I always wanted to start a company that showed that being a business focused on social impact was not just the right thing to do but also was good business. I created Zombie Coffee to be a catalyst for positive social impact in the communities it existed in, and I truly believe that this work with the community leads to our success. Having a good product is key and people will not come without it, but we also work hands-on with our community and support however we are able to. The community recognizes this and supports us back. My parents did a lot of work with non-profits when I was younger and I saw that even during recessions they would support one another, and I really wanted to create a business that could expand and prove that the world works cyclically and when business and community support one another we all grow together.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Building a good product, getting the name out there, and finding investment are always a challenge. We were able to overcome this hurdle by doing pop up shops all over town and partnering with other stores and companies to prove there was interest in our product and create a good foundation for us to build on.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
The Art of Possibility - Benjamin Zander
A great book showing outside of the box thinking. Written by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, it takes the world of a music and business and combines them to show possibility.
The Innovators - Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson is my favorite biography author. I enjoyed all his books, but this book specifically shows a very interesting history of a lot of people and their individual stories and contributions to creating the computer and the internet.
The Pitch – podcast where you get to hear entrepreneurs do a pitch and what comes after. I think it does a great job of showing what shark tank doesn’t (the aftermath of a pitch, what can go wrong, and how to make it go right)
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family and friends were always extremely supportive in my pursuits. They were key in helping introduce me to people and building a network, which is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Without the network of people I had to help me and propping me up in the different areas I was weak in, I would not have been able to do any of this.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
The team! No one can do anything alone building a team to support where you are weak is essential and my team still teaches me new things every day many years later.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
You are going to have a lot of great ideas coming your way no matter what you are doing but try to pick the few things that define your company and what it is trying to accomplish and perfect that. Build your product and test those things that define your company. After you have proven your concept you can work on the next feature and if something doesn’t work do not give up figure out where it went wrong and pivot.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Same as the previous answer!