Tell us the backstory of Citizens
Originally from Australia, Citizens founders, Andrew Geisel and Justin Giuffrida both 29 years old, originally moved to New York to work in their respective professions, architecture and finance. Upon a chance meeting in a café back in 2015, the pair bonded over how much they missed the unique Australian café experience in the city. The fresh, healthy and progressive breakfast menus, beautifully crafted coffee and the warm feeling of walking into your local café where the staff knows you by name, face and order. This shared experience led to the ideation that America was ready for a better café experience, modernizing the outdated diner, creating a more craft and premium coffee beyond the monopolized Starbucks product.
It was their complementary career backgrounds that led Geisel and Giuffrida to become a dynamic duo, both bringing a different skill set to the table; Geisel is the mind behind the creative and design, and Giuffrida helms the financial and accounting side of the business. In 2016, the duo opened their first Citizens cafe in Chelsea—the Citizens name brings in their foreign backgrounds, and meets the pillar of the business which is serving the citizens of that cafe’s particular location. Just a year after its initial grand opening of ‘Citizens of Chelsea’ the duo went on to opening a Gramercy location, followed by a corner location on the iconic Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, and their most recent location on the famed block in Soho on Lafayette Street next door to one of New York’s restaurant institutions, La Esquina. Each serving something unique to their respective locations, Citizens is overall a place for people to come together, enjoy fresh, healthy and creative menus, and soak up warm Australian hospitality. With the ongoing success of all their locations, the founders are ready to embark on an expansion journey and bring their innovative Aussie cafe concept to other neighborhoods in New York, but to different cities around the country.
Why did you decide to launch an investment campaign on Republic as opposed to raising private equity?
One of Citizens’ core pillars is community—we give back to the community and want to serve them in more ways than one. The success of the business has been from the communities that our cafes are in. From day one, it’s the Citizens locals that are the people who have supported the company and who have already been on this journey of growth and evolution together over the years. So, when we decided to embark on our larger expansion journey, we wanted to find a way to give back to those who have become a pivotal part of their business. That’s why we decided to launch an investment campaign that helps invite our community to be part of this process. Launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic is a way for Citizens to offer our local customers the opportunity to invest in their favorite cafe.
Why is this a good investment proposition?
It is widely known that Aussie cafes are extremely successful in New York City and are leading the wave of consumers wanting a more premium coffee, healthy eats and better guest experience. The rise of specialty coffee is an incredibly fast-growing category as US consumers begin the shift away from Starbucks to a more premium product. The most recent data published in 2020 by the National Coffee Association (NCA) shows that specialty coffee has increased to 60% market share, up from only 9% in 1991. The demand for specialty coffee and healthy food will continue to grow strong, and soon Australian-style cafes will become the new norm of the market rather than the exception. This form of equity crowdfunding that Citizens is using through the platform Republic, is a brand-new and innovative concept to the hospitality industry. With contributions starting as little as $100, this is a great, attainable investment for everyday people who believe in the strength of the Citizens brand and burgeoning specialty coffee & wellness category.
Tell us about the expansion, what is your long-term goal with raising investment?
Republic crowdfunding forms part of a wider $5 million Series-A financing round modeled to fuel a 40-unit national expansion across nine major U.S markets, with a proven business model & formula bolstered with a unique real estate landscape presents unrivaled opportunities. In our lead up to launching on Republic and opening up investment to the public, we have already received an overwhelming show of support and early investments putting us well on track to filling the round. We have a strong pipeline of eight stores planned for the next 24 months bringing our store count to 12.
The company has modeled a three-phased expansion plan within existing markets and beginning its strategic growth plan in new markets, using a repeatable and predictable new market entry strategy that will ensure sustained success. Completion of the three-phased expansion shall see Citizens 10x its footprint and achieves an annual run rate of $80M. Upon completion of the Series-A expansion, the business will be in a strong position to merge with a strategic partner, accelerating a path to IPO.
How can consumers get involved?
We decided to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign on an innovative platform like Republic, as it is one of the easiest ways for everyday people to invest in the companies they love. As simple as signing up for free on Republic.co which takes less than 5 minutes, anyone can choose their own monetary investment in Citizens. People can choose from as little as $100 investment. We’ve created an awesome tiered-perk structure, to incentivize and reward our investors immediately, through free coffees and brunches, depending on how much you invest.
Tell us about the perks on getting involved? (this is important, as consumers can invest as little as $100 up to $10K and get free coffees, brunches for life, etc)
We wanted to reward whoever is investing in Citizens, almost immediately so we decided to create an amazing reward system for everyone who invests with our company. Everything from free coffees, cocktails, all the way up to free weekly brunches ‘for life’ based on a $10,000 investment. Here’s a peek at the rewards based on the different investments:
$100: 5 Free coffee or cocktails—Citizens with Benefits: Invest $100, and you’ll receive five free coffees or cocktails, loaded onto your Citizens Green Card.
$250: 10 Free coffee or cocktails—Citizens with Extra Benefits: Invest $250, and you’ll receive ten free coffees or cocktails, loaded onto your Citizens Green Card.
$500: 10 Free coffee or cocktails—Citizens with Extra Special Benefits: Invest $500, and you’ll receive five free brunches, worth $150 loaded onto your Citizens Green Card.
$1,000: Free coffee or cocktail for a year—Citizens Weekly: Invest $1,000, and you’ll receive a Citizens Investor Card, loaded up with a free coffee or cocktail every week—that’s 52 coffees or cocktails a year.
$2,500: Free brunch for a year—Citizens Weekly: Invest $2,500, and you’ll receive a Citizens Investor Card, loaded up with a free brunch every week - that’s fifty-two brunches a year.
$,5000: Free coffee or cocktail for life—VIP Citizen: Invest $5,000, and you’ll receive a Citizens VIP Investor Card, loaded up with a free coffee or cocktail every week for life.
$10,000: Free brunch for life—VIP Citizen: Invest $10,000, and you’ll receive a Citizens VIP Investor Card, loaded up with a brunch every week for life.