What were you doing before jumping into web3 IP building with Red Bean Coffee?
I’ve been running my company JD Communications LLC since 2007. We are a low voltage communications contractor, we install the fiber optics, coax, copper infrastructure in apartments and commercial buildings (data, voice, and video).
We acquired our largest contract in 2013 with Cox Communications. I was the youngest and first African American/Japanese business owner to have a contract with Cox. I’m still their most tenured contractor in Virginia and maybe the whole East Coast. We also bid on Federal and State jobs from time-to-time as well.
When the pandemic hit we couldn’t do any work because of the lockdown, so I put some money into sports cards and Pokemon, AMC and GME stocks, and NBA topshot. This all led me to PFPs and ETH NFTs and discovering Azuki. The rest is history
How has the reception for RBC been outside of the web3 community?
I have to say it has been great. Most people love the packaging, which I have to give credit to hejz.eth for. His graphics are insane. I’m also grateful for the Azuki team for giving us something so kawaii to work with (Beanz). My little girls love it and try to draw the coffee packaging for fun. I also have someone that purchases on the regular because they love the coffee and have no idea about NFTs and could care less about the art.
Even my homey who owns a skate shop loves it. I even asked him about collaborating in the future and he was like “hell yeah!” He was stoked.
Have you had any customer stories or experience that surprised you?
I think the whole experience has been surprising, every compliment and order or just support from web 3 community really means a lot. All critiques I consider and try to implement if they are cost effective and make sense for the brand. Ultimately, we are trying to build a superior quality end product that the end user loves so their opinions are very important and instrumental in growth and building the brand.
Red Bean Coffee was the first community IP featured on the Azuki billboard in Hilumia, how did it feel when that world was first released and you saw your brand represented?
That was a truly amazing experience! I was getting groceries, listening to the Skaters of Web3 Spaces when Z (Zagabond) said “Welcome to Hilumia.” I checked the Azuki site and saw Red Bean Coffee. I was like, what the hell did I click?! So, I decided I was going to check this when I got home and it was still there on the billboard. I showed my wifey and she screamed! I showed my kids and they wanted to play it like a game. They loved it which made me even happier. I’m so grateful and appreciative to the team and have so much love for them.
You’ve already done an iteration on packaging design from what you first launched with to the beautiful coffee bags we see today. Are there other designs you’re working on? Are there other products you are looking at as you build up your brand?
We’ll definitely have different art and colorways coming by the 2nd quarter, and different coffee formats as well. Since you are a homey, I’ll drop some alpha, we are working on a canned iced coffee.
With coffee and tech I think the possibilities are endless for digital and IRL products. For now I think we are sticking to coffee and its ecosystem.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far with RBC?
I'm open to other products, but some of these are challenging. We are actually scrapping a project because of so much red tape and liability.
For the record, Elder Millennial believes these Bobu juice concepts are real dope
You launched an ERC-721 token for early supporters of RBC. Does the token carry utility? What can holders expect to use it for?
Hopefully this token can establish Red Bean Coffee as more of a web3 company, and at the same time reward and act as a placeholder for early supporters. With the ERC-721 token we can use these for token gating discounts, potentially token-gated rewards at Azuki events, whitelists for collabs or upcoming mints for Red Bean Coffee. RBC token holders can currently use the token for discounts on our coffee, with other utilities coming soon.
Are there any people or brands outside of the Azuki ecosystem that you look to for inspiration as you’re building RBC?
Bored and Hungry really impressed me and showed me what could be done with IP within web3. Much respect to Andy (Nguyen) and his team. The multiple Ape coffee brands that are out there - much love and respect! I researched and trolled these brands to see how they operate. Everybody has their niche, but I feel the strong IP and community behind Azuki and us allow us to compete and become recognized in the space. Also, Azuki has an incubator group of Garden Caretakers that Dem (Azuki’s Product Manager and Head of Community) leads. They really take the time and help any way they can to help boost your brand, this has been a major help as well!
What’s one piece of advice you would give to people looking to build with their Azuki or Beanz IP?
Do it! If it’s something you are passionate about, create a goal of what you want to do, then research the steps necessary to reach that goal. Create a budget and a reasonable timeline and stick to it. Continuously chip away at it and eventually you will see some results. Reach out to others that may be able to help you.
Where can people go to learn more about what you are up to?