I’m starting a new venture with some partners.

It’s called @coffeetoro.

I’m going to live-tweet it.

I’ll walk through how I’m going from concept to (hopefully) profitable business.

I hope it’ll at least be entertaining.
What is it?

We are starting a chain of drive-through( coffee stores/kiosks.

The kind you see all over the pacific northwest.

But haven’t made it to most of Middle America yet.

(Mockup attached)
Let’s start at the beginning.

Where did the idea come from?

About three years ago, I read that coffee shops have the lowest failure rate of any food/beverage biz.

It’s something like 90% success rate. Only dentists do better as SMB startups!

I filed that away.
On a family trip to Bentonville in early May, I saw this place.

They were killing it.

Running two drivethrough lines for most of the day.

With big crowds and now 8 loc’ns in 3 years.

Another data point.
Intrigued, I looked for these kiosks in San Antonio.

I found a few and sat for a few hours in observing them.

I counted cars—they’re doing well.

But the market is far from saturated.

In the whole town, there are only a dozen of them.

Another data point.
Watching the customers, I see something else interesting:

They aren’t the @Starbucks crowd.

It occurs to me that there is a trend going on — “luxury” coffee is moving downmarket here.

Another data point.
There’s a ton to like about this business:

- high gross margin
- somewhat simple
- little food waste
- plays to things I know (and resources I have already)
- can get off the ground without a ton of capital
- should cash flow within 6-12 months
- few organized competitors
There are also things to dislike.

-retail (blech)
-growth requires capital
-it's a service business
-never done anything like this
-opportunity cost (could work on other stuff)
So, I’ll pause here.

This looks like an opportunity to exploit — or at least test the market.

The big next question is: how to do that?

Stay tuned.

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More from @girdley

5 Oct
A thread on business partnerships.

Everyone seems to have nightmare stories about them.

How do you make them work?

Here are some lessons learned.

Have a written "divorce" planned at the start.

My favorite is a push-pull single-trigger buy-sell:

Any party can decide they want out. Party A offers Party B $x/share. B has 60 days to sell or buy out A at the same terms.

Lawyers can put this in.

Mentally prepare yourself to be rich and not king.

This is easier said than done.

You have to put your ego and often your pocketbook as a secondary thing to have everyone winning together.

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