Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gabriel Bloch, CBDO of Quokka Brew, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Quokka Brew is the market's first caffeinated jitter-less oat milk latte, offering a healthy and sustainable source of energy without those unwanted jitters and midday crashes. These ready-to-drink oat milk lattes are fully vegan, organic, only 5 grams of sugar and 60 calories, and have the same amount of caffeine as a cup and half of coffee. By brewing in the active ingredients found in green tea and matcha with our fair trade low acidity cold brew, you will feel the calming and soothing effects of tea paired with the uplifting energy of coffee. Since university students and young professionals tend to be prone to the negative side effects of caffeine, they are the ones that make up our loyal and lively Quokka community.
Tell us about yourself
I am a first-generation San Diego native born to two South African parents. I grew up surfing, playing soccer, and, as I got a bit older, drinking loads of coffee. It was only during my third year at UC Berkeley when I realized just how jittery and anxious I was getting from my daily cup of coffee (ok, maybe my daily 3 cups of coffee), not to mention the crash of energy just an hour or so after consumption. While studying for finals, I noticed that the more coffee I drank, the less productive I actually was. Like a lot of other students, I drank it anyway, sacrificing my mental and physical health. I approached a few friends of mine, and they said they were experiencing the exact same thing. They were also drinking extremely unhealthy ready-to-drink coffees and energy drinks packed with sugar and other nasty ingredients that we couldn't even pronounce. It was at that moment that we came together, working with chemists and food scientists for a solution. It was only after six months of testing ourselves and our good friends that we came away with our revolutionary jitter-less blend. Wasting no time, we started giving it out the very next day just to our friends and friends of friends. It became very clear that we had a great product on our hands when they came back for seconds with a whole host of people that they referred.
My motivation to continue down this entrepreneurial path stems from the fact that there are still so many people out there that are struggling with the negative side effects of caffeine but continue to struggle because they are unaware that there is a better alternative. I have gotten feedback from countless students and young professionals that say how our jitter-less lattes have changed their lives for the better. I will continue to work to bring my solution to others so they, too, can feel what it is like to be energized without suffering the jittery and anxious consequences.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Since founding Quokka Brew, my biggest accomplishment has been successfully bringing our jitter-less oat milk lattes to university student stores across California. Within the last few months, we have launched at UC San Diego, Cal Poly SLO, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and many more. By making our jitter-less and crash-less coffee more accessible to students, our mission of providing energy to students without the negative side effects of caffeine feels much closer to reality. We are now working on launching at over 20 more college campuses throughout the US this upcoming school year and will not stop until our lattes are stocked on every major campus in America. But why stop there, right?
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things to do as a small business owner is figuring out how to allocate resources on a very limited budget. The question I ask myself while making any decision is, what is the opportunity cost of this allocation of resources (money and time)? Is this allocation of funds going to generate the most revenue? Is this a worthy niche to be investing my time in? Being an entrepreneur really is just being a prolific problem solver. Each day comes with a new set of problems and a new set of solutions. If your solutions are good, you will watch your business grow. If your solutions are bad.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My top three tips for anyone looking to start their own company are, first and foremost, to be passionate. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, you cannot hope to be at it for the long haul, and trust me; these things take A LOT of time. Second, make sure your product/service is actually something that others will want. The best way to test this is by developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). And finally, don't be married to your initial idea. A good entrepreneur listens very carefully to their customers and pivots based on feedback.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
At the end of the day, the most important thing (and I know this sounds cliche) is to have fun. You obviously are not always going to be having fun, but if you find yourself despising your work, it will show in your product/service. In becoming an entrepreneur, you are offering the world something new. Let that thing be something that creates value for everyone that uses it.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.