Tim Colledge, founder of coffee brand ü:who, talks to about how his business blends his love of great coffee and great music together.
Tell us about your business?
As a young child holidaying in Cornwall, I always loved the idea of having a coffee shop after wandering up from a day on the beach to buy an ice cream at the nearby shop overlooking the bay. My initial studying took me into healthcare, however the dream never left me.
Before the pandemic I had started to explore the options for how to run a coffee shop to start having a goal to work towards. However, once the pandemic hit this changed. During a few days of sitting in the garden during the spring lockdown of 2020, several ideas and conversations came into my mind as clear as day. The concept was born and research started on how to bring it all together. Within the month – the website and first product was being sold. As founder of ü:who, I have creatively brought about from concept, sourcing and securing the supply chain, design of infrastructure and being involved every step from bean to cup.
What is your point of difference?
We believe that doing the right thing shouldn’t be a USP, using eco-friendly packaging and paying a fair wage should just be the norm. We want to focus on allowing our community to enjoy coffee, music and the growing community of customers – knowing that our business is always looking to be better and fairer. We want to build a brand that is responsible towards its customers and the planet we inhabit.
How do you spread the word about your business?
We have predominantly spread by word of mouth. We have been fortunate to appear within the National Press within 6 months of trading. We are now putting together our social media and online marketing campaigns, with a brand-new website replacing the original website which I built myself. It feels a lot more grown up – but it needs to be done. As things open, we want to start getting out and about visiting some independent hospitality businesses and onboard more businesses as well as growing our direct consumers.
How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Like a lot of people, it has been up and down. Times where we have seen growth of 120% and then the following month crashing. Being a self-funding start-up during a pandemic in a competitive space has been quite the learning curve.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business?
Getting in front of people. I know people will love our coffee. They will enjoy reading our newsletters and blogs and hopefully understand what we are trying to achieve as a business and community. However, it is a competitive space.
Have you received any financial support for your business?
We are entirely self-funded by my healthcare work, which during the pandemic has often involved very long hours as I returned to provide support to the NHS from previously working in the private sector. We have received no financial support beyond the bounce back loan at this point.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Getting trusted contacts. The supply chain, marketing, accountants. The normal things. There has been a lot of learning and wrong decisions made. However, the team is building and now we are hoping to continue gaining momentum.
What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?
Taking the leap of faith. Sometimes you just have to take a chance.
No. Always learning opportunities. I have definitely made mistakes, however, I have made decisions quickly to make sure they didn’t affect us any longer or expose us to unnecessary risk.
What are your three golden rules for success?
Know your limits.
Find good and knowledgeable people and surround yourself with them.
Listen to your customer.
What’s next for your business?
Growing our offering and customer base. There are lots of new coffees coming along the way in the future for special ‘guest stars’ as well as growing our merchandise offering too.