The nature of the Catalyst programme provides plenty of opportunities to participate in projects that wouldn’t be available on a normal placement year. The range of clients in a multitude of industries allows for such variety that month to month the work required can fluctuate dramatically, as I came to realise in June of 2015.
During my time as a member of the Catalyst team, I worked with IKAWA coffee, inventors of the world’s first digital micro coffee roasters. IKAWA had been preparing for the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for their Home Roaster, allowing customers to roast their coffee beans like a professional from their own home. I was supporting the marketing side of their campaign by helping to create support, spreading word of the Kickstarter, contacting journalists and attending the London Coffee Festival to demo the machine and support the IKAWA stand.
As the Kickstarter gathered momentum, a colleague at IKAWA asked if I would like to assist in a similar capacity to that of the support at the London Coffee Festival. This time, however, it would be at the Nordic World of Coffee Trade Exhibition – in its 2015 home of Gothenburg, Sweden. I had never imagined that my placement year would offer the opportunity to go abroad, especially in such exciting circumstances. The London Coffee Festival I attended at the end of April was dominated by tattoo-boasting, beard grooming, hat wearing coffee cognoscenti’s looking for a handout. In Sweden, however, it was exciting to have the chance to talk to industry experts who were interested in the roaster for their businesses and personal coffee perfection and I jumped at the chance to help Ikawa.
The exhibition itself is one of the more trade orientated world coffee events, with farmers, importers, exporters, movers and shakers all looking for shifts in the industry. Alex, the IKAWA marketing guru that took me under his coffee stained wing, 2 coffee roasters and I made our way to Sweden ready to demonstrate IKAWA’s technical capabilities. We spent 2 days at the festival together, showing those in attendance the roasters, the app, promoting the Kickstarter and networking with those in industry interested in the product.
After 2 days, 3 nights and a flight mix up I was heading back to the UK, whilst Alex stayed for the final day of the festival. Sweden and Gothenburg in particular is impossibly beautiful. I could not believe the cleanliness of the city, how welcoming it was, the quality of life and the eye-watering scenery. Crucially, I had experienced something out of my normal work environment. Catalyst’s involvement allowed me to attend an exhibition where I could network with experts in a field, demonstrating my ability to communicate to those in attendance and build confidence in a product that both we and its viewers believed in. I saw first-hand the benefits for a firm of attending such shows, an opportunity to talk directly with potential consumers or partners about your proposition, developing a reputation amongst an industry and creating, for want of a better term, a buzz, coffee-pun not intended. We promoted our Kickstarter campaign and alongside the brilliant work done by the IKAWA team managed to successfully have the campaign funded, which is a brilliant achievement.
If coffee is your cup of tea, check out IKAWA’s website here - http://www.ikawacoffee.com/