Ever thought about chucking your job in and opening a coffee shop? Well, we’ve interviewed a man who did exactly that. Read on for our exclusive Q&A with the co-founder of Notes Coffee.
Robert Robinson, more commonly known as Rob, partnered with coffee connoisseur Fabio Ferreira, an experienced Marion Goulden & Alan to create Notes Coffee.
Notes is now a fast growing coffee shop & uniquely operate as a wine bar in the evenings. They have 9 prime central London locations and growing!
Starting from a humble coffee cart in a cobbled street market, we now source and roast our own single-origin coffee, serving over a whopping 1.4 million cups a year!
What gets you out of bed in the morning (except for coffee)?
More coffee! Being able to take a decision and see an instant impact is also very rewarding. Motivation is not usually an issue when you run your own business – too much skin in the game!
Did you always know you wanted to be self-employed? If so, why?
I didn’t always know, but after a brief stint in a large organisation, I realised it wasn’t for me.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in east London, my parents both worked in the NHS although both their parents were entrepreneurs in different ways, so it was in the family. I was quite academic – studying PPE at Oxford – but none of the traditional graduate jobs appealed, so I set up a coffee stall in a market and never looked back.
What is the best thing about Notes and what is the USP?
Our coffee is some of the best around. My business partner Fabio sources from only the best coffee farms around the world, and develops a roasting recipe for each crop to ensure we get the most from each bean. We strive to deliver the most delicious drinks in store, with a warm and friendly service. We’re also open late, serving craft beer, cocktails, and interesting wines, which is also a USP for a coffee brand.
Are you scared of failure? Why?
Financial failure is scary, both personally and for fear of letting our investors down. Each new venue we open is an anxious moment – you never really know how it will go until people start to walk in on the first morning.
What would you say to somebody who is thinking to go self-employed but isn’t sure?
Do it! But also, be prepared for a difficult start, and be aware that financially it can be tough.
What’s the first bit of advice you’d give to someone who’s thinking of starting their own business?
Try to start small, so the risk isn’t too great. In hospitality, the street food scene has been great for this, allowing people to get started without too much capital. The early years will always provide a lot of learning – so doing that without risking too much is a good idea.
What characteristics does a startup entrepreneur require to succeed?
Relentless positivity helps!? Resilience, the ability to be a bit of an all-rounder.
How crucial is it to have a website designed well and it’s accompanying online presence?
What’s an unexpected way to grow your customer base?
Street-team! Never underestimate the power of good old-fashioned flyering.