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Grand Rapids startup offers unique investment opportunity

Startup coffee company Roast Umbers is raising capital through crowdfunding to support their growing business

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - 'Invest today for a better tomorrow' is the advice people often hear when it comes to opportunities to grow their money. And in Grand Rapids, there's a unique investment opportunity with startup coffee company Roast Umber to not only support a local business but also potentially make a return on the investment.

Brad Gakenheimer is the CEO and co-founder of Roast Umbers, and says they chose the crowdfunding angle for investors, because it could ultimately benefit everyone.

“There were two different angles we could take in terms of funding, and we’re getting to the point where we cant bootstrap anymore because its going to become more difficult," says Gakenheimer. "So we could take the institutional route, the capital and angel investors, banking route, or we can take the investment crowdfunding route And as an investor in a company when you can see it, feel it and see it live at a café or restaurant and online and you can also tell your friends about it, you have that proud kind of a feeling.”

Crowdfunding is a type of crowdsourcing and it has gained popularity in recent years, like Kickstarter and Go Fund Me. To invest in Roast Umber, investors create an account on revenue share platform MainVest, which advertises as investing in Main Street, not Wall Street. Search for Roast Umbers and follow the prompts to make an investment. 

“Hit the number you want to invest whether its $100, $200,  $1000 plus, and then you do have a period of time until we raise the final amount that you can withdraw it back if you change your mind," explains Gakenheimer. "We have to give our quarterly reports that we also share with our investment community, or our crowd. And in terms of the actual return amount we have that set for July of 2024. Our goal is to certainly return it before that but July 2024 is our time frame that we will return the full amount.”

As with any investment, startup investing does carry some risk. Financial expert Dan Haines of SummitView Advisors says as long as investors do their due diligence on both the company they are investing in and the platform they are investing through, investors should feel confident in taking the risk. 

“The reason you might want to do crowd funding is because you’re passionate about the business or about local businesses and entrepreneurs," says Haines. "From an investment perspective, I would say you just need to know what you’re investing in. This is a small business its probably going to be a little riskier than your typical investment in stock or something like amazon so I would make sure I was comfortable that I might not get a return on this investment.”

"We want to really utilize ourselves as a model for how investment crowdfunding can work," says Gakenheimer. "We want to say things like hey, we built this million dollar brand off of $250,000 of investment crowdfunding, and then going back to our initial crowd and saying, 'hey you helped us do that and thank you!”

Right now, Roast Umbers does not have a brick and mortar location as they are solely eCommerce and wholesale focused but Schuil Coffee in Grand Rapids where they do all coffee production, and do all nitro cold brew canning at American Brewers in Kalamazoo, MI. 

Their first run of nitro cold brew cans sold out at Lyon Street Cafe, and right now Roast Umbers can be purchased online or in bulk via their Grand Rapids distributor at hello@roastumber.com. Nitro cold brew and cocoa powder can be purchased locally at Lantern Coffee Bar in downtown Grand Rapids and the nitro cold brew is also carried locally at Heights Cream in Alger Heights, The Friesian, and Southeast Market carries nitro cans and whole bean and ground coffee. Roast Umber coffee will soon to be available at Greyline Brewing.

There is currently a waiting list online for the nitro cold brew in a can which will be back in stock this month.

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