Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mark Russell, Director of Khipu Coffee, located in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We sell specialty Peruvian coffee to roasters. We source direct from coffee producers and cooperatives in Peru, export it from Peru, and import it into the UK to sell to coffee roasters in the UK and Europe.
Tell us about yourself
During the pandemic, I decided to set up a business importing Peruvian coffee as I have family in Peru who could help with the export and logistics. I enjoy coffee a lot and knew that Peruvian coffee was a great opportunity because it's underdeveloped in comparison to Colombian and Brazilian coffee and has a lot of potential. I am motivated because this business means I can visit my family more in Peru and also help coffee producers increase their income.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Buying coffee from a coffee producer in Cajamarca, North Peru, who had never exported his coffee before, and no one had even visited his farm before. We purchased 250kg of this coffee and sold all of it to one roaster who is using this coffee to launch a new city centre coffee shop.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Having to know a little bit about everything. For coffee importing, there are a lot of logistics that are involved and hidden costs if you are not aware of them. From a marketing and sales perspective, not having a background in coffee makes it hard to sell directly to people because you have to start with a cold pitch and try to get an entry in. This takes perseverance and dedication to get in front of people and roasters to then try your coffee. The other part is making sure you are always creating content so that people can see and remember your brand. As a new business in a new industry, this comes with having to apply what you are learning really quickly, which can be challenging but also interesting.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You'll never know enough when you start, so just start and figure it out.
- Find someone who has done what you want to do but is only just a few steps ahead, don't find someone who did it 20 years ago, find someone who did it 2-3 years ago.
- Turn every opportunity and work experience into creating content that you can share on your website and social channels.
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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