Imagine stirring your hot, morning coffee with a bamboo stick coated in crystallized sugar to start off your day. This is exactly what a local company named Suga Stix is doing with the help of their Kickstarter campaign, which launched this week.
Led by co-owner and chief financial officer of the company, Guntis Dredzels, Suga Stix is aiming to revolutionize the way you sweeten your coffee. One morning, two summers ago, Dredzels came across the company concept when he accidentally made a mess in a diner.
“We started drinking this coffee and it was awful,” Dredzels said. “So, we started pouring sugar packets and stirring it around with a spoon, and realized we made a huge mess and thought ‘there’s got to be an easier way.’”
Two items make up the company product: eco-friendly bamboo and locally grown, USDA-approved cane sugar. This way, users can stir their coffee or tea with the bamboo stick while the sugar simply dissolves into the drink.
Dredzels said one competitor already exists for Suga Stix, called Swizzle Sticks, but he said he is not worried.
“Our game plan is to dominate our backyard,” Dredzels said. Aside from controlling the amount of cane sugar on each stick, Suga Stix also has engraved phrases to personalize their product.
“Who wants to be motivated by boring sticks?” Dredzels said. “So, we turned something boring into something extraordinary.”
His hope is to motivate customers with the phrases, which range from inspirational to language and even math editions. His second hope is to influence clients to remember company events or branding.
“(We can) give them to your clients as a way to thank them for doing business,” Dredzels said.
Dredzels’s friend sitting beside him in the diner was Nick Leotard, now co-owner and CEO of Suga Stix, who manages the company in Michigan.
“With Suga Stix, we also want to put a strong emphasis on business promoting and special events like weddings,” Leotard said. “With our laser engraving, the versatility of customizing is extremely vast. As our business grows, so will the possibilities. We have some new flavors in progress and many ideas to keep this company fun and creative. For now, we’re keeping it simple with just the best tasting raw, organic sugar you can buy.” Leotard said. He is referring to the bleach, aspartame and saccharin that many sugar products contain.
Their hope is to distribute their product into local coffee shops and grocery stores like Whole Foods. When asked, Dredzels said he would love to see his product on campus.
“I love Colorado State and I am a proud Ram,” Dredzels said. While he is currently finishing his associate’s degree at Front Range Community College, he started his freshman year at CSU and hopes to return in the near future.
“When it comes to my first freshman year of college, I came out here and it inspired us.” Dredzels said.
Justine Bertler, Dredzels’s girlfriend and a CSU senior said, “I am really proud of him for all the work he has been doing to get this company going, while also going to school and working full time. He really believes in his product which I believe will help drive the product to succeed.”
Two large goals of the Kickstarter project are to fund manufacturing, including the bamboo and lazer machines, and promotional strategies for the company as well. Currently, the campaign has 24 backers and $1,753 pledged, with 36 days to go. Their goal is to reach $20,000.
Their current pricing strategy is to sell the product at $6.99 for 20 sticks, something Dredzels cannot wait to see.
“Right now we are doing it for free,” Dredzels said. “Our labor is not included in this. We just want to get our product out there, so people can see it, believe in it, and use it.”
CTV reporter Kay Bennett can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @kbennettCTV.