Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Olivia vonNieda, CEO & founder of Kavnia Coffee, an innovative cold drip coffee company located in Chicago, Illinois.

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

Kavnia Coffee is a sustainable cold drip coffee company powered by women. We use our patent-pending brewing system, dripping water drop by drop over coffee grounds for many hours to highlight the flavors of specialty coffee beans. We sell our coffee concentrate, which is 3x stronger than traditional cold brew and takes 15 seconds to prepare at home. We use just two ingredients: organic coffee and water. We sell to people who want great coffee they can feel great about. It's a delight for coffee nerds who want to try a new cold brew experience.

Tell us about yourself

It all started when I first tasted cold drip coffee. A classmate of mine from Harvard Business School walked 2 miles to try this coffee on a trip to New Orleans and instantly ordered a cold drip brewing device on amazon. It arrived broken, was three feet tall, and made of glass (not exactly appropriate for him and his wife, who were expecting a baby). I dusted off my engineering skills and set to making a brewing device that was more convenient and reliable.

After two years of working on the device, it's patent-pending, and we are selling cold drip coffee concentrate online and in grocery stores.

Apart from being a coffee lover myself, it's important to me for my business to support women. I'm always looking for ways to be a better intersectional feminist, so building a business that integrates women into all aspects of our supply chain and company is very fulfilling.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Hands down - hiring and mentoring a great team. I truly believe that the people behind a business make or break it, so this has been a joy to build.

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

Separating personal time from working time. Since it's my own company, I always feel like I can be doing more or working harder. A few months ago, I really overstretched myself and got a little burned out. I learned that it's a marathon, not a sprint, so while it is important to keep things moving, I need to take care of my personal space and time.

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

  1. Be obsessed with the customer. Design every aspect of the product/experience to bring moments of joy.
  2. Figure out how to do quick, cheap tests. Even if you have money to throw at a problem, try to solve it cheaply and quickly. The creativeness involved is usually rewarding.
  3. Leverage software solutions. There are so many great tools out there to save time (calendly, shipstation, etc.), and they can free up your time to focus on what matters.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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