Urban Bee Company: CSA Case Study

Bob Redmond, founder of Urban Bee Company, has spent $540 on advertising. In 7 years.

Urban Bee Company extracts honey from hives in private and community gardens throughout Seattle, and in the process supports sustainable food production in our region. When Bob launched Urban Bee’s honey CSA five years ago, his goal was to increase cash flow and galvanize a customer base. And he has done just that. To join the CSA, members buy half- or one-year’s worth of honey in advance. This advance payment allows Bob to more easily budget Urban Bee’s future activities, and direct sales means Urban Bee keeps more of the profit. And bee-cycle delivery minimizes transportation costs!

Although the CSA only brings in a small fraction of the company’s income, the customer base acquired through this direct channel is priceless. He has developed a core constituency of customers who consume honey year-round, and with whom he has created close relationships. As the numbers tell, this strategy has saved more marketing dollars than Bob can even imagine. He happily repays his customers’ loyalty by ensuring they are the first to get honey, which is always in short supply.

This approach has been perfect for Bob, who describes himself as risk averse and willing to grow slowly. While he has also used reward-based crowdfunding platforms to raise money, he has not accepted any investment capital to date. With this measured approach, he has gotten “the operational things down” and feels he is now “ripe to grow.”