Hi everybody :) I’m Josh, and I’m passionate about people.
My Kickstarter campaign is obviously about a café, but the campaign is also about people. Specifically, everyone. But I’ll get to that in a minute…
Portland Square is a tidy square in my neighbourhood of St. Paul's, Bristol. St Paul’s is an amazing, vibrant and diverse area, but is also notorious as an area with not much money invested into it, and houses some of the poorest people in Bristol. Portland Square, however, is undergoing a bit of a revamp, but bringing with it lots of high priced housing for a new community of high earners, leading some to be saddened at the apparent ‘gentrification’ of the area.
Portland Café stands at the crux between the clean lines and affluence of the new flats, and the older, more ramshackle side (where I live!) that gives the area its vibrancy. This is an exciting combination to be slap-bang in the middle of!
I’m a café man. I love the hospitality industry, as flawed and sometimes very unjust as it is. I want to create something beautiful in the industry; a place that not only values and welcomes every single person who walks through the door (whether they buy anything or not!) but also values and invests in the people who work there. I’m a big believer in ‘the more you invest in your staff, the more you’ll get out of them’, and so everybody wins. I call this ‘people service’, not ‘customer service’, as it doesn’t distinguish and means everyone can get along and create a great place together.
As passionate as I am about people, though, it doesn’t take away from my wealth of experience and desire for excellence when it comes to food and drink. I have worked in lots of cafés, bars and hotels over the years, and in more recent years have been second in command for three different start-up cafés, and managed another one that had only just been set up. I make good coffee, I’m particularly geeky about tea, and I know how to create a tasty and creative menu. And what’s more, Bristol is a café city, a fertile field for a booming industry; definitely the place for another interesting drinkery! ;) I will also be providing a 'stores' element, similar to a deli or an old style general store; somewhere the locals can get basics like milk, bread, cheese, coffee - basically most of what's on the café menu you'll be able to pick up to take back home with you!
Here's the real clincher, though; Milk Teeth won’t just be a great café. As well as valuing people, welcoming people and generally loving people, I want to give the people of my area a real, tangible opportunity to make something good and lasting. I want to create a business model that feeds in to micro-financing other small businesses, particularly local, St. Paul’s-based ones where the ideas people just don’t have the means to make their ideas into a reality. So, woven into my business model will be a clause that says after a certain threshold of income (basically once I break even and can take a living wage for myself), every penny made by Milk Teeth will be sown back into a micro-finance fund, that will be used to finance projects that fulfil the criteria - namely: local, independent, and with very little financial means of getting it off the ground. But it won’t stop there! Every project we finance will be bound by contract to perpetuate this business model of micro-financing more local businesses, so we will create an ever-growing network of small businesses, perpetuating a small-town economy of local, independent businesses, which will transform St Paul’s into a case study for community greatness! :)
In terms of nuts and bolts, £10,000 is the minimum I've worked out I need in order to get started and selling cups of coffee to the people of St Paul's. I've got quite a lot of other stuff I'd like to do, but that can wait until I've earned more, or we hit some stretch goals! So to begin with, your hard-earned cash will go towards good quality equipment (coffee machine, grinder, etc.) that will ensure the locals get a good product and good service, a sensitive and tasteful redecoration of the premises, the first month's rent while we kit the place out, initial accountant fees, opening stock, my basic living costs for the months of January and February (I'm going to be working round the clock to get the place running, so won't be working another job), and lots of other small but essential costs (let me know if you want to know more details!). I've put a lot of thought into how to strike the balance between a ridiculously extravagant goal and a ridiculously "what's the point??" goal, so please help me get there - and hopefully beyond!
So why is this campaign about everyone?
It’s about reaching out to the people on my doorstep, and affecting everyone who lives in the area or comes through the doors of my business. But it’s also about being an example; you, too, can do what I’m doing and sow into your community, and sow into other people’s lives.
Kickstarter is such a great example of how we can all invest in each other’s great ideas and create a better world. That’s why it’s so appropriate that this campaign begins its life on Kickstarter. Please back this vision, for the sake of something great happening; one cup of coffee at a time.
Risks and challenges
Of course, there are always risks with this sort of venture, eg. will anyone actually turn up; will I have done my margin calculations correctly; will another similar business spring up and take all my custom; etc.
I believe I am adequately prepared at this stage in the game to face all challenges that will come my way, but will be as open and honest about any obstacles that may present themselves unexpectedly, and which I will have to overcome in the process of setting up.
Having been involved in several start-ups previously, I know what it's like to encounter problems you weren't expecting, but I've also had lots of practice in rolling with the punches and adapting. I also have a great team - my wife, family and friends - who will all be working hard to make sure the dream lives. The great thing about Kickstarter, though, is having another team of supporters; so please say hello and ask me anything - you may ask me something I've not thought of, that will help me be more prepared!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)