Prior to #AndrewYang speaking/bringing attention to the 4th industrial revolution and automation, our small but large soul-ed brand, built from the ground up, was bringing attention to a new world of business without brick and mortar and what that may look like with so much automation in play. It was refreshing to hear a presidential candidate speak about the problems plaguing a generation and what needed to happen to keep small businesses in play without monopolies took over.
We wanted to take advantage of this new technology transformation any way we could, and make it work for not only us but our customers. What choice do we have in this world but to evolve and try to make these times work for all of us? This is a new era in entrepreneurship. There are more small business owners than ever. No matter how crazy we looked building a coffee company that was so much more, from scratch, we wanted to bring joy, a sense of connecting, and the inspiration of a coffee shop to your own home. We knew we could make it happen. And we do.
For coffee importers/roasters we knew we had to pave a new way forward that seemed insane to friends and family. They saw success as having a chain of coffee shops. We saw a web-shop that could connect with people to be their own barista and also fuel butterfly effects of change in an ever-changing world without leaving the security of home.
The west coast and it's innovative ways had a large role to play in this thinking. We saw first hand what automation was doing to housing, businesses and so much more. We saw the emergence of self driving cars, drone delivery. We witnessed Postmates, Uber, Door Dash, and cannabis delivery-- before they had formally launched country wide. We also witnessed the consequences of this transformation and what it meant for the world we were now evolving from. This meant job loss for many, new ways of living, and more people in need of help.
We knew much like Yang (an ordinary human with a giant heart and big picture thinking) that we were also headed into an altruistic model that put people over profits. Even if some businesses weren't going in that direction, we took risks and worked with nothing as we gave back all we could. Meaning not only were we making staying at home more common, but that giving back a given.
We have never taken a single loan for Toro Coffee. We were offered investments but also turned them down because we knew even if it took us 30 years, we wanted to evolve our way. Or if this didn't work out, that we weren't in debt. To us this was more than coffee. It was our family farm, other worldly products and a mission.
Almost 7 years later we have made it through with amazing souls who know we do this only for the love of it all. The love of harvest, people, and independence.
Every penny we ever made went to overhead and then to charity.
It was because our small business focused on others it has stayed alive through the toughest of times. It has grown from a dream on the coffee plantations of Armenia, to roasting in an apartment in Seattle, to then a garage in Eugene in the NW.
The point is, the real currency is now helping others. The new real "rich" is helping one another, and being genuine about WTF is happening in our world. You can get a loan to go to school for 100k and go in debt, much like how the bank also won't fund a business without interest that's criminal. So we have done it our way.
We started the Toro Foundation 4 years ago to build our own charity. We are starting with Feeding America as our go to charity, and contemplating the idea of starting our own micro-grant allocations to our community.
The point-- Keep Going! Stay Tuned & Don't Give Up! These are hard times but we are going to have to get creative to save ourselves and one another. This is a great time to take chances, get innovative, and pave a new world.