Today we meet Connor Riley and Samantha Meis co-founders of Misto Box, a coffee subscription that helps you discover great artisan coffee roasters around the country. Samantha and Connor started their business after launching their KickStarter campaign in 2012. They then went on to become contestants on ABC’s Shark Tank show (season 4) where they received offers from both Kevin O’ Leary and Mark Cuban.
In the end, they decided to take Mr. Cuban’s offer, even when he asked for more equity. I reached out to Connor & Samantha and they’ve agreed to tell us about their business and also share what the Shark Tank experience was really like.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Misto Box all about?
Connor: MistoBox is changing the way people experience coffee by offering a unique way to sample, learn about and purchase the world’s best coffee. Every 2 weeks we curate and select 4 legendary coffees from a group of over 50, package them up like a present and send them straight to your door. Along with the coffees you receive a Coffee and Roaster Guide outlining the coffees we send you and other awesome coffee related information. Simply put we are making artisan coffee accessible, informative and fun. 86% of Americans over the age of 18 consume coffee on a daily basis, yet a majority are misinformed and drinking coffee that is of similar quality to bagged wine. We are here to bridge this gap by informing consumers about quality coffee, make it approachable, convenient and awesome.
Q: Please tell a little about your background and how you came up with the Idea?
Connor: MistoBox began as a school project at the University of Arizona in the Entrepreneurship program. Samantha was studying Management Information Systems and I was studying Finance, when we decided to partner together for the program. We identified the subscription business model as one that was attractive to us, and combined that with our passion for specialty coffee. This was the birth of MistoBox. Over the course of our senior year, we developed the business plan and launched our website on graduation weekend after a successful kickstarter campaign. It has been an amazing experience since, and we couldn’t be happier with where things are at.
Q: Can you tell us about the application process, what was it like when you applied for the show?
Connor: The application process was stressful but fun. There were multiple rounds, and we kept thinking we had been cut until a surprise call would come in just days after.
Q: Why did you decide to go on ABC’s Shark Tank, and how has it change your life and business?
Samantha: We decided to go on the show for the exposure, experience, and access to capital. It has been our favorite show for quite a while, so it was really a dream come true. Business has been great since and a lot of awesome opportunities have come our way as a result.
Q: From the show you guys seemed very determine to partner up with Mark Cuban – why did you decide give up more equity to go with Mark instead of taking Kevin’s offer?
Samantha: We did have our sights set on Mark heading in to the tank. To us it wasn’t about the equity, it was about the experience and opportunity. We felt Marc had the most industry experience and would understand our model and vision the best.
Q: Looking back if you could do one thing differently on the show what would it be?
Samantha: Looking back I don’t have any regrets or things I would do differently. It was a great experience and I felt we were prepared and the outcome was exactly what we wanted.
Q: What are some of the projects you are working on now, and what can we expect from Misto Box in the next 5 to 10 years?
Samantha: Fresh off the Shark Tank appearance and our first birthday we expanded our subscription offerings and frequency. We now have 2 different size subscriptions, and boxes that go out every 2 weeks rather than every 4. Some exciting things we are currently working on is building an education platform for our website and developing a palate recommendation system. This will allow us to customize people subscriptions and provide personal recommendations.
Q: Let’s Say I was pitching to the Sharks tomorrow, what advice would you give me?
Connor: Know your numbers. That is the most important. Sam and I watched every episode of Shark Tank, and put every question ever asked into a spreadsheet, along with the answers to those questions. Then we assigned certain questions to each other, so when those questions were asked we knew exactly who was supposed to answer them.
Q: What’s your definition of success?
Connor: My definition of success is happiness. If you’re happy you’re successful.
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
Connor: “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”