How I Started A $2K/Month Coffee Brand

Start A Coffee Brand
About The Company
Coming Up With The Idea
Building The Product
Launching The Business
Growing The Business
Revenue + Financials
Lessons Learned
Recommended Tools
Books & Resources
Advice For Founders
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
$2,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
product
Golden Made Kafé
from Houston, TX, USA
started March 2019
$2,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
3.07M
alexa rank
Discover what tools Laure reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Laure reccommends to grow your business!
Listen to the audio version of this story!

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Laure Lemboumba, Founder and Owner of Golden Made Kafe INTL, LCC. We are an online coffee supplier providing a variety of coffee products inspired by American, French, and African recipes. Our office is headquartered in Houston, Texas and also we have a subdivision in Gabon (in Central Africa).

We launched our coffee brand, Golden Made Kafe, to give our customers a productive day while discovering an immersive experience behind their cup of coffee. We sell our products through two distinct channels of distribution: direct consumers and local supermarkets.

Our best-sellers are the Golden Hazelnut, Sweet N’ Pecan, and Breakfast Blend.

Thanks to our marketing strategy, we can generate monthly revenue of $2,000 in which 10% contribute to transforming millions of people’s lives by providing educational opportunities, safe water, and better sanitation around the world.

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I am originally from Gabon in Central Africa, my family and I moved to France when I was three years old for business matters. Entrepreneurship has always been a dream of mine from witnessing my Dad multiple and diverse. Therefore, I went to the University of Technology in Roanne, France where I got my degree in Technology in Industrial Logistics, Quality, and Organization. At the end of my program, I was awarded the Young Creator of a National Production Unit in 2007.

Due to my business ambition, I decided to broaden my skills by adding international market language, English. So, I moved to Houston, Texas (US) to go further into my education. In 2014, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management from the University of Houston-Downtown.

Consequently, I got into coffee about six years ago when I started working for a coffee manufacturing plant in Houston. At that time, I was not a huge coffee drinker but after seeing what it takes to get a single cup of coffee and how it could make a difference in someone’s day. I knew I wanted to be an actor in that industry.

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Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

It took me two years to officially open my business in March 2019. In the beginning, I was a Senior Customer Service / Inventory Analyst in a global diamond company. I was working there as a full-time employee during the day and on my project at night. It was extremely tough to manage and prioritize my time as a mother, wife, full-time employee, and freelancer. All I wanted was to accomplish my dream as soon as possible.

Be prepared to fail - one of my biggest pitfalls was to identify what situation is important or not. I had to learn how to delegate and trust other’s work ethic instead of controlling every aspect.

I spent the first two-months searching on Google about the coffee industry, its advantages, and inconvenience. I took a chance to register for different seminars, free local resources, and so on to get a solid business plan. With my day job, I was able to save up enough money to start my own and to pay some services to get things done due to time restrictions. For instance, I hired an agency to register my company and process all legal documents for a total cost of $750.

During this initial phase, I contacted about twenty different local and national coffee roasters to identify which one would be the best fit based on green beans availability, machine capacity, manufacturing process, production logistics and transportation costs, and so on. After selecting our roaster, I came up with a list of ten coffee profiles reflecting my brand and we performed various cupping tests internally.

In parallel, I was collaborating with my packaging designer for finalizing the packaging of my coffee products. I was overwhelmed - I did not evaluate the time consuming and efforts that would imply.

Thanks to my friends, family, and my mentor - I was able to face all challenges and overcome obstacles. My championship helped me out with packaging selection, coffee tasting surveys, and other activities related to all prototypes. When I received the first order of my finished coffee products, I was so excited and shaking at the same time. Now, I realized that my dream has come true.

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

Describe the process of launching the business.

Throughout my extensive research, I was very pleased to find out about a company that could fully build up my website for $2,200 with affordable monthly payment options. What I like the most, they agreed to summarize the entire website in French on a single page. I did not wait for the completion of my website to open our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. In the meantime, I was looking online for any business events that I could showcase my coffee brand.

Our marketing strategy was to effectively represent the different cultures in one platform. Furthermore, I would like to educate my consumers about the unique story behind the cup of coffee. Believe me - we do not drink a regular beverage, but we drink a scientific cup to enrich our day. This is why I developed a coffee brand for coffee lovers, and it would be appreciated by non-coffee drinkers. You do not need to add creamer nor sugar - just enjoy the delicious and fresh exclusive blends.

At first, we published posts on social media three times a week about features of the products, testimonies, promotions, games, referral rewards, and coffee industry news. Moreover, I attended business events in which I was able to talk to prospects, build up my emails list, give free samples, and flyers. Finally, I announced the launch of my coffee brand via press releases online.

The biggest lesson that I learned is that you can not be successful in what you do without failure. Get out of your comfort zone and learn how to be comfortable while being uncomfortable.

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

My best growth advice is word-to-mouth and referral rewards.

My first customers were my friends and family that did spread the word to their circles. I remembered that we generated $500 revenue only with this strategy.

The other great thing is paid advertising on Facebook - this increases the traffic towards my website. Then, a landing page pops up and prospects will sign up on my emails list. Once a month, I will send an email campaign/newsletter through my Constant Contact account.

Additionally, networking and partnerships are the ultimate choices to build up your internal relationship. On the other hand, I tried to advertise in local newspapers and did not generate any money. When it comes to SEO, you have to select the right person to set it up properly. We had tried diverse services but with no significant success.

