We like to feature Detroit-area entrepreneurs succeeding in the business world, while bringing revenue and positive attention to our city and to focus on how they built their businesses. One of these entrepreneurs is the owner of Detroit Bold Coffee Co.
The company’s owner ran a coffee shop in Ferndale for five years. He says that he was able to get his products into local stores. However, he had no experience with supply chains and just what it took to get large retailers to carry his coffee. Starting next month, though, Detroit Bold coffee, made in a century-old facility in Highland Park, will be in Meijer stores.
It’s taken four years, but orders and his revenues have increased substantially. Detroit Bold’s owner has spent $50,000 of his own money, some earned by working as a roofer, to get the business going. He was still in the red last year, but this year he conservatively estimates revenues to top $200,000 and says he has thousands of monthly orders.
So, how did he do it? It took a village, so to speak. He needed a lot of professional guidance and to learn how large food retailers do business. He knew nothing about industry practices of big chains like Whole Foods or Meijer regarding things like display maintenance and delivery schedules.
The entrepreneur started by working with a Ferndale businessman who owns a salsa company. After mentoring him for about a year, the salsa company owner helped him connect with a Grand Rapids-based broker. Brokers represent manufacturers to large retail chains in return for a commission of their sales. The partnership with the broker was vital to his growth. After working with Detroit Bold’s owner on things like presentation, the booker connected him last December with Meijer, where he will soon have his coffee in over 100 stores. He also nabbed a deal with a distributor in Warren that he expects will get his coffee into another 50 stores.
All Michigan business owners need a strong team of professionals supporting them. This includes legal representatives who are well-versed in state and local laws and regulations. By having a good legal team, a business owner can help avoid unnecessary and costly litigation. They also freed up to focus on their passion — in this case, keeping Michigan residents well-caffeinated with locally-made coffee.
Source: Crain’s Detroit Business, “Drop by drop, startup coffee seller grinds out his pitch” Gary Anglebrandt, Mar. 09, 2014