September 16th, 2014 Startup Grind San Francisco Hosts Phil and Jacob Jaber (Philz Coffee)

On Tuesday, September 16th, Office Lease Center attended Startup Grinds fireside chat with Phil and Jacob Jaber of Philz Coffee at the Pivotal Labs office in San Francisco.

Host - Perri Gorman PG

Phil Jaber - PJ

Jacob Jaber - JJ

H: Tell us about coffee, the market research you went through?

PJ:  We learned a lot from our customers even more than the people that grow the coffee for us. I’ll repeat this, the clients know a lot about the product and this is how I learned. All I see when I go to coffee shops are all these fancy drinks that people can’t even pronounce. We did a lot of evolving from the knowledge from our customers.

H: How did you grow your business?

PJ: We always had plans to grow, to get managers and learn from them. If you want to be successful in life, you must love what you do. Money should be the last thing you think about. People spend 1,4,8 years in school. I was learning how to run my business for 25 years.

H: Jacob, lets hear some of your stories from the business.

JJ There is a diff between starting a business and pursuing a passion. My dad had a very deep commitment to treating people well and building a great community. It helped that my dad and I had a lot of like minded values and this was instilled in me at a very young age.

H: How was working with dad?

JJ I was young and wanted to go, go, go. I made some mistakes, nothing too big and I was able to learn pretty quickly. In the early days we were working 16 hour days doing everything. We even would go outside and hustle and give people free coffee.

There was a transition from groceries to coffee and it didn’t happen overnight. I was fired and rehired many times over the years.

There would be times I would be fired start walking out and my dad would hire me back because there was a line of people.

It all comes down to passion. Again, don’t start a business to start a business, be passionate about it.

H: Your culture is all about a personal experience, how do you scale that?

PJ It’s very tough to think about. Scale is a good word, but we don’t really like it. You can’t scale a genuine authentic experience. You have to hire people that fit the culture and characteristics of the company.

During the hiring process, we look more at the culture and attitude before their skills. This helps us and the business keep that same time of experience across our locations. This type of attitude needs to be ingrained into the managers too. Not just the workers at the counters.

H: You took VC money last year. Tell us about that experience?

PJ When it comes to my business, not one has enough money to sit at my table and tell me how to run my business. That is something I left them know right off the bat.

H: We do you see the business heading?

PJ: We have 16 shops and opening up some news one soon. San Mateo is coming up next, Redwood City, Oakland. The Bay area is expanding. I want to thank everyone who came out to the Santa Monica grand opening.

We are not a cookie cutter business either. Each shop has it’s own unique flavor as we hire people from that community. This is also something we take pride in.