Updated: Dec 4, 2018
by Joshua Dew
Several years ago before Vagrant was a reality, I had the pleasure of serving coffee for someone, who would later serve me in a substantial way that was unimaginable at that time. I was working for another company as a barista while doing my best to have meaningful interactions with customers as they came in for coffee. I really had no idea where these conversations would lead. She and I had only small chit chat type conversations when I was her Barista about my ideas with Vagrant and what I imagined it could be. Our talks were mostly short lived as life shifted for her and she relocated. However, as fate would have it, she would be continuing to work in Baltimore as a professor at the John’s Hopkins Carey Business School.
About 8 months later, Vagrant was now a reality. She reached out and asked if we would be interested in taking part in an Advanced Design Thinking course at the Carey Business School. I was very excited and jumped at the opportunity. Our involvement in this course took place over 3 days and gave the class participants the opportunity to answer 2 key challenges that Vagrant faces today: 1. How do we increase market-share in Baltimore without sacrificing a high touch approach to coffee delivery and 2. how do we educate consumers about third wave coffee and our company’s way of delivering that product.
We dove in together and realized that opportunities within the realm of education existed both inside and outside of our company. We brainstormed and diagrammed these strengths, opportunities and challenges, and came up with solid ideas to implement moving forward. We identified both implicit and explicit ways to equip and educate our community in the process.
We started by addressing the educational journey of our barista. Because our platform will require the barista to also be the driver, we identified that there is no equipment that the barista will need to provide that will not already be embedded in our system. Additionally, any equipment brought by the barista will likely slow down our processes as space is limited in our vehicles and increases the chance that additional issues will surface. This simplifies our process and allows us to control the entire educational pipeline. Additionally, we identified ways to create a digital training platform that will educate both the barista as well as consumer if they seek to know additional information.
Implicitly, we realized that there are overlaps between what we desire the barista to know and feel that will also exist for our consumer. We identified three things that serve as a constant educator, call to action, and descriptor of how our services work. This kind of tool would be a major part of our face and branding of our company and will hopefully create buzz and excitement as well.
Ultimately, collaborating with the John’s Hopkins Carey Business school has given Vagrant Coffee the opportunity to flow its ideas through the minds of 20 highly analytical business thinkers and expand our perspectives and problem solving capacities beyond our current team of 5. By saving us time in thought and energy they served as a catalyst for helping us reach our fuller potential. In doing so, they embodied the essence of what it means to “fuel the hustle.” What we hope to achieve for others in this blog, they were able to achieve for us in real-time. If there is one final piece of advice I would give anyone with an idea and a working model, it would be to get it out there. Connect with the right people to test it, give you feedback, and help save you some of the unnecessary pain of sorting out all of the solutions by yourself. Invite others to come alongside of you in order to fuel your hustle in the right direction.