About this project
I'd like to personally thank you for your consideration in helping us get Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha and Sparkling Teas on store shelves. It's been an incredible journey and we look forward to continued growth. - Jamba Dunn
What is Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha?
Several years ago, Jamba Dunn had a revelation: to build one of the few kombucha taprooms in existence and redefine the limits of fermented tea.
Jamba had been brewing kombucha for friends and family, with inspiration from his toddler daughter (the rowdy mermaid herself). In fall 2013, Jamba met Danielle Martin, the brewer responsible for starting kombucha brewing operations for Brew Dr. Kombucha in Portland. The two began relearning whay they thought they knew of brewing, flavoring and microbiology.
The two opened the taproom in April 2014, acquired some key volunteers, and started serving hand-crafted, organic, and innovative kombucha made from ingredients deliberately selected for their taste and health benefits.
We usually have about 7 flavors of kombucha on tap - give or take a seasonal or two which change weekly - and two sparkling, unfermented teas. Since kombucha is a living, changing beverage we are constantly adapting our recipes, keeping in mind seasonal and organic availability. Another great reason for having our taproom is that everyone who comes in can try our kombuchas in flights and refill a growler with their favorite for the day.
What we can't source locally, we make sure we know exactly where it comes from. We are one of the only kombucha companies that has met the farmers in China that grow our organic teas.
Danielle runs our brewing operation, and can be found during the day in the back of the taproom mixing, juicing, flavoring and making science happen!
We have been courted by some of the best restaurants in our area, recently went on tap at Twitter and have been selling out every weekend at the Boulder Farmers Market. The people of Boulder love our kombucha, and we want to be able to offer more.
We've got several innovations in the mix (popsicles, mixed drinks, community events at the taproom) but we need to get a leg-up on the demand. As an almost entirely volunteer-run company, we can't keep up as well as we'd like to.
What We Need:
In order to get beyond our threshold where we can package as much as we produce, we need several pieces of equipment to make production manageable. With our existing bottling line, it would take ~130 hours of manual labor EACH WEEK to bottle one flavor. Then there's labeling, boxing and moving into cold storage.
With even a modest improvement we could achieve the same work in 15-20 hours. Imagine what we could accomplish with all that extra time! So here's what we need:
Custom Rowdy Mermaid Bottles: $7,000
Our custom 330ml bottles took 15 months of designing and engineering. They feature a clear glass construction with a screw cap that can be taken off and put back on again to preserve freshness. Because the bottles can be resealed, they are more likely to be reused by customers. However, the main benefit of the custom bottles is that they are pad printed, which means no labels and no paper waste. Not needing to apply labels also means a tremendous reduction in the time it takes to fully prepare a bottle of kombucha for sale.
Custom Capping Machine: $2,000
Our current capper will not function with the new bottles, which require an ROPP capper. We currently cap every bottle by hand, which not only takes a toll on the body, but is very inefficient. We find one leaking bottle in every 80. That's around one in every six cases of kombucha. When a bottle leaks it typically ruins an entire box, which is then returned, unpacked and repacked. A new case can only be issued to the store or cafe after all the necessary paperwork is completed.
The ROPP caps were designed not to leak, and they are fitted with tamper proof seals to ensure freshness and safety. We owe it to our customers to make sure our product is the best it can be.
Electrical Breaker: $300
Because the ROPP capper runs on 220v of electricity, we require the electrical box in our brewery to be fitted with a new breaker and we need a new 220v outlet installed in the bottling area.
Bottle Washer: $4,000
We currently clean and sanitize bottles by hand, funneling sanitizing fluid into each individual bottle. This is an extremely time-consuming process. The new bottle-washing machine would be made for our specific operation, since a standard bottle washer for industrial use can cost as much as some homes.
These investments enable us to produce and bottle more kombucha and hopefully meet the ever-growing demand. Increasing production and getting our bottles on more shelves will allow us to keep our taproom open instead of converting the space into a production-only facility. We have a beautiful taproom that we have spent two years designing and building, and we want to keep it open for the community.
