Case Study: How MUD\WTR changed their relationship with equity fundraising
How the coffee-alternative startup used their recurring revenue to grow—and got back to focusing on the business.
By Pipe May 26, 2022
Paul DeJoe was a self-described “coffee addict” who loves the ritual and culture around coffee. Today, he’s COO and co-founder of MUD\WTR—a coffee alternative brand brewing up a nice cuppa without the caffeinated jitters.
Through MUD\WTR, he’s working to share an alternative that gives people a lift while respecting—maybe even improving—their mental health.
The company’s mission has resonated: Today, MUD\WTR has 130,000+ monthly subscribers.
After co-founding the company in 2018, Paul enjoyed both the opportunities and challenges of running a burgeoning business alongside a small but nimble team. And he quickly found himself managing explosive growth and a desire to ensure the company stayed focused. “Our first year, we grew over 400%, and our second year, 300%,” he says.
When it came to funding that growth, “We didn’t discriminate on how we were going to get money—we just really needed it quickly.”
The challenge: Streamlining growth while avoiding obstacles
“When you have [working capital], the next step is you try to pour gasoline on it to go faster,” says Paul. MUD\WTR’s ambitions to grow could have been bogged down by the familiar hassles—and time-sucks—brought on by fundraising. Securing funding is often necessary and a worthwhile effort—but chasing a funding round can be stressful, sap resources, and can pull founders away from the mission that motivated them to start the business in the first place.
“We have the craziest testimonials from customers that they’re dreaming again, that they’re able to sleep, that they’re not anxious,” Paul says. “That’s why we’re excited to do what we do, and why we want to keep finding more [customers].”
But he underscores a challenge many D2C founders know all too well: “Sometimes when your company’s doing really well, cash in the bank is going down because you have to keep buying inventory for the next set of customers.”
The solution: Flexible access to non-restrictive financing
Paul says he was sold on Pipe within “20 minutes.” Because unlike traditional financing, Pipe didn’t come with the often tricky fine print, restrictions, or complications.
“When you’re looking for working capital, you want to negotiate warrants down, you’re trying to negotiate fees down, and you’re trying to negotiate payment plans or the speed at which you pay back,” Paul says. Pipe made it simple.
Freed from the pitching, guesswork, and negotiations of fundraising, MUD\WTR didn’t have to prove its worthiness to an outside party. Instead, they got back to building their business. “We don’t need to convince anybody [to give us capital]—we see what’s available [on the Pipe platform] based on how well we’re doing as a company.”
The results: From zero to 1.2 million
After educating himself on Pipe, Paul secured MUD\WTR $18,000 just to test the waters—and later $1.2 million. With Pipe, the company was able to instantly get access to cash flow, and stop worrying about what’s in the bank.
“This is going to fundamentally change how we raise money and how we scale,” Paul says. “The only thing I don’t like about Pipe is that I didn’t start it.”
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