Posts tagged community
Story Behind The Name Bridge City

The Work of Building Bridge City

I have been obsessed with greatness. It feels good to get that out of the way because my obsession with it has hindered me from getting anywhere close to achieving it. Funny how life works that way sometimes. The thing you think about the most constantly eludes you because blind focus on it becomes like walking through a forest while looking down at your feet the whole time, which we all know will guarantee that you run face first into a tree.

Part of the definition for the word "drive" is "motivation, ambition, single mindedness, doggedness, tenacity, commitment, aggression, vigor"; informal "get-up-and-go." Drive is what made some of the most successful people great: Elon Musk, Michael Jordan, Marie Curie, Bill Gates, Peyton Manning, etc. I'm not at all advocating that hard work and dedication aren't integral to truly achieve success, because I believe they are. But on the road we choose to walk we all have a choice to put our efforts into building a monument shaped after ourselves for our own glory or to build something bigger than ourselves. Something that outshines who we are because it's not about us. Rather, it's about building something for other people that continues working and succeeding even if we're not a part of it.

Story Behind The Name

Non profits provide some of the most meaningful, needed services for people who need a leg up. I'm fortunate to have been a part of some, like Purple Door, and witness others in action. Often they are very specialized in the populations they serve. While this specialization allows them to serve people in ways no other organizations can there can also be quite the adjustment for participants when they phase out or move on from the non profits services. I want to be clear that this is not criticism, it's simply reality. But this is where we want Bridge City to thrive. Our goal is to work alongside non profits, mainly who serve youth, to help young adults transition well into the real world, which is often cold, harsh and doesn't give a damn where or how you grew up. Our goal is to pick up where our partner organizations leave off and bridge the gap between non profit services and real world employment. We will also hire people who are not involved with our partners in any capacity, but hopefully that explanation communicates what we're trying to do.

Einstein

Back to my unhealthy obsession with greatness. In all honesty, I'm terrified to live a life of mediocrity that is forgotten the moment I'm put in the ground. I'm not writing this so any of you who know me send a text or email trying to convince me otherwise. In fact I would appreciate it if you didn't. The reason I'm including it here is because if Jon and I ever try to separate or elevate ourselves above what we are trying to accomplish or who we are trying to reach, we have failed. If all we try to do is be great, we never will be. I think Einstein said it best, "Try not to be a man of success, rather try to become a man of value." Which is similar to the drive behind our mission statement: Building hope and value through coffee. We want to inspire hope in our employees that life is worth living and can be so much more than just getting by.  And we want them to leave their time with us knowing how much each one of them matter - that they are of value.

April 20 - Roasted Coffee Sales, Raising Capital/Investment, Mobile Cart

Soft Launch of the Pop-Up Cart

Jon successfully ran our first pop-up cart in collaboration with Textile Hall. There was more excitement and buzz than we anticipated. He had great conversations about the business and employment model we're working to build as well as chatting about coffee in general. Multiple people commented that our model sounded similar to Purple Door, which was awesome! I'm working with Mark, Purple Door's executive director, to figure out how I can continue serving on the board after moving to Greenville as well as how PD and BC can partner together in the future. It was encouraging to Jon and me that people know about Purple Door across the country in Greenville in general, but that they also connected our model to it. All in all, our first event was a success.

Where We Are In Building Bridge City

As mentioned above, we had our soft launch for the coffee cart last week. In the immediate future we will be focusing on 3 things...

1. Wholesale and individual accounts for roasted coffee  Info for wholesale and any of our beans for individuals will be on the website soon. We are very excited and proud of the sourcing model we're building. Typically, in the coffee world, beans can pass through as many as 8 different parties before reaching your cup (farmer, co-op, washing/processing, exporter, importer, distributor, roaster, shop). While this is definitely necessary in a variety of contexts, it isn't always. We're in the process of finalizing some key relationships. However, by late 2017 all of the coffees, yes all, you will have the chance to experience through Bridge City will be sourced and handled in ways that we trust by people that we know, trust, and support. Our goal is to always provide full transparency with our coffees and our sourcing model is designed to minimize the number of hands that touch every bean we use. This will maximize the profit our farmers and their communities receive, allow us to maintain more direct and authentic relationships with them, and in the end create a better product with real community through it all. We'll talk more in depth about how we do this in future post. Or you can reach out and ask us for more details, we'd love to tell you about it!

