentor, coaching young adults to grow confidence in pitching ideas. She does all this while continuing to work full time at a digital agency as a Senior Account Director.
Alice is a driven, determined entrepreneur who we're sure is destined to RISE to the top.