Mar 28, 2017 2 Min READ

How The #1 Coffee Company Built an E-Commerce Empire
Chad Rubin

Chad Rubin is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Skubana, a multichannel e-commerce software the enables brands to unlock growth by unifying their back-office operations.

2 Min READ
How The #1 Coffee Company Built an E-Commerce Empire


Coffee and e-commerce is truly a love story for the ages, as shown by our Valentine's Day webinar with Death Wish Coffee + Skubana. This past Valentine’s, I sat down [virtually] with Dustin Alexander and Eric Donovan of Death Wish Coffee to discuss how they regularly double their e-commerce sales in an already saturated market, grew an online following, and the tools they used to make it happen. Here’s the lowdown.

Death Wish Coffee’s origins

Mike Brown, Death Wish founder, started Saratoga Coffee Traders in 2008 and continues to run it today. That’s where he noticed a common question; “What’s your strongest cup of coffee?”

He researched what he knew his customers were asking for, and customer feedback and market knowledge led him to e-commerce.

Takeaway: Pay attention to your customers’ needs and build something that meets them.

In 2011, Mike named his coffee blend Death Wish Coffee to challenge consumers and differentiate the brand. By 2012 they were roasting their own coffee.

In the early days, the Death Wish team attributes a huge spike in their growth to Good Morning America. Once they were featured, their brand took off with blog coverage, television introductions, and word-of-mouth traffic.

In 2016, they beat 15,000 other small businesses and won the “Small Business, Big Game Competition” from Intuit Quickbooks, despite entering a month after the contest started. The contest they won got them a free super bowl commercial, which propelled the brand even further.

Today, Death Wish has 11 products on Amazon, and their order to SKU ratio is amazing. They’re a top 500 Amazon seller and a large Shopify merchant. They started with Facebook Ads and Weebly, and have been working with Shopify for almost 4 years now.

Thanks to their innovative branding, success in competitions, and well-researched product, their daily visits rose to 12,000, were present in 150 stores, and daily sales spiked to 150 orders. They achieved annual sales of more than $10 million, and the brand was off.

How to develop your community

With 40,800 followers on Twitter, 307,169 on Facebook, and 5,900 on Pinterest, it’s safe to say that Death Wish has been able to amass a following.

Death Wish Coffee’s tips on engaging your community:

  • First you have to find them and develop a channel to reach them (ie. MailChimp).
  • Be present at local community events (ie. Comic Con).
  • Reach out mindfully to the local community.
  • If you’re participating in a competition, ask online for your followers’ votes.
  • Develop paraphernalia, Death Wish sold out of their Valentine’s Day mugs before the day was over.
  • Continuously develop new and/or limited edition products in partnerships with other brands.

Growth, diversification, and operations technology stack

“Do something for your business every day. It’s that consistency that really helps you win.” - Mike Brown

In order to thrive in e-commerce and keep your brand and business safe, it’s important to sell in multiple marketplaces; Amazon, Shopify Plus, Walmart, Jet, etc.

They double their sales every year with smart strategy and strategic growth. They’re not a team of 20 working with a third party logistics provider (3PL) to alleviate their warehouse worries.

They use the following tools to diversify across marketplaces while still staying on top of their operations;

  • Shopify Plus
  • Extensiv
  • ViralSweep
  • Intuit Quickbooks
  • Bold

Their thought process behind selecting these tools was to address any problem they came across by finding a tool that would automate it. As you can see, this is where Extensiv comes in as their high-volume operations platform.

Webinar recording and slides



Death Wish uses Extensiv to get orders out the door, ensure they don’t run out of stock, and monitor revenue/expenses. Let’s chat about how Extensiv can help you.

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