Caffeinating Sand Hill Road

Having a business on Sand Hill Road just opens up all sorts of possibilities to fledgling entrepreneurs.

Close proximity to a boatload of venture capital means that your brick-and-mortar may actually qualify for some of it, IF you can prove you have the right vision and strategy.

Case in point?  Blue Bottle Coffee.

The minimalist décor of a Blue Bottle café in Oakland, Calif. Courtesy of Clay McLachlan/Claypix.com

The minimalist décor of a Blue Bottle café in Oakland, Calif.
Courtesy of Clay McLachlan/Claypix.com

If you roast it, will they come?

Evidently.  In droves.

Venture capitalists love the next big thing. And hordes of caffeine-starved fans spell lots of $$$. But note that this isn’t a tech company.  There’s no app. It’s an EXPERIENCE. No ambiance to speak of…the cafes are very minimalist and bare, there is not a large assortment of supplemental products offered to customers (e.g. CDs, travel mugs, Kind Bars or cake pops)…no, it’s the consistency and quality that have raised millions of dollars in seed funding to bring a unique coffee experience to aficionados.

Like Apple, Blue Bottle assumes that the best customer experience is one in which all of the hard decisions have been made—correctly—in advance. (Genius Barista by Will Oremus, Slate).

You won’t find a Blue Bottle café on the corner of every metropolitan street or avenue.  The name is not ubiquitous.  Each café has its own look, nonconformist in layout but still comfortable and down to earth.  The exterior doesn’t scream GET YOUR COFFEE, HERE!!!  It’s quietly cool…muted.

But investors are taking notice.  It’ll be interesting to see how much the Blue Bottle vision changes over time as more and more money gets thrown at the venture.  Will they go mainstream?  Time will tell.

I Promise I’m Not An Author-Stalker!

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I’m a little bleary-eyed as I write this.  It’s been a looooong day for me.  I woke up at 4:00 AM because I couldn’t breathe (damn forced air).  Then I tossed and turned for about half an hour before I gave up on any hope of getting a few more winks. 

By that time, my mind was on high alert and I got the brilliant idea for a high drama scene in my second book (still sans title because I’m only on page 30).  I logged a few notes in my iPhone but it just didn’t suffice.  I needed to get the words out, right then.  So I got a cup of coffee and clacked away on my keyboard for an hour. 

I love it.  It’s rough, but has so much emotion.  I’ll go through it again tonight and make some tweaks.  Only one tiny issue. I’m not exactly sure where it fits into the overall timeline.  I have a million ideas surrounding it on both sides, but I don’t know how to position it in the story quite yet.  That will come.  But the scene can work in so many ways.  I’m so excited to figure out how best to use it.

Today was an ultra-busy day and the next few look just as full.  My energy is all but sapped by now, especially after yelling and screaming about homework.  But I got a bit of a second wind after dinner, so I Googled how to become a bestselling author.  Just to get some ideas.  =)

I came across a blog post by an bestselling author and social media guru named Kristen Lamb with tons of great sound bytes about the trade.  I was hooked.  So I followed her blog, followed her on Twitter, commented on her post, commented on another post, and then she followed me on Twitter!  After some more Tweeting and re-Tweeting, I bought her book on Amazon – Rise of the Machines:  Human Authors in a Digital World.  Awesome cover, Kristen!

Even though I have a Kindle, I bought the paperback.  Yes, I’m one of those people who like to make notes on the pages, fold them down, highlight passages and revisit as needed.  I need the hard copy for all that.  It’s just my thing.

Anyway, I hope she doesn’t think that I’m some wacko author-stalker.  I’m just happy to connect.  =)

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