1)What inspired you to start your business?
My passion has always been in sustainable sourcing having worked in coffee and cocoa traceability, travelling frequently to coffee origins and building relationships with coffee producers for 5 years. I also enjoyed home roasting and flavour profiling, so in 2016 I setup Chimney Fire Coffee, a startup aiming to close the gap between producers and consumers by sourcing direct, supplying freshly roasted speciality coffee locally, and providing more information on coffee provenance, including farming practices, quality processes and handling of speciality coffee.
2) What issues have you overcome since you began your startup journey?
Balancing cashflow and growth have been challenging at times, particularly with relatively high capital upfront costs. Personal investment and our Startup Direct start up loan has enabled us to upscale capacity to a new, larger roaster and new premises.
3) What successes have you had recently?
Starting small and growing organically enabled us to try different methods of promoting our product and brand. We began running coffee experiences and soon became one of the pilot hosts for Airbnb’s Experiences initiative. ‘The Labin Coffee Tour’ has helped build the business through increasing exposure of our ethical sourcing ethos and indirect opportunities, such as exporting our products and TV filming. Find our more here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/983
4) What are your plans for the next 5 years?
First and foremost we want to continue to work with local businesses in south west London and Surrey. We have an exciting 5 year strategy, expanding the business by finding innovative markets, enabling coffee drinkers to understand the characteristics of their coffee and access sustainable, high grade coffee on demand. We will continue to increase our range of products, directly sourcing coffee from new origins and scaling up our well received seasonal cold brew.
5) What did Startup Direct teach you about starting up a business and the different types of funding for startups?
Startup Direct provided a competitive alternative to the more traditional funding methods, such as bank loans. The support and mentoring they offer means that businesses can get the required unsecured funding in a short time frame.
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