Name: Harley from Lynsey.
Old age: 35.
What is your company name?
The Traditional Modern Coffee.
Where it’s based.
Glenrothes and Edinburgh (where we’re going to open a Bruntsfield café soon).
What is it making, what services is it offering?
We supply and deal with specialty coffees from quality-conscious suppliers in an ethical and transparent manner. We roast these coffees, sometimes holding them as roots, sometimes mixing them together for espresso, and we market them to coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, offices, and people at home.
To whom do you sell your coffee?
We are currently selling through our online web store in Sainsburys, and through tiny farm shops and delis throughout Scotland. Yet cafes, restaurants and hotels are our key distribution channel. We sell to coffee shops in the UK, and in Europe as well.
What is the turnover of theirs?
2,5 million kilos.
We supply hospitality companies, which include restaurant chains, cafes and aparthotels, with coffee. Some of our clients closed briefly in March, some reopened at the beginning of June, and some have plans to reopen in 2021. It has been fantastic to see the government provide restaurants, supermarkets, cafes, hotels, etc. given funding in the form of tax relief for companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000, but the supply chain for these businesses was forgotten. Fortunately, we have been able to rapidly decrease costs and have remained profitable throughout. Combined with an insane rise in demand for our online web store, supplying a major UK supermarket and exporting to Europe really helped us stay busy and reduce the number of employees I had to leave. We also delayed investments and accelerated releases of new goods, so we were compelled to make fast choices. Looking back, I hope I can tell that I have made the correct choices.
How many workers have you got?
We currently have a team of 16.
When was the company founded?
I believe I happened to roast our first batch of coffee on International Women’s Day (March 8) in March 2015, but at the time I didn’t know it, I was just so excited about getting started.
Why did the plunge take you?
There were no companies I wanted to work for in the coffee industry, so I decided to start a business I knew, and happily 15 others wanted to work for as well.
What were you doing before you hit the plunge?
I had a six-month break from my last job (selling green coffee to other coffee roasters), but not only does it happen to start a company, before you can get started, a lot of things have to fall into place.
How did you raise the money for the start-up?
I borrowed money from my mother (she gave me her whole pension, but at the time I didn’t know it), a little more money from my lawyers (thanks Lesley & Michael!), a bank loan, and some savings I had. I essentially scraped a six-figure amount together and vouched for the money personally, so I had quite a bit of drive to make things work.
What has been your greatest success?
I signed a retail agreement with Sainsburys after six months and then had other small to medium sized clients, so I had a good selection of clients. I just kept driving, and not until three years later did I look back. I worked insane hours, which I probably don’t want to admit, but it was a little addictive.
What do you love most about running a business?
The thrill and relentlessness of it. The harder I work, the more I get back, and it’s not just financially, but it can be the little things, like helping a colleague grow and develop and rewarding them for it, to people calling and telling you they like your product. I once got an email from my old math teacher Mrs. Mackay telling me she heard about my company and was very proud of me, and that was nice.
What do you enjoy the least?
The fact that I have a hard time shutting down. I have a very active mind and have to think about things all the time. I think that’s an advantage in some ways, but also frustrating when I’m trying to relax and then I think of something I haven’t done yet.
What are your ambitions for the company?
Global coffee dominance. I like to think big 🙂