Every professional coffee machine’s filter needs to be thoroughly cleaned for every 50 coffee cups it produces. In practice, especially in busy bars, coffee machines are cleaned once a day, since this is a task that can take an employee three to five minutes at the time. This habit, however, is a dangerous one since it leads to the water inside the machine becoming too hot. That is why a start-up developed an automatic cleaner for coffee filters called Cafélier. It consists of a patented brush, which can spin at a very high speed and is able to clean the whole filter in roughly 30 seconds. This way it can automatically clean the coffee machine after every ten coffees made, which improves the quality of the coffee itself. Allen Robnik, the founder of the start-up, was a guest on 15th INNOtalks which was organised by ABC Accelerator. The event took place at the Faculty of Management in Koper on Monday, 18th of March.
According to Robnik, their product is designed in such a way that it fits perfectly in every professional coffee machine and is able to clean it thoroughly. This way an employee saves valuable time and avoids cleaning the machine with a wet sponge and a small cleaning brush. Every frequently visited coffee shop produces at least 400 coffees daily and thus need to clean their machines regularly.
Exhausted innkeeper after working hours
“The idea for the product came to me completely by coincidence. I was listing supplies at my previous workplace and it was around 2 am at night. After I was done with all the tasks, I inspected the bar for the last time and I noticed that the coffee machine’s filters weren’t cleaned. Since the task was difficult at that time and place I was wondering why there isn’t a product that could do this for me. I did some research and I couldn’t find any product that would do it or would be similar to my vision”, Robnik said and continued: “For my success it was crucial, that I connected with the right people with the right experience. This way I could confront all the challenges concerning designing the product. The key for my success was also the team that was developing the product. I am very proud to see what we have achieved together in the given time and with limited funds”.
He further explained that their product was only in idea stage when they approached ABC Accelerator. He added that ABC Accelerator gave them the knowledge, connections and mentoring needed for their success. They were a fresh start-up and didn’t know who to approach and how. Their time at ABC was, according to Robnik, a wonderful experience. Even more remarkable for the start-up is the fact, that they did not need any investment for the development of the product. Some investment was made only recently, when they perfected the product.
Lack of funds in the past and looking at the bright future
Currently, Robnik and his team are focusing primarily on Slovenian market. Their long term goal is to cover 8 to 11 percent of the whole Slovenian market. The secondary goal, however, is to expand to other markets – especially Italian one.
“We wish to connect with companies that act as distributors around the world. At the same time, we also wish to connect with producers of coffee machines. Only this way our product can become the obligatory part of every professional machine”.
Answering to the question “what was their biggest challenge”, Robnik said that it was hard to get an investment for further development of the product. “We spent too little time searching for investment, which was our biggest mistake. That is really something that held us back.”
Robnik also advised the audience not to expect that their product will work properly on the first try.
“We needed no less than 11 prototypes in order to develop a product we were satisfied with”, Robnik said and added that in the future they wish that their Slovenian partners will be able to produce the product themselves without the start-up’s help. Only this way the team can concentrate fully on sales.