Annika Bansal and her roommate Matt Segal are dedicated outdoors people. They enjoy hiking, canoeing, and especially rock climbing. One thing they noticed when out in the wild was how difficult it was to find an instant coffee to start their strenuous day that tasted any good. On an impulse, Bansal quit her safe and secure job in 2016 to find a way to make good instant coffee available for the outdoor and camping community.

Using one-hundred percent Arabica beans, she and Segal eventually discovered an instant blend that traveled well and tasted great. They began selling it at sporting goods stores in Ziploc bags. Then the huge sports retailer REI came calling, wanting the instant coffee to sell in all their stores.

Annika says that she thought their company, Alpine Start, was not yet big enough to undertake such a project. She asked REI if they couldn’t start with a target area with just a few stores, as a test run. REI replied it had to be all of their stores or nothing.

So Bansal started networking with coffee distributors, manufacturers, and packaging experts until she was able to offer REI exactly what they wanted.

Her advice to other entrepreneurs is simple:  When opportunity finally comes, get out and network instead of sitting in front of a computer screen all day.