On a gloomy Seattle morning in the late 80s, Jay Sorenson ordered a cup of coffee from drive through.
As the server handed him the coffee she warned “it’s really hot!” and Jay casually grabbed it. By the time the cup was in his car, he could no longer hold on to the cup and the coffee spilled all over his main equipment.
Few years later when a new coffee shop called Starbucks was taking Seattle by storm, Jay noticed people gingerly holding on to their cups of coffee and switching it from hand to hand because it was too hot.
Jay was reminded of his painful experience and had a moment of inspiration.
He began tinkering with old cardboard and came up with a coffee sleeve design.
Next, he found an attorney and trademarked the design and name – Java Jackets.
Soon he paid a visit to Starbucks offices and pitched them on his idea. But after six months of talks, no deal.
He figured that it was hard to sell something that he did not have. So he found a local manufacturer, took out a loan and placed an order for 250,000 jackets for $10,000.
Once his java jackets had arrived, he went to the offices of the same coffee store where he suffered those sensitive burns back in the 80s.
He met the CEO and showed him the sleeves, who bought his entire stock of 250K right away.
And that’s how Jay Sorenson went from broke to millionaire a few years later.
Although Jay’s story is different from e-commerce players, what’s key is that he kept investing in his idea and business.
Plenty of people have suffered burns from hot coffee. But few thought of a solution. Even fewer hired a lawyer to trademark a solution. And fewer still borrowed $10,000 to order a batch.
Ideas and dreams take all kinds of investing of sweat, tears, sleep, money and time. As you all well know.
One of the investments you can make, is in your customers.
Invest in them with great service and a rewards program.