How Starbucks Became A Household Name And Lessons For Entrepreneurs

How Starbucks Became A Household Name And Lessons For Entrepreneurs

Meet Howard Schultz, the man behind the green mermaid.

Schultz has spoken openly about his experiences with poverty growing up, and the struggles his working class family faced to survive.

In fact, in order to pay for college he worked a variety of interesting gigs from bartending to donating blood for cash.

Upon graduating he floated around between different jobs until he got hired by Hammarplast, a housewares business owned by a Swedish company called Perstorp.

It was while working in housewares that Schultz got his major opportunity.

Finding The Right Coffee Fit

You see, a small coffee brand based out of Seattle caught his eye when they ordered a large amount of drip coffee makers from Hammarplast.

Finding himself curious about the order, he ended up traveling to Seattle to meet coffee store owners Gerald Baldwin and Gordon Bowker.

They owned just three small stores locally in Seattle and had just started selling coffee beans for home use.

Schultz knew their idea of making gourmet coffee more accessible was onto something.

And so he spent an entire year convincing them to let him be head of retail and marketing.

Once Baldwin and Bowker had been won over, Schultz set himself to his task: making Starbucks well-known.

Our First Takeaway

Sometimes your next venture idea can come from surprising places - always be open to exploring these however unlikely it may seem.

It just so happens that Starbucks went on to send Schultz to Milan, Italy to attend a housewares show.

As the story goes, he encountered several espresso bars there where owners knew their customers by name and served them drinks like cappuccinos and cafe lattes.

To him, this was an epiphany.

Coffee is personal. It can be a connection between people.

Why couldn't it be the same back home on US soil?

Schultz rushed back to Starbucks owners Baldwin and Bowker with his idea excited by what he'd discovered.

They shot him down completely.

And so it was that Schultz left Starbucks, determined to cultivate an Italian-like experience for coffee-lovers under his own brand.

He spent two years doing so, and by the end of those two years his business acquired the six existing Starbucks stores.

This is Takeaway Number Two

Having something you are passionate about is easy - going after it and making it happen despite the naysayers might not be simple but it can be lucrative long-term.

Under the leadership of Schultz, Starbucks took on astronomical growth.

By the early 90s Starbucks had grown to165 stores pulled in $93 million in revenue, going public on NASDAQ to great success.

The 2000s saw them go global and today they have over 32,000 locations worldwide.

And while the run hasn't always been smooth, Schultz has managed to keep the company profitable while still maintaining good policies for employees, like health coverage, 401(k) plans, parental leave, and tuition coverage, among other things.

Which is my final takeaway for this thread.

Happy people make for better companies. Treat your teams well and you'll see them be more productive, less likely to look for other employment and even innovate for you.

Now excuse me while I go finish my Grande Cappuccino and conquer this Friday.

Follow @andrewamann on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular business insights and see behind-the-scenes of our venture studio.

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