How do I bring existing customers back? This is a question that I used to ask myself until I saw it happen lately with the “Black Business Matter” campaign. One of my friends referred my company name on one Twitter post to support Black Business. That week, I received a bunch of orders via my website. And since then, these same customers do not order one product like they usually do, but they can order 5-6 at the time. If your customers love your products and support your story… you will go up and higher.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Golden Made Kafe is profitable - I started focusing on developing a sales plan in January 2020. Due to the pandemic, I had to recently change my business model to sell our products to direct consumers and local supermarkets.

Our Gross Margins are about 44% of our revenue. In the beginning, your margins will be quite impressive because your company does not have a large workforce and other substantial overhead expenses. This is why as a sole entrepreneur you need to evaluate carefully your pricing that your customers are willing to pay and you will be able to make profits.

My cost of goods is about 37% - I plan to strategically increase my sales volume but make sure that I am earning maximum money on those sales. The cost of goods sold and fixed costs are factors that have always room for improvement. Based on my customer acquisition costs and ad costs, it generates $2 worth of the revenue.

Thanks to advertising, my customers spend about 3 minutes on my website, with monthly traffic of 400, and a conversion rate of 15%. As of today, we have an email list of 157 contacts, 2160 followers on Facebook, and 470 on Instagrams that generate online monthly sales of about $1,500 and $500 in the stores.

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand Facebook paid ad

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand GMK flyer

Make sure to hang out with people that propel you - business is about partnerships and teamwork.

Our business operation takes into account four elements:

  • A combination of the process - stock replenishment, customers’ orders, and reverse logistics.
  • Staffing - we have a remote team working on marketing, sales, and order processing. We also offer in-person delivery in certain local areas and ship other orders via USPS.
  • Location - we do have a local office in Southwest Houston from where we pack and ship our orders.
  • Technology - we use different software internally to get our job done faster and minimize errors.

Thanks to our sales team, we have opportunities to expand our business and sell our coffee products in other states. Also, we will launch specialty coffee products very soon. These specialty coffee products are made with a mix of green beans from West Africa. Finally, our long term goal strategy will be to open 1 - 2 Coffeeshop (s) in Houston and one in Gabon (Central Africa).

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand Symposium award

how-i-started-a-2k-month-coffee-brand Symposium speech

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Starting a business is an amazing and powerful experience. We faced obstacles on the road, but we must keep moving to achieve our goal. Open a business in the field that you are passionate about and make sure that you are surrounded by your championship. What I call the championship is your close friends, family, and mentor. They will always be with you during your ups and downs.

I am a visionary with big ideas - work hard to achieve my goals. My biggest strength will be the dedication and a great problem solver. These skills helped me to create the internal process of my company promptly. My passion for the coffee industry is key to my daily motivation and achievements, especially when you run a business in a male-dominated industry.

Be prepared to fail - one of my biggest pitfalls was to identify what situation is important or not. I had to learn how to delegate and trust other’s work ethic instead of controlling every aspect.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use Ecwid for our online store cart as it is fast and easy to set up. With Ecwid, we did integrate shipping tools. We use an email address strictly for customers’ orders ([email protected]) - our shopping cart is linked to our Quickbooks account for our CPA. We also use Clover devices to take our customers’ payment on the go. This is one of my favorites: I love the aesthetic and all features such as print or send via email customers’ receipt, linked to your Quickbooks account, register a new customer, check your inventory from your device.

For social media, our team uses Loomly to schedule posts a week ahead. As for email marketing, we love Constant Contact - they have so many features and you can create and manage your email campaign on your own. Finally, we review our Google Analytics dashboard weekly to evaluate our performance and identify what KPIs we can improve.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I have multiple resources that I refer myself to that give me strength, hope, and a bigger vision. They remind me that we need to keep moving whatever situation we are facing.

One of my greatest motivations is Dr. Myles Munroe. I cannot spend a day without listening to his YouTube channel named “Inspiring Habits” - he teaches you how to change the way you think to reach your dream goal… this is powerful when you start applying concepts in your lifestyle.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Being an entrepreneur is a new and powerful transition that you have to adjust strategies and tactics. One thing that I learned on the spot is there is a cost associated with it. Your close circle will not be the same: be ready to feel alone and grow on your own. This is totally “ok”! Make sure to hang out with people that propel you - business is about partnerships and teamwork.

I think the mistake that young entrepreneurs make repeatedly is that we do not take the risk to stand out. There is a difference between complacency and achievement. When you decide to be an entrepreneur, you may lose today and gain tomorrow. The question is how do you stand out from the crowd and be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

My native language is French - once I got here 10 years ago, I went 1.5 years in an English institution to learn it as my second. I could not stand in front of an audience and talk about a specific topic.

Back in November 2019, I was selected to participate at the Fifth Annual Symposium of the Cameron School of Business at the University of ST. Thomas to educate and share about women in entrepreneurship and the foundation of Golden Made Kafe. Tips: pick what you love to do and learn from the bottom - if I could do it, you can be the next entrepreneur with a solid foundation.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

With the current recession, we do not hire at the moment but we think to implement a referral program and SEO. I would love to talk with someone that offers this kind of service.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Laure Lemboumba,   Founder of Golden Made Kafé

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