Why’d you guys name it Croissant?
It happens fairly often — we give someone the elevator pitch. They seem intrigued by the idea. They seem receptive, they nod, and the first question that pops out of their mouth is “Why’d you guys name it Croissant?”
It’s a long story. Croissant starts with a story about a group of friends who love hacking cool things that we wish existed. We attended hackathons together on the regular and were working on a different business idea at the time. When Tech Crunch Disrupt rolled around, we checked obsessively for ticket releases on Eventbrite. We were no strangers to Tech Crunch Disrupt — we had attended together the previous year. It was a favorite because of the conference ticket giveaways and amazing prizes from the sponsor APIs. We went into the hackathon knowing we wanted to work together, but not knowing on what.
We check out the different sponsor APIs when we get into the arena. An hour rolls by and we have a pile of swag but still no idea what to build. We threw some ideas around, but we couldn’t agree on something that we all wanted to put 24 straight hours of work into. Then we thought of some frustrations we experience together. At the time, we were mostly working out of our home apartments. About once a week, we’d spice it up a little and meet at a coffee shop to get work done. Like many of our fellow coffee shop goers, we liked surrounding ourselves with the positive and creative vibes. We liked that it was affordable and casual. We liked getting out of the house but still being productive. We did not, however, like walking around the city looking for a table big enough for the four of us to sit together. We did not enjoy the inconvenient placement of the outlets and the sometimes spotty wifi. We did not enjoy feeling guilty of taking up space and thus feeling obligated to buy more food (this is important. We’ll come back to it later). We all felt these pain points regularly.
So we decided to create an iPhone app that attempts to solve some of the aforementioned problems. We wanted to make an app that allowed someone to pay per hour for a seat at a coffee shop. Our users would be able to see what seats were open and claim that seat.
One of the hackathon sponsors was Gimbal, a beacon company. Perfect. We worked on having our app talk to the beacons to find a user’s location within the cafe. Users would be able to place food and drink orders directly on the app. With the help of Gimbal’s API, the cafe would be able to see their location and deliver the order.
We also integrated with the MasterCard API, another sponsor. Users could put their credit card on file and pay at the end of their visit for the cost of their seat and any food ordered. The goal was to provide our users with a seamless, VIP get-shit-done-at-a-coffee-shop experience.
So we spend all day Saturday and Sunday morning making this thing and it finally came time for us to submit to ChallengePost. The app looked great and worked for the most part, but we had one problem — we still didn’t have a good name for the app. We made a last second decision to change the name from Coffeebop to Croissant. We liked croissants and often bought them at coffee shops. And it was a cute name.
Dave went up to give our pitch and nailed it. Nailed it so much that a TechCrunch writer immediately approached our team afterwards for an interview. 20 minutes later, the article was on the front page of TechCrunch. The article was being tweeted everywhere. It was exhilarating.
After the hackathon was over, we were exhausted but felt proud of what we had accomplished in so little time. Proud that we had won tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt (normally thousands for a ticket). But mostly proud that we had built an awesome product that we would love using ourselves.
A few days later during a team meeting, we decided we loved Croissant so much that we wanted to pursue it. We went through many mini-pivots after user research, customer development, and more thinking. We talked to coffee shop owners and coffee shop patrons all across New York City. It seemed that coffee shop owners would love to monetize from the laptop hobos, and thought Croissant sounded like an interesting concept, but they were concerned that something like Croissant would ruin the democratic and chill vibe of their shop.
We then switched to talking to coworking spaces. The coworking spaces understood the concept right away, as they were mainly spaces that people paid to get work done in. We were thrilled with the positive response we were getting and decided to run with the coworking idea.
Today, Croissant has morphed into a very different app. We are now working with more traditional work spaces: coworking spaces, small offices, and studios. We plan to revisit coffee shops later, but it’s on the back burner for now. Even though our app has changed substantially, our vision remains the same and thus the name stuck. Here’s why.
Like I said, we enjoy working out of coffee shops. When we first get settled into the space, we buy a cup of coffee. An hour or so later, we feel a little guilty for having only spent a couple bucks. Rent is expensive, we recognize the baristas, etc. So we head to the barista to buy something else. Our nerves aren’t ready for a second cup of coffee, so we end up getting the croissant. It’s a Manhattan-priced $5 croissant that probably has been sitting out for a while. It’s a croissant that we don’t really want.
Today, Croissant seeks to replace this $5 croissant. We want people to be able to work out of different places in the city without having to worry about buying the metaphorical croissant. We want our users to feel confident that they have an awesome place to do work anywhere in the city. We want our users to have a seamless experience so they can focus on building the next big thing, not worry about finding a place to sit. It’s been our vision from the very beginning, and it’s our vision now.