CRU Kafe was founded in 2013 by three friends who wanted to get the best possible coffee out of their Nespresso® machines. Not happy with what was available on the market, they decided to make their own – and after a successful Kick Starter campaign, CRU Kafe was born. We caught up with co-founder Colin who you might recognise from Silicon Real or from watching the Travel Channel. In fact, you can find out more about Colin right here..
Why did you decide to start your own business?
It’s just in my DNA. I’ve never really done well at working for other people. I think creating something from nothing is one of the most rewarding experiences someone can have. Really when I finished my MBA in London there was just no real chance I was going to end up working for someone else.
If I was going to work for someone else it would be investing in people like me, but I decided that to work for yourself is the only way that I wanted to live my life, and have the freedom to create things.
I love the first 3-4 years of a business where you’re literally just creating/solving problems every single day.
BB: What skill or ability is most important and why?
I think self awareness is one of the most important traits in an entrepreneur. I think knowing what you don’t know and knowing where you need help and knowing that you aren’t necessarily your customer…..you might be at the beginning but as your audience grows you may not be.
So having that self awareness and then that stems down into all the different categories of, okay I need to hire people that can do things that I can’t. Okay, well in order to do that properly you need to know what you can’t do and be very honest about it.
In the office I hate it when people say ‘let’s put out this product because our customers will like it’ – nowadays with all the data that you can collect from your customers, there’s no need to make that statement. It’s ‘let’s put out this product because our customers want it and not because I think they want it’, and so again that requires a level of self awareness to say, ‘maybe I don’t know what our customer wants so let’s go out and ask them.’
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned?
I’d say two things, one thing is find great founders. I think being an entrepreneur on your own is very lonely, I think it’s a rollercoaster of a ride and if you don’t have people right there next to you, feeling the bumps with you, then it can be lonely. We at Cru, we initially started with four and now we’re three (laughs), so make sure you pick the right ones.
If I had to add to that I’d say there’s so much you can do now with starting a business, to create and get really far before having fixed costs. So, before you start having rent and other salaries and stuff like that make sure you do everything that you can get done in trademarks and websites, design etc. I probably worked full time but I worked with part time people for about 6-8 months.
What’s the best part of your job?
That it changes every single day. If I had to come into work every day and do the exact same thing it would drive me completely mental which is probably why I don’t love when the business gets to 5 years cash flow positive, generating profits, and you end up managing 100 people.
Right now I pretty much come in, I have a list of things that I need to get done today. Depending on what’s going on with the business I could be focusing on fund raising, I could be focusing on sales, I could be focusing on PR stuff, I could be focusing on internal management meetings I could be focusing on product stuff…
I call myself Chief Fire Fighter most of the time because a lot of the times I’m putting out fires. Stuff goes wrong a lot in the early days of a business and it’s how you deal with those issues early on that can really steer you for success or failure.