Updated: Aug 7, 2018
This week officially marks 6 months of “Progress” for The Black Coffee Company. For those of you who have been following us since the beginning, thank you so much for your support. Know that we are truly blessed to have you with us along this journey. For those of you just learning about us, welcome to the party lol. I promise it will be interesting and engaging.
Gino and I attended middle school together, 3 of us went to high school together, and all 5 of us attended Xavier University of Louisiana during the early 2000's. Our shared story truly spans more than twenty years, but for the sake of your attention spans we’ll keep this blog focused on the last 3 years....
In May of 2015, our collective gathered in Detroit, MI to attend the hooding ceremony of our brother and dear friend. It was during this trip that our group came to a mutual realization. We had enjoyed our many experiences traveling the world together but our united strength and resources could be better utilized by uniting as a team, dedicated to helping each member fully realize our mutual aspirations. This realization was sparked by a trip to the Motown museum, where we learned how Berry Gordy’s parents created a family run savings and loan that pooled their families resources. This financial investment became the vehicle Berry Gordy used to launch his now world famous and legendary record label Motown. If the Gordy’s could do this in the 1930s & 40s, the thought was surely our group of lifelong friends, educated by one the most prestigious universities in the world could accomplish a similar feat in 2015.
In August of 2015, 7 of us officially came together to begin working on this concept, a platform that would help us achieve our individual goals, while also empowering our communities. As you can imagine, when you get 7 progressive minded black men in a room, there will be a lot of lively discussions. I still look back fondly on those early days wondering how we turned all that noise into a single focused voice...
We discussed many different ideas and concepts for what our organization could become. We all committed serious time and effort meeting together and researching: Business Ideas, Non-Profits, Blogs, Empowerment Groups, Investment Clubs and other similarly focused successful entities. Throughout this process, we challenged each other and motivated each other. We have been blessed with the ability to stay connected to each other, while living all across the United States, working in 7 very different industries, with 7 distinct personalities and outlooks on life. My prevailing thought has always been that this is our unique strength, our rare value that would one day be embraced by the world. Now while I loved the value our diverse environments brought to the table, this also proved to be our biggest challenge, working together and staying the same page, when we are all in different states and time zones.
By October of 2015, we had settled on the idea of an investment club. The idea was simple, whatever goals we end choosing as a team, we will need financial capital in order to fully pursue and develop them. So let's pool our financial resources with monthly membership dues and continue to grow by researching the economic markets and investing. Not only would we focus on becoming financially free from debt and free from jobs that did not fulfill, we could teach/share the information we were learning back to our communities, so they too could become financially free.
In January of 2016 we officially launched the vehicle affectionately known as BPi, “Back Pack Investments LLC.” By April of 2016, only 4 of the original 7 remained. As with all groups and teams of people, issues arose, some foreseen and some unforeseen. I won’t comment my thoughts on the reasons why the members chose to leave, I will just say that they were missed. The rest of 2016 the 4 founders remaining dedicated our time to learning about all forms of financial investments. We met bi-monthly, set meeting agendas, kept minutes, pooled our money, shared our lives with each other and invested in the stock market.
Our investment strategy was very basic, each member was assigned a economic sector (Utilities, Technology, Healthcare, etc) that they would be responsible for following and preparing research to bring back to the meetings. Once or twice a quarter we would decide which areas seemed lucrative over the long term, and would then proceed to buy ETFs and individuals stocks that we had singled out. This approach while new and uncommon to us, proved to be very successful. Not only were we bonding as friends through our consistent meetings, but we were growing our financial acumen and building the foundation of our current business.
By March of 2017, #BPi had become an integral part of our daily lives. Not only were having, bi-weekly meetings, we were having daily “GroupMe” discussions about the financial markets, and starting to attract people interested in what we were building. Naturally we began inviting guests from our vast network to come share opportunities or words of wisdom and to learn more about we were creating.
I knew our group had reached a new level, when one of our Brothers who had left, shared with me his desire to rejoin us. He could no longer bare not being able to share in the bond we had built, and realized that while he left due to feeling he wasn’t being heard, he could accomplish more with us than without. Knowing this we devoted more time to listening to each other and strengthening our relationships. We embraced this Brother back into fold and we continued to march forward, now with a renewed sense of purpose. Our team had experienced some success, but we hungered to be more, to do more for community, and reach out and touch everyone in our networks.
In August of 2017 it was decided that it was time for us to take the next step in our development as a team. With our investment group serving as our foundation, we could now launch a full scale business enterprise. We agreed that to truly have a global impact empowering people in all communities, we must first demonstrate a “formula for success” model or “cheat code” for our communities. Achieving financial freedom is meaningless if you are alone when you reach that goal. As the Jay-Z quote goes, “over here we measure success by how many people successful next to you, here we say you broke if everybody is broke except for you.”
Many people in the communities we come from, are barely making it in life, living paycheck to pay check, or worse relying sole on government aid for support. There are a few, who are blessed with talents and opportunities that allow them to “get it out the mud” and create their own empowerment, but those who do make it up and out, often find themselves alone, or in rooms where no one looks like them or comes from where they come from. Meanwhile people who did not grow up with means, or could not for various reasons pull themselves up, are left to succumb to the harsh realities of their environments. How can these people become financially free? How do we support them and provide opportunities for empowerment? .....By combining Financial Freedom and Entrepreneurship, thats how! A true “formula for success” or “cheat code.”
Teaching people how to manage and invest their finances is noble, teaching people how to then use those finances to empower others is a blessing!! Those of us who have reached a modicum of financial stability know that finances without happiness or passion, is just another responsibility. To be truly “Happy or Free” we must pursue our dreams, engage our passions, and support others who want to do the same. We agreed that we needed to create a self sustaining business enterprise, and the next steps came very fast.
Our team went back to our lab discussing and developing business ideas. We doubled up on our meetings, and began surveying our networks looking for the concept that appealed to our personal interests while allowing the most room for long term growth. One morning during our routine weekend meetings, an epiphany was discovered. Not sure if it was the realization that we were all drinking a variation of the same beverage or if it was something else more divine, either way the answer we had been looking for, had been there all along, present at every single meeting, Coffee.
In December of 2017, after a rigorous debate our team settled upon the idea to sell fresh organic coffee beans and coffee supplies, to both consumers and businesses. Coffee is a global commodity, #2 behind oil, it is in constant demand, and the industry is growing. Not only did we realize that "Coffee gets a seat in every business meeting," but it is also the currency most frequently used to share ideas and concepts, boost productively, and encourage conversation.
In February of this year, an email was sent to a select group of family and friends announcing the public soft launch of “The Black Coffee Company,” a link to our website was included, along with note, that read:
“Black Coffee" is no ordinary coffee brand, but instead it is way of life, a mindset, a new cultural phenomenon that has embraced the mentalities of the old and championed the ways of the youth. We invest in people and ideas, that boldly push our society forward, while staying true to the legacy we stand upon.”
6 months later, I confidently say that we have not only lived up this statement, but that we have surpassed my early expectations. Our customers and supporters have been amazing, sales have been steady, we have new opportunities to partner being presented almost daily, and we have found steady inspiration to reach higher and higher. Everything hasn't been perfect, we have had disagreements, and find ourselves constantly reevaluating our current position and trajectory. But truthfully at worse, we have “failed forward.” Every misstep or miscommunication has been leveraged as a another opportunity for real growth and understanding.
We have deepened our bonds as brothers, and grown as businessmen and community leaders. All while building the #BlackCoffee brand, a true lifelong passion that we have collectively supported and promoted. To me, that is the true definition of Progress!
3 years of work, 6 months of progress, and lifetime to go!!