Modern life means facing decisions again and again. From what to wear to how to address a problem at work, the need to check yes or no is never-ending. Most choices are of the humdrum variety, but some forever change everything that comes after. In an ongoing series titled “All the Difference,” we ask women to think back on a pivotal moment that affected everything.
The majority of modern co-founder stories have their starts in b-school or a single fruitful year of undergrad before pursuing the dream. Kara Cohen and Ilana Kruger, co-founders of Dripkit, a single-use drip coffee system funded on Kickstarter, tell a more colorful tale.
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Both women had quit their real jobs and were looking to put down roots in New York City. Cohen was living in San Francisco, saw Kruger’s Craigslist post looking for a roommate, and sent off a note.
“I wanted to ask a seemingly silly question that would give me really good insight into someone’s personality,” Kruger remembered. “I wanted to live with someone bold, creative, and kind, so I thought about Disney characters. Everyone knows them, and they are each strong and different.” So, she asked every potential roomies to name the character they most resembled. Cohen was more than game. “I loved the question because it was a welcome break from the common requests: hobbies, dishwashing habits, etc. It gave me a chance to think and get creative,” she said. Her best and final answer? Aladdin‘s Genie (“Because you’ll never have a friend like me”—ba-dum-tiss).
“We ended up having a three-hour Skype chat that left me with no reservations about showing up on her doorstep with my bags at 6 A.M. after a red-eye. That connection made me feel confident enough to take a risk to move across the country, alone, with no job,” Cohen said. From there, a real friendship started blossoming into the kind of simpatico situation that translates well to a business partnership too. “We were an instant team. We started making things together all the time: videos, piñatas, paintings, songs. We’d throw imaginatively themed dinner parties,” Kruger said.
“Our friendship grew out of not just thinking of crazy ideas, but actually making them,” Cohen added. Living situations shifted and the two stopped being roommates, but that didn’t kill the synergy. “Even after we weren’t living together we’d collaborate on each other’s projects. I would help Ilana with branding and social media, and she would help me with building websites and developing sales strategies. Eventually, we ended up working at the same company, and coworkers saw that when they paired us up on a project, we both performed at our best.”
Our friendship grew out of not just thinking of crazy ideas, but actually making them.
In the winter of 2016, a Facetime gripe about how hard it can be to find a decent cup of coffee led to Dripkit. “I started strategizing ways to solve the problem and when Ilana got back [from traveling] a month later, she immediately jumped in,” Cohen explained. “No discussion. Within a week or two it was clear that we were business partners. In a way, we’ve always been.”
“It seemed like everyone we spoke to would say, ‘I need that,’ including customers we’d never thought of, like nurses and flight attendants,” Kruger added. Those unofficial focus groups were all the encouragement they needed. The two started immediately, diving in to research and prototype development.
Now, in November of this year, Dripkit will start shipping. You can pre-order your “pocket-sized pour over” here at a special rate: two boxes of 10 for $25 (the regular price for one = $25).