Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Bullock,  
Co-Founder of Holy Joe, located in Byron Bay, NSW, Australia.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Holy Joe is a premium cold drip coffee that includes native Australian functional mushroom extracts. I'd say our customers are healthy and design-oriented and take pride in the little moments of their day where smooth, health-supportive coffee can make all the difference.

Tell us about yourself

In my younger days, I was a barista - a bad one. I loved everything to do with coffee, but I was such a perfectionist that it might take ten minutes for your latte to arrive, which is not a great thing in a busy cafe!

After many years of working for others and tinkering with cold drip coffee on the side, I realized that the world of coffee looked fairly homogenous - Australia is world-leading in coffee quality, but there was nothing I could see that felt new or challenging.

After pulling together a concept for a completely different format of coffee and finding a fantastic business partner (my now brother-in-law, Christian [right in photo]), we left our jobs together to start Holy Joe.

Everything we do is based around making people happier and healthier through coffee, as well as being courageous enough to focus on design, quality, and sustainability over just the lowest bottom dollar.

When you have a product that truly stands out and that carries your own philosophy into the world, it allows you to work through the more difficult days of starting a business.

If I had to pick my motivation for each day, I’d point to a very loyal group of stockists and customers who don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and feedback. I’d also point to Christian, who lets me stay present and accountable.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment as business owners would still be taking something from the recesses of our minds and catapulting it into the world - and being lucky enough to have some fantastic feedback along the way.

After decades of working in jobs I may not have liked, this still blows my mind.
We’re still new and finding ways to get better, so at this point, every technical improvement or useful pivot feels like a big accomplishment.

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

We’re enjoying ourselves too much to say that anything’s too insurmountable, especially with Christian and I work as a team. I think a big part of the improvements we’ve both made over the last few months is recognizing our strengths and weaknesses and building on them in a way that’s healthy and open.

There’s no real use in criticism other than maybe stoking your own ego - and afterward, everyone feels sorry for themselves anyway. A real honest conversation between partners is a must, and keeping an open mind and an even keel during those conversations will make the business run a thousand times easier.

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

  1. Go out and look for your niche. Read books. Make sure you’re offering something new and worthwhile, and even gather some early feedback from people you’d consider in your target market. Most importantly, make sure that you’re in love with your idea without being blind to its potential disadvantages - otherwise, they’ll sneak up on you.
  2. Low on experience? Consider finding a business partner that you'd trust to stick by you for ten or so years. In my experience, finding one that fills in a lot of your blind spots helps a lot.
  3. Work on yourself and keep working on yourself. There are always things to be humble about and improve on without throwing away your confidence in the process. I’m still on that journey, along with every person I admire. It would be a miracle if I went a week without noticing something that I could do better, and that keeps me fairly grounded. This works even better if you stick around people who are honest and genuine enough to point this out too.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you’ve read this far, then you’re either a business owner or a soon-to-be business owner. Create something beautiful that makes the world a better place, and if you’re ever in Byron Bay, we can chat about it over a coffee.

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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