From the top · 5 October 2017

He launched 90 Subway restaurants, but now it’s cold brew coffee for this entrepreneur

Josh Thompson cold brew coffee
Josh Thompson has swapped foot-long sandwiches for cold brew coffee
Despite being one of the first people to bring sandwich chain Subway to the UK, Josh Thompson was in need of a new challenge so set up his own cold brew coffee brand.

The benefit of franchising is that you’re able to leverage the efforts of something pre-existing and grow your own part of that. Once credibility and market interest have been proven, there is the opportunity to buy into the concept and take it to new locations.

However, there is always the nagging sense thatthe brand you’re helping to build is not your own. No matter how far you’re able to take it, how much credit can ever be taken for success?

Subway Restaurant UK
Subway plans to have over 3, 000 locations in the UK and Ireland by 2020
Josh Thompson had lived the franchisee business life for more than a decade, serving as a master franchise for Subway and opening 90 restaurants in the North of England. However, while it was always his plan to move on from it, his move into the world of coffee was more serendipity than strategy.

I met someone with a children’s charity in Ethiopia who said theyd set up a green coffee export business but hadnt sold any, he told Real Business.

theyasked if I was interested, so I went home and started looking into coffee. I just fell in love with it and knew what I wanted to do next was coffee.

Hisbean-based adventure eventually transported him into the world of cold brew coffee, something that was taking off in North America but wasnt as well known in the UK or Europe.

Point Black cold brew coffee
The branding reflects the simple nature of the product
there was an emerging cold brew market in artisan coffee shops, but nothing commercial, he said. The biggest part of what weve had to do is the education piece what is cold brew coffee

As many well-known entrepreneurs have done before him, Thompson got his hands dirty and began brewing up cold brew coffee from his kitchen with help coming in the shape of his two year-old daughter. It was about getting it cleaner and cleaner, before finding a receptive local brewery which set aside a corner of the site and provide equipment. Then we could make bigger batches.

For someone who’s previous business involved a big menu and many different moving parts ingredient-wise, Thompson’s cold brew coffee brand, Point Blank, is incredibly simple. Shorn are the extra ingredients that go into other iced coffee offerings, his consists simply of coffee and water. However, to put its potency into context, a 250ml serving packs the same caffeine content as two cans of Red Bull or two double espressos.

Thompson wanted a product with no sugar, no fat, no additives or preservatives, and only one calorie. This, he believed, would allow his company to expand and target the sports and energy drink category.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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