It all started with a mule. And some coffee.
Now, a Boise-based company will see an influx of cash as it works to grow its unique business model.
Iron Mule Inc. landed a $500,000 seed investment aimed at growing a new model the company hopes will help small farmers get access to grocery store shelves.
Alturas Capital, Vynyl, and others contributed to the seed round for Iron Mule, according to Built In Idaho.
Iron Mule came together in 2018, when Café Mulé and Ironside Roasting Co. merged. You might remember Café Mulé from its trailside coffee service in the Boise foothills back in 2016.
‘Direct’ to you
The money will go to build up Iron Mule’s “Direct Access” brand, which helps cut out some of the middle men that stand between coffee growers and consumers.
Iron Mule co-founders Colin Seeley and Matt Bishop explained the concept during a 2020 presentation at the Capital Connecting event.
“We want to work for the farmers as a vertically integrated partner. It is a meta brand. It’s essentially a placeholder in the grocery store shelf,” Seeley said of the concept. “That allows us to rotate in our partner coffees.”
“We are acting as a service provider,” Bishop said. “We are simply being hired by the farmer to provide all those services to the farmer.”
With the Direct Access brand, consumers buy their coffee direct from coffee growers, with Iron Mule acting as a service hired to procure, roast, package, and ship the beans to the grocery store shelf. Usually, that would involve a slew of individual parties – each taking a slice of the profit along the way.
Iron Mule says the concept helps boost profitability for farmers with small acreages in regions across South America. With the money, Iron Mule hopes to take the Direct Access brand to national grocery retailers. It’s already offering several varieties in an online shop.