2. Raising capital and exploring investment opportunities To get our physical shop location and the employment model up and running we need a substantial amount of capital, substantial to us anyway. The good thing is that as our wholesale and general accounts increase, the amount of investment we need decreases. While this is a positive thing we would rather have the shop up and running as soon as feasibly possible. Thankfully, we recently obtained our first investors! This was a big deal for us both tangibly and intrinsically that people believe enough in what we're doing to invest. Thank you, you know who you are! Having said that, we still have quite a bit to procure to get the shop up and running and this will be a focus for both Jon and me in the foreseeable future.

*Update We are currently talking with a huge potential client that would speed things up for purchasing a bigger roaster and warehouse space.

3. Continuing to utilize the mobile cart  We plan to continue this at different events throughout the Greenville and Anderson areas (Jon lives in Anderson). We'll post a schedule on the website as we solidify more events and you can also stay up to date via Instagram @bridgecitycoffee

What Is Bridge City Coffee?

Quick important detail on where we currently are while this is being written – It’s the beginning of April now and my wife and I plan to move from Denver, CO to Greenville, SC sometime around June. Jon is going to do our first pop-up cart at a First Friday event at Textile Hall this week. It's a good bit sooner than we anticipated to actually launch, but we're not complaining! Just have to get ready for it.

Some Background

I love good coffee.  I enjoy the way it tastes and how it wakes me up in the morning. I love how therapeutic it is to make. I love how it makes me think about things in a healthy big picture perspective with the journey each single coffee bean goes through to end up producing my morning fuel (more about this in an upcoming post). In addition to all that, I love the community, massive life or business decisions, and simple relaxation that all occur within the walls of coffee shops.

Through a quick Google search I found 50 independently owned coffee shops just around the downtown Denver area. That number doesn’t include any big chains like Starbucks and Dazbog or places like Dunkin Donuts that serve coffee drinks. So throw in the big chains and you’re easily close to 200 shops. That’s a saturated market to say the least. Out of all those shops there is one like Purple Door Coffee and simply put, Purple Door is one of the biggest reasons I want to create Bridge City Coffee.

I heard Mark, the executive director, speak at a 1 Million Cups meeting. I was fascinated by what they were doing and approached Mark following the meeting. After a lot of conversations and meetings with Mark I’ve been on the board of Purple Door for 6 months now. I still have a hard time not being overwhelmed when I go to the coffee shop or roaster and see the employees doing their jobs. There is a truth that hits me like a ton of bricks every time - I am witnessing each individual employee having their lives renewed while they are gaining applicable life skills and simultaneously learning about their worth and dignity as individuals. It’s not just a job, it’s the restoration of people’s lives. That’s why Jon and I want to build with Bridge City Coffee.

Mission and Structure of Bridge City Coffee

Two of the main differences between Purple Door and Bridge City will be the target demographic of employees and how the business will be structured. Purple Door was born out of Dry Bones, an NP that does amazing relief work for Denver’s homeless youth. They wanted something further down the scale from relief work more into rehabilitation and development, hence where Purple Door was conceived.  At Bridge City our goal is to catch people and equip them to succeed before they end up in need of serious relief or deep rehabilitation.

The way Bridge City will be structured is similar to a for-profit B-Corp (Benefit Corporation). We’re still working on honing in the exact percentages, but a percentage of our net profits will be reinvested back into the employee’s communities, some partner organizations, and the farming communities we source our beans from. We’ll call it the community fund. Of the community fund, Jon and I will work with the employees to help them reinvest 50% of the community fund directly back into the communities they are from. 35% will go towards partner organizations around the Greenville area, and 15% will go toward the farming coops and communities we work with.  One of the main drivers behind forming as a for-profit entity is to empower the employees with the knowledge that they are earning their own wages and keeping the business afloat through their hard work.

We'll write about the mission, goals, and unique factors of Bridge City in later posts. Part of the beauty of this blog (hopefully) is the dynamic nature of it all during the construction of the company. We may plan for one thing only to learn that it won't work and we have to pivot. Again, that's the terrifying and unique nature of writing something in the thick of it all. So keep following us, we'll make it worth it!