Thinking about starting your own company? My advice, work behind the bar in a coffee shop. When you work in a coffee shop you develop a tactile appreciation for your product, finance, and customer you serve. I worked for a coffee shop and loved every minute of it. That experience formed the foundation for my startup skill set. Lessons I am truly grateful for learning. 

The Perfect Place to Learning about Startup Excellence

Coffee Shops: The Startup’s Best Apprentice Space

It all begins with your product – the experience. You thought I was going to say coffee! The audience needs to feel comfortable with every aspect of your product. You sell your product. The customer experiences your product. Our service and food quality is the foundation for a comfortable and reliable experience. Let me tell you that the people I worked with and love to this day created our experience. It was impossible to duplicate. In the common startup vernacular it was our “secret sauce”.

Transition sentence. You see everyday what sells and when it sells. Who makes the purchase and why they are buying. Those data sets are tucked into every P&L sheet. However, putting the tactile experience together with counting out the till and reading P&L’s is like fuel the financial soul.

Do you know your customer? In a past life, I consulted for a company that produces “Growth Mindset” video supplement for computer science courses intended to reduce attrition in the STEM major. The founder, a veteran of Cengage loved telling me this punchline,”nobody cares about the student.” I never got it. Care about the patron – the regular person who is consuming your experience. Learn what drives them. A coffee shop is a good place to begin that path. It begins with a friendly, “How are you doing? What can I get you?” And ends with a affirming, “Let me make you a no foam latte. It’s called a flat white. Would like a shot of hazelnut with it?

I learned how to feel and respond to data. The people, the coffee, the environment all connected. The simplicity of serving customers, exchanging money, and making the product forces you to concentrate on the rudiments of business.

Maybe it’s the espresso talking. I think I’ll have another.


Paul Mosca founder of Protagonist Lab. MA Social Science, Essex University. Business ideation and execution consultant. Avid reader. Loves playing the drums. Information Technology is only as interesting as the people it serves.