WHAT YOU'LL GET -- REWARDS
We at Rowdy Mermaid are offering a mix of rewards, ranging from a $1 "virtual high-five" and updates on the project, to growlers of kombucha, limited-edition t-shirts and handcrafted mugs, kombucha brewing classes and parties, tickets to its campaign finale event, and bags made out of tried kombucha SCOBY!
The campaign finale event will be a day-long celebration at the taproom. It will include yoga during the day and live music, a food truck, special kombucha flavors, catered food for VIP ticket-holders, and a rowdy countdown in the evening.
Our taproom is not just a place to enjoy a cold glass of kombucha in a pleasant environment. It's a place that promotes human interaction and improvement. Your support will keep this taproom afloat and thriving.
We are committed to becoming a self-supporting company and to avoiding the long-term pitfalls of securing outside investment. We want to remain local and small and a true reflection of our immediate community. And we want to turn this idea into a success story.
From one Rowdy Mermaid to another, thank you for your support.
Jamba Dunn and The Rowdy Mermaid Crew
Now. Let’s. Get. Rowdy….Mermaid-style.
SCOBY Handbag (picture courtesy of the Biocouture blog):
Here's an infographic to quickly view our rewards.
Risks and challenges
We expect several challenges to arise from this project:
* Bottle delivery can sometimes cost as much as the bottles themselves. We have estimates and have worked extensively to find reliable shipping companies, but transit charges are in continual flux. The risk here is in using all the funds to purchase the bottles and not having enough for the other equipment which would necessitate other fundraising options.
* We will be required to change our current boxes and inserts to fit the new bottle dimensions. We might be required to forego one of the items on our list, or at least find a cheaper option, so that we can purchase boxes.
* Bottles and closures is only part of the puzzle. The real piece of machinery needed is an automatic bottling line. Such a device will cost us upwards of $100k. Until that time, new bottles and a capper will work as long as we have several employees who can work in shifts. We might be required to continue washing and sanitizing by hand so that we can afford the staff who will be packaging the bottles.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage made from a combination of yeast and bacteria. The final product contains live probiotics and a yeast strain which acts as a valuable aid to digestion.
Kombucha has existed for over 2,000 years, bit it was relatively unknown in Europe until the early 1900s when Russian research scientists began seeking a cure for cancer. Germany continued the research only to be disrupted in their efforts by the War. It wasn't until the 1980s, when it was reported that American president Ronald Reagan had been drinking kombucha after his diagnosis of cancer, that the beverage was introduced to the United States.
Many people drink kombucha for its living microorganisms and antioxidants, which are thought to support balanced health and energy by strengthening immunity, cleansing organs and correcting body pH levels. We drink it because it is delicious.
Unfortunately, no (but read on for a great alternative!).
Since the kit includes a living organism, we won't be able to get our kit through customs, plus the shipping cost would be too high.
There are a number of different kombucha brewers across the globe, and we're sure that you would be able to acquire a culture to start your own home brewing. You can create a culture by buying a bottle and letting it ferment to create a SCOBY.
A good alternative to our brewing kit would be to select our homebrewing video instruction reward. We would send you the video online, and let you know everything you need to get started, including how to grow a SCOBY from a bottle of kombucha.
At this point we are unable to ship our kombucha. We haven't figured out a good way to ship our beverages without a great expense, since it requires being kept cold to prevent further fermentation and possible explosion (!). If you live in the area, we would ask that you pick up kombucha from our taproom, or from us at the farmers market in Boulder.
This is why we created our homebrew kit option, to allow folks that can't pick up kombucha in Boulder to create their own, with instruction from us. We realize that it is not the same, but we wanted to find a way for people who are interested in us to be involved in some way.
If you aren't interested in brewing your own, we have some sweet gear that we are offering as another way to take us home!
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- (43 days)