Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Hai Nguyen, Founder of The Shed Coffee, located in Charlottetown, PE, Canada.

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

With the vision of erasing the border between coffee beans and coffee lovers, we strive to act more than just coffee, roasting and brewing better coffee every day. We serve all kinds of coffee lovers and bigger communities here in PEI and across the country.

Tell us about yourself

With 15 years of experience working in marketing and advertising as a strategic planner, now is the time for me to be my true self by transferring my creativity and energy into coffee.

For me, specialty coffee is difficult, complicated, but extremely interesting. I always work full of creativity and energy, being a roaster and a brewer. It is extremely fun to play around with your senses, creating interesting roasting and brewing profiles, even the blending of different beans. Everything starts with your senses and the ability to understand the beans as well as the taste preference of customers. Also, it is important to retell the stories behind the beans to our coffee lovers. You are definitely a creator in every single aspect of working in coffee. This motivates me to wake up early every day being a Cinderella while being a strategic thinker :).

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Being my true self, doing what I love and love what I do. Also, I am happy to see there are quite a lot of young adult people who have a passion for the specialty coffee industry here in PEI. I may not be a solopreneur anymore since there are always great partners, baristas, and roasters around who wanted to give me a hand and join the team.

We do have big progress in opening the second location in Charlottetown Library Learning Center within the first year of operation. We are expanding the team from 2 to 12 members. Plus, we are proud to produce two signature products which are canned cold brew KOOLBREW and drip bag coffee. These are other directions of the business up-scaling to serve the wider coffee lover communities, not just in PEI.

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

Losing direction in the middle of nowhere especially being a solopreneur. Choosing the right moment to change the business mode from survival to success. Having a work-life balance.

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

  1. Despite the big or small labor, do it well or not at all.
  2. Always empower. Empowering is the key to building a great team moving in the same direction with the company.
  3. Be patient with yourself. Be ready to be a great person who does not dare to be great someday. Soon it is going to happen after a lot of sleepless nights, tons of fear, and loneliness.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Just because you are a solopreneur does not mean you have to work on everything on your own. Try to find support from as many different resources as possible! You will never know that someday, your clients may become perfect partners. Also, if you could not sell all the blueberry pies at the end of the day, “there is nothing wrong with the pie, just people make other choices.” All you need to do is be resilient and reflect again the tips above.

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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