Apr 23, 2024

Joi: From Café Beginnings to Home Essentials and Profitability

Written By

Onramp Funds

Joi: From Café Beginnings to Home Essentials and Profitability

Since working with Onramp

Founded in 2016, Joi, initially named Not a Milk Company, embarked on a mission to revolutionize the food service industry by focusing on a singular, yet powerful concept: Just One Ingredient (JOI). This journey from a service-only model, catering exclusively to cafes and restaurants, to a thriving direct-to-consumer brand, underscores a tale of adaptability, customer-centricity, and strategic growth.

The Genesis of Joi

Joi’s inception can be traced back to the collective vision of four incredibly intelligent and passionate individuals, each driven by a unique set of concerns. Izzy, driven by a commitment to sustainability, recognized the inefficiency and environmental impact of shipping water across the country in the form of boxed milk. Dave, facing the personal challenge of lactose intolerance, sought an alternative that would allow him to enjoy the taste of dairy without discomfort. Tony, frustrated with the cumbersome process of making plant milk as a vegan, and Hector, Joi’s CEO and a self-proclaimed health nut passionate about food access, completed the founding team. Their combined insights and dedication laid the groundwork for a company that would not only address their individual motivations but also resonate with a broad spectrum of consumers.

Listening to the Market

Joi’s pivot from a B2B model to embracing the direct-to-consumer market was a strategic decision fueled by customer feedback. The transition was marked by a significant rebranding from Not a Milk Company to Joi, a name that encapsulates the essence of the product and the joy it brings to customers’ homes. This shift was not just a change in direction but a testament to Joi’s responsiveness to its customers’ needs and desires. The renaming and repackaging effort reflected a broader vision for a versatile, clean-label food product that would break through the limitations of being perceived solely as an alternative milk brand.

Embracing Growth and Overcoming Challenges

Joi’s journey has been characterized by significant milestones and challenges. With nine loans from Onramp and over 1 million in funding, Joi has not only made intentional decisions to achieve profitability but also embarked on a path of continuous growth and product innovation. The ability to produce new differentiated products and evolve the brand in response to customer needs has been a constant source of excitement for the Joi team. Yet, navigating the macroeconomic landscape, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, posed its share of difficulties. Nonetheless, Joi’s omnichannel approach and the strength of its brand have been instrumental in overcoming these hurdles.

Strategic Funding for Strategic Growth

The decision to seek funding was driven by a desire for strategic growth without compromising the company’s values or operational efficiency. Joi’s choice of revenue-based financing from Onramp, as opposed to traditional bank loans or equity financing, was informed by the flexibility and alignment with their cash flow needs.

Check it out... Just One Ingredient!
“Being able to re-up on our loans at 50% paid down is huge for Joi. This ensures we are able to consistently move things forward rather than sitting dormant. “

This funding strategy has enabled Joi to manage its inventory effectively and pursue growth opportunities without sacrificing the company’s integrity or its commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction.

A Future Built on Relationships and Innovation

“It truly feels like there’s a relationship with Onramp. I often think of 2d and 3d worlds. 2d is what you can see on paper and 3d is a holistic encapsulation of the potential for a brighter future. Throughout our time together, it’s become clear that Onramp is open to Joi’s 3d vision.”

Joi's CEO, Hector, practicing the art of demoing

Looking ahead, Joi remains committed to its mission of delivering joy through its minimal ingredient wonders. The company’s advice to online sellers seeking funding echoes its own journey: understand your cash flow, communicate effectively with suppliers, and choose a funding partner based on the relationship, not just financial terms. Joi’s story is a compelling reminder of the power of innovation, the importance of listening to customers, and the value of sustainable practices in building a successful and resilient business in the eCommerce space.

“Working with Andrew is incredible. We have an account manager who responds in minutes not hours”

Eager to see more? Check out this short film featuring Joi's growth.