Bizzy Coffee co-founders Alex French (right) and Andrew Healy (left) have been friends since age 12, when the two met in middle school. They became even better friends when they later went to the same high school, and they kept that friendship through college even though they went to different universities. Alex studied Business at the University of St. Thomas, while Andrew pursued studies as Mechanical Engineer at the University of Minnesota.
It was in college that both Alex and Andrew became passionate about fitness. This passion for fitness is something that would later play a role in their founding of Bizzy Coffee.
The Corporate World
After university, Alex ended up working for General Mills as a marketing associate, while Andrew worked as an engineer for St. Jude Medical, Inc. It was a great experience for both working in these companies but at the same time, it was this stint in the corporate world that they both experienced the typical quarter life crisis. After some time, work became unfulfilling and became the proverbial rat race. Alex and Andrew discovered that they wanted more out of life. They wanted something they could be passionate about.
Lifty: Changing The Way You Ride the Lift
Aside from fitness, Alex and Andrew were passionate about snowboarding. Out of this passion was born their first business venture together: Lifty.
Lifty is a snowboarding accessory business that they launched via a crowd funding campaign in 2012. It was their first taste of entrepreneurship and, while it was challenging, it was here were they learned a lot about building a brand, selling into retail, managing cash flow, and the importance of recurring revenue. These insights were important and would be needed in their next business venture.
Group Fitness: Exchanging Dollars for Hours
In 2013, the duo put together a group fitness company. This is completely in their wheelhouse being that this has been their passion since college. In this business, they helped people achieve their fitness goals; people went from never having ran before to completing a 10-mile obstacle race; people who couldn’t keep off their weight were losing 20 lbs because of the work that Alex and Andrew did with them.
It was a very rewarding endeavor, to see people transformed with their help, and to gain many friends out of their clients. But it was from this experience that Alex and Andrew realized the importance of scalability. This was a business that while psychologically rewarding, it was not scalable — they were trading dollars for hours.
Taking on The World’s Toughest Mudder
While doing the group fitness company, Alex and Andrew trained for and competed in the World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) in 2013. It was a very popular obstacle course race - a craze that has taken the world by storm - and this particular event was a 24-hour endurance race. Competing in this race was a pivotal moment for the founders.
Before the yea of the race, they had not run more than 6 miles at a time, but they ended up placing 6th in the world in their first foray into the world of obstacle course racing. They joined the 2014 race more confidently and with the sponsorship of popular cereal brand Wheaties, triumphantly placing 4th in the team category.
Discovering Cold Brew Coffee
While training for the World’s Toughest Mudder, Alex and Andrew still had their corporate jobs as well as their group fitness side business. One can just imagine the challenge juggling all 3, and it was during this time that they wondered if there was something that could provide them the stamina and the energy to manage all 3. There were a lot of drinks out there that provided energy, sure, but Alex and Andrew wanted a healthy, convenient source of energy. It was during this time that Alex and Andrew discovered cold brew coffee.
Bizzy Coffee is Born
There were already cold brew coffee products in the market even then, but they were by no means convenient, that’s why Alex and Andrew began experimenting and brewing their own cold brew coffee.
In May 2015, Bizzy Coffee was born. It would not officially launch until March of 2016.
In the summer of 2015, Bizzy Coffee became a semi-finalist in The Minnesota Cup (MN Cup) - a competition for emerging companies and entrepreneurs in Minnesota. In September of the same year, Bizzy Coffee was selected in FOOD-X, one of the top food accelerator programs in the world.
This was a crucial moment for the company and for founders Alex and Andrew. They knew this was a great opportunity to learn, incubate the business in an accelerator program, have the benefits of experienced mentors, and to have a chance at clinching venture funding. The catch? Alex and Andrew had to quit their jobs in order to participate in the program as it was based in New York. In October 2015, Alex and Andrew said goodbye to corporate life and ventured to New York.
Sleepless in New York
Alex and Andrew moved to New York for the 3-month accelerator program of FOOD-X. It was not at all a walk in the park. Unbeknownst to many in the program, Alex and Andrew slept on the floor of the FOOD-X office for the duration of the program. Every night after everyone left the office, they would blow up their air mattresses to sleep, then wake up the next day before anyone came into the office to roll up the mattresses. Where did they shower you ask? They walked to a nearby gym to work out and shower before returning to the office to work on their precious startup.
The Bestselling Cold Brew Coffee on Amazon
After officially launching Bizzy Coffee, it went on to become today the #1 selling cold brew coffee on Amazon. Knowing full well the importance of mentors and investors early on in the life of a startup, Alex and Andrew thought of "paying it forward" by launching The Bizzy Project which aims to support thinkers and doers with big ideas that help make a difference in the world.
It has been quite a journey for these childhood buddies, but they’re only getting started.