ZApreneur interviewed Thabiso Matlhwane, co-founder of Boys Coffee Club on running a mobile coffee business.
Hi. Tell us a little about who you are, and why you started Boys Coffee Club? Why the name “Boys Coffee Club”? Are there any girls involved?
We are a combination of 4 multi skilled individuals with a passion for change and success. The company came about when our Co-Founder and managing director wanted to do something that would compliment her already established business called Girls Cake Club. BCC has been operational for a year that is when i joined after i left Pick n Pay as a cashier and full time student. We are all trained baristas and Shannon is the only female that neutralises the bravado of the other 3 male partners.
What is your core offering? What makes you awesome?
Our core offering is coffee/crafted caffeinated drinks ranging from hot chocolate, teas, alcoholic and non-alcoholic coffee drinks and pastries. We our own coffee roasting, packaging and branding and have our own range of Boys Coffee Club coffee available for wholesale supply. We also do barista training and coffee shop consultations, which really makes our core offering all things COFFEE. What makes us awesome is our energy, creativity and combination of different personalities, which we have optimised to create memorable experiences for all our clients.
What has been your experience in running a mobile coffee business?
We have had amazing experiences good and bad being mobile comes with its own risks and uncertainties and we have managed to stick together and work as a unit to make it successful. We love mobile, because it has allowed us to meet and interact with different individuals from across the country, allowing us to develop new relationships in driving our business to success.
You have a branch in Cape Town? How does that work?
The branch in Cape Town was decided based on the 3 partners originally being from there. We have taken the concept we developed for Johannesburg and we are re-working and adapting it to suit that market. The coffee industry in Cape Town is a lot more developed than that of Johannesburg, but felt that there is still room for a black owned youth entity to bring in a different perspective to the norm.
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?
Never doubt yourself and your capabilities. There will be times where you may feel that you don’t see the returns in proportion to one’s efforts. Many start-ups struggle, because they under the impression that once start working you need to make a profit, forgetting that the business needs to be sustainable before you start seeing returns. You need to love and believe in what you do, because the negativity will be thrown at you from different avenues including those you’d least expect like family and friends, but if you believe in yourself an what u do nothing or no one can stop you from reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How did you overcome it?
Changing our lives to allow us to be fully focused on making the business a success. Each partner has made sacrifices towards the success of the business and the repercussions of those sacrifices, we still deal with on a daily basis, but we are all on the same page. We all have the same vision, we understand what our mission is (changing perceptions to an industry bombarded by generics an commonalities) is and we implement it on a daily even in our own lives. It is tough being a young black owned organization in a white dominated industry, because we need to work harder than everyone else with the capital and infrastructure, to prove ourselves, which we have been doing exceptionally well for over the past year.
Coffee is an interesting marketing in SA. How do you see the market developing?
The market is growing and thanks to one of the biggest competitors Starbucks, people will start understanding that coffee is a lifestyle and not an energy booster or something to keep you warm. The market is steadily starting to develop this concept and the aim now is to showcase the quality and competitiveness of local brands as this industry is still dominated by international brands.
Where can we get hold of you?
You can find us on Facebook and Instagram@ Boys Coffee Club and on twitter@Boyscoffeeclub1. You can also check out our website. We always share our locations when we are on the job and these are sometimes small pop up at markets, musical festivals and school functions, to corporate events and private functions. We have not established a permanent set-up as of yet, as we have not seen the need for it.
What are the plans for the future?
Firstly do be operational in all 9 provinces across the country, we plan on educating and training disadvantaged individuals allowing them to develop their own skill set, opening the window of opportunity for them and their families. We strive to be a generational business based on exceptional business ethics, high quality standards and unmatched customer services. We have decided to take the service offering we cater to middle and upper class markets and cater to low class markets at an entry level price. We have not compromised any of our standards to do this, but we want our people to understand that the stigma that coffee is for a certain type of person has no grounds to it and that we need to change the perceptions we have in order to open ourselves up to a bigger world.