Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elise Papazian, President and Co-Founder of GoCoffeeGo, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers? was created to be the ultimate destination to buy coffee online from top artisan roasters. We heavily vet each roaster and try their entire line of coffees. We do not just cherry-pick a few coffees from a roaster. We carry their whole line. Many hyped-up big-name roasters and hipster brands crash and burn on our cupping table. We are selective about who we bring on because we want only the best. The best is not the same for every customer, but whatever style of coffee drinker someone is, be it an espresso lover, a single-origin coffee geek, or a dark roast drip drinker, we have a fantastic selection.

Our customers trust us and are people who want to brew incredible coffee at home. The customers are everyone from busy people in big cities, people in small towns with no access, college students and professors in college towns, rock stars trapped in recording studios, and even people living at the South Pole at McMurdo Station!

Tell us about yourself

GoCoffeeGo was created from an idea that Scott Pritikin, my co-founder, and I came up with while sipping coffee in a London cafe. We wondered how anyone would know where the best coffee was unless you stumbled upon it. The internet was full of people in the USA with big ad dollars to spend claiming to be the best, but who really was? Most of the coffee was horrible, badly sourced burnt coffee.

Buying coffee online was a crap shoot. We knew there was a need for a site like GoCoffeeGo. We secretly ordered coffee for a year, then went on the road with our 2-year-old son, Oliver, and traveled for two months. We visited roasters to see who was legitimately roasting to order. It was really a great trip. We came back and launched to a lot of fanfare. Fourteen years later, we truly are often imitated but never duplicated.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Well, I would say that in starting GoCoffeeGo, we launched at a time when roasters were solo flyers. There was no real coffee movement when we started. Individual roasters couldn’t compete against the big coffee chains, but by bringing these roasters together, gave them power, and together they could. People credit us with really helping drive the movement that was to come. We are considered the OG’s of coffee e-com. I am proud of that.

I would also say that another personal accomplishment was pushing forward after my husband, Scott Pritikin’s death from esophageal cancer. I always expected him to beat it. He fought like a punk rocker but, ultimately, did not make it. I found myself running this thing we created and built together, but now on my own. It was hard. That is when competitors coming up the ranks caught wind and went in for the kill by launching cyber attacks and the works! They assumed I was weak. I showed them, and I showed myself. With the help of friends and loyal customers, I am still standing and growing. I am now a woman-owned business. I know Scott would be so proud of me.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think being a business owner requires making constant sacrifices. You will need to make financial sacrifices to grow your business. It would be easier to work for someone else and clock out at 5. There is no such thing, especially owning an e-com business. My store is open 24-7, and emails and customer service happening all night long. Finding a balance and shutting the computer is a real challenge. I want to right any wrong and solve any problem someone is having, even at 11:30 at night. When you own a business, you can not ignore the fact that you love your customers and care about their needs... even when you are half asleep!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start with a passion for something. Ask yourself if anyone else is doing it. If so, what will make you different? What will you offer or focus on to stand out? Is there a void in the marketplace for it?
  2. Realize the payoff will not be immediate. Especially if it is an online business, it will cost money in pay-per-click and PR for anyone to know you even exist. It is different from having a storefront where people see you and buy on the street.
  3. You must be prepared as time goes by and you launch your initial idea that it does not end there. It is vital to change, grow and rethink things as the market changes. That is how you survive and move into the future. Don't look in your rearview mirror. Keep moving forward.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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