Four Questions for Founders | Truebird

By New Lab / August 29, 2019

Truebird co-founders (left to right) Darian Ahler, Josh Feuerstein, Michael Knuepfel, and Andy Lynch.

Truebird is a coffee company that develops high-tech commercial brewing machines rooted in end-to-end automation: from coffee ordering and payment, bean management and brewing, to delivery of cup in hand. Through precision automation, their mission is to create more affordable, sustainably-sourced, and delicious cups of coffee.

1. Why did you start Truebird? Do you remember the moment when you first thought of the idea?

The idea actually came from NY-based entrepreneur Kevin Ryan (founder of Business Insider, MongoDB, Gilt Group, Zola, etc). The thought process is a simple one: The morning cup is a sacred ritual, but the experience of getting that first cup can be a total drag. You can be waiting in lines and paying a massive premium, or grabbing something at the bodega that is cheap, quick and disappointing. Either way the experience is wholly unsatisfying. Using the growing integration of technology in the food service industry, there has to be a way to make getting a cup of coffee quick, affordable and delicious. It’s essentially shooting for the holy trifecta of: good, fast and cheap. He brought me in because of my background in coffee and engineering in the food industry. When he explained that idea, my only reply could be: “That sounds crazy. I’m totally in.”

2. How do you see Truebird impacting how we live our lives?

We want to make specialty coffee more accessible to more people and we designed our micro-cafe with that in mind. By keeping a small, compact form factor, we’re able to fit our micro-cafes conveniently in places where a traditional specialty cafe couldn’t otherwise fit. With our savings on rent and labor, we can then keep our prices low so that a wider range of people can enjoy a great cup of coffee.

3. How have New York and New Lab positively impacted the development of your business?

New Lab has been our home from day one. The obvious benefits have been access to the shop and rapid manufacturing tools like the 3DP Lab and laser cutter to help us iterate on designs and improve concepts quickly. Connecting with the greater New Lab community has been the most critical, though. Having this many innovative people and companies all concentrated in one area has been a boon to our technical and business development. There are so many great people here that are happy to help in any way they can and we’re happy to return the favor.

4. What do you see as your responsibility to make technology ethical and accessible to all?

At the heart of our business, we’re a coffee company. Obviously, we’re a technology company as well, but the coffee industry has been a huge driver for ethical sourcing, accessibility and inclusivity. We need to mirror that to make sure when we are designing anything, we are doing so with every human in mind.

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