Start Up Blog

A mist of innovation

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 10, 2014

Today is a hot day in Melbourne 34 degrees celsius or 93.2 degrees fahrenheit. It seems though it is never too hot to retail coffee in our fair city of Melbourne. Looking for a java fix I quickstepped down to the nearest caffeine haunt in docklands. I happened upon a new outfit called Cafenatics. Their coffee and food were both good. Their outdoor air conditioning was the total bomb. I freaking loved it.

They had set up a nice water misting system in both their outdoor dining area and even inside. It was just perfectly soft so that you didn’t feel wet, just cooled down. So amazing, I tweeted about it, posted in on Foursquare and even made the effort to write this and share some pictures of it (below). A simple idea I’ve never seen before.

The thing I like just as much is that this is clearly not a new technology…. the Romans probably invented it. Proving again that innovation is an attitude and there are probably a thousand low cost ways any of us could employ tomorrow to wow people. This certainly got me talking.

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cafenatics 2

cafenatics 3- – -

The curious thing is that, their coffee is what I came for, and their mist cooling system is the story I left with.

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Good service? Prove it

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 3, 2011

Yesterday I went to a well known cafe in Melbourne for breakfast. Yes, it had a amazing the decor of a restored warehouse and exotic free range egg combinations, but that wasn’t what impressed me. It was the way they served their ‘non-customers’.

By the time we where half way through our second java a line had started to build for people waiting for a table, which is pretty rare in a cafe centric city like Melbourne. Up until that time the thriving restaurant still had amazingly quick service. But the service I was most impressed with was the service they gave those who weren’t even customers. People waiting patiently outside were treated to complimentary cafe lattes and flat whites. I’m sure they were surprised and delighted at the good will gesture. The tone of the staff there also told me that they gave them coffee because they were genuinely sorry they couldn’t seat them immediately. They meant it, and it wasn’t a promotional ploy. Something we’d never see from a chains store or large corporate. They’d be more concerned with wooing ‘non-customers’ that rewarding their ‘sure bets’. I say they’ve got it back to front.

The reality of the complimentary coffee is that it sent out a good vibe, and cost very little to do. And the benefits? Well I’m already blogging about it and put it on my twitter stream which goes to many thousands. I’d also say that rewarding those you’ve already got, is a far better investment than investing in those who’ve never helped your business. Something all startups should take note of.

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The art of iteration – coffee

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 17, 2010

Iterating in business is an art form. It’s how we grow and find a path to establish the features that matter. It’s not about more, it’s about finding what works, which means that as we morph and change, certain features must be sacrificed, left or or purposely cut off. Nature exemplifies this. Nature takes time to roll out new features, and is well prepared to sacrifice old ones which no longer pay their way. Nature takes years to develop the perfect mix, but is in a constant state of evolution.

The coffee market has been one of the most interesting category evolutions we’ve seen in the past decade or so. Especially given the drink has been around thousands of years. What’s most interesting is that it was a commodity market at brand and retail level for the largest part of the past 60 years. Granules in a tin which one mixes with boiling hot water. Large brands then competed on price with occasional soapie style advertising.

Enter coffee culture and in 15 short years everything has changed. Coffee isn’t coffee anymore. Coffee is latte, coffee is short machiato, coffee is espresso, coffee is arabica versus robusta. But it evolved slowly, and the latest trend in coffee drenched Melbourne is cold dripped coffee. The point for startups is simple: we can’t go from Nescafe blend 43 straight to cold drip coffee. We have to take people on a journey with us, chapter by chapter. Shown below is another photo essay of  a coffee haunt on little Collins Street Melbourne called Sensory Lab.

The question for entrepreneurs is what industry can we invent a journey to take people on?

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Don’t be this person.

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 19, 2009

I had this discussion yesterday. I walked past a hole in the wall cafe. (Tiny cafe which serves take away and stand up coffee in inner city area)

Friend: Wasn’t Joey going to open a business like that?

Me: Yeh, I remember him talking about it before I had even seen one of these in the city.

Friend: What happened to it?

Me: I don’t know, I guess he just didn’t get around to it in the end. Got distracted.

Friend: That’s a shame, looks like a good little business model. What’s he doing now?

Me: He’s in the same job.

Friend: Oh. Ok.

We keep walking …

hole in the wall cafe

Don’t be Joey. It at least try and fail. The old job will be waiting for you if you have to return.

Picture 117

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