Giving new meaning to the daily grind.
Joshua VanDusen is someone who is passionate about his coffee and pursuing his dreams. When getting your daily dose of caffeine at Joshua’s mobile coffee shop, it comes with complimentary conversation and authentic customer service. A supporter of community and inclusion, Joshua is motivated by the innate power an espresso bean has to unite people.
At theBLOQparq (tBp), we are deeply committed to inspiring meaningful connections and positive interactions. During our interview with Joshua, the owner of Simple Coffee, it became clear that our visions were in complete alignment with one another. Don’t you love serendipitous experiences like that? His coffee business goes beyond serving a commodity – he aims to serve a feeling of comfort and belonging to every individual who stops by. Joshua believes he is blessed to do something he loves for a living.
If you have aspirations of starting your own business, tBp is here to advocate for your dreams. Entrepreneurship is within reach and Joshua is proving it – one cup of coffee at a time. When it comes to becoming your own boss, you’d be wise to gain insight from someone who has bean there and done that.
1. When did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur? What inspired you to make that dream a reality?
I believe every person has a unique purpose, talents, and personality traits that allows them to contribute to society; vocation being a part of that contribution. Personally, I have always found myself being thrown into some kind of leadership role – even when I tried to avoid it. Through self-awareness and earning my MA in Organizational Leadership, I realized I was meant to guide people and to create.
Starting businesses that had the potential to build and enhance communities resonated with me. I had the desire to break cultural and socioeconomic barriers, to provide opportunities for people to interact and discover all the commonalities that exist. I understood the value of the products consumers enjoy, but the ability to utilize a business as a means of intrinsically affecting people in a positive way is what has served as my entrepreneurial inspiration from the very beginning.
2. Aside from coffee being extremely satisfying, addictive and the best (and only) way to start the day, why was a coffee shop your business of choice?
Coffee shop was a no brainer. The industry is growing rapidly worldwide and the profit margins are incredibly high – especially when serving food of some sort. And although one may argue it is an oversaturated market, I believe that with the right brand and unique selling proposition, there is plenty of money to be made. In addition, all kinds of people drink coffee. It is a magical caffeinated beverage that has the power to connect people and to enhance relationships. I foresee rich conversations where people get their social meter filled up. The coffee shop itself often becomes a comfort zone, somewhat of a home away from home.
3. Brand loyalty plays a crucial role in the success of all businesses, but particularly the small, independent ones. In what ways do you work to build that committed connection with customers? What makes Simple Coffee different from other coffee shops?
Being that we are a pop-up coffee shop, we are meeting the customer in their stomping grounds. We typically show up in the same places around town and are intentional about taking a genuine interest in people’s lives. I feel this gives Simple Coffee an added level of convenience and comfort. One of our values is to know the stories. We want our customers to know who we are, the story of the coffee they are drinking, and to know their story. Fostering authentic relationships is an important part of creating brand loyalty.
Simple Coffee is different because we offer more than coffee – we offer community. We welcome everyone, not just coffee aficionados. We take great pride in offering the consumer a quality cup of coffee for an affordable price. We’ve found that when someone tastes our coffee, they don’t need or want the additives. I roast all of the coffee here in town, so it is fresh. Our baked goods which include specialty items like biscotti, Italian lemon cookies, zucchini bread and more, are all made from scratch and with love. We keep things simple (hence the name). It’s all about quality ingredients, quality products and quality customer service.
We want to do our part to help people taste the natural flavors of coffee. Just like fine white wine pairs well with fish or lobster, the rich chocolaty notes of a dark roast pair perfectly with a fudgy brownie. A pairing menu to help turn the caffeinating process into somewhat of a culinary experience is also in the works.
Additionally, I take great pride in enhancing the typical coffee experience. We have this cool coffee maker called the “Belgium Brew.” It uses an 18th century method of brewing that involves vacuum pressure. It is really cool to see the customers’ faces as they watch the unique process at work. We use this technique at our wedding events and plan to incorporate it into our (future) location at theBLOQparq.
4. The entrepreneurial path is never a straight line. What are some of the greatest successes and challenges you’ve faced since opening the doors to Simple Coffee?
My greatest successes include being able to start a business without pulling out any business loans, keeping costs down and making a decent profit that allowed me to come close to being out of the red in just 6 months time. Additionally, I have succeeded at forming positive relationships with consumers and have built a wonderful network of supporters, local business owners, and friends who ensure the success of Simple Coffee.
Some of my greatest challenges have been operating as a mobile business model and not having a central location. Everything is done out of my house, so there is no separation between work and home. I feel that as a startup, I’m still trying to achieve that work/life balance – being that I have not yet reached a point where I can afford to hire employees, I handle the bulk of the workload. I’ve also had a hard time getting the Simple Coffee name to stand out among the sea of coffee shops here in Las Vegas. However, I think it all comes with the territory of entrepreneurship and I believe it’s well worth it.
5. What adjustments have you made in response to this pandemic?
Since the start of the COVID, we have implemented extra safety precautions. We make sure to glove up and wear masks whenever handling coffee or baking. We are very lucky in the sense that Simple Coffee is a business that was easily adaptable for the pandemic. We were actually a business made for the pandemic. Having the ability to post up outside in the fresh air and go to the people instead of having them come to us proved to be a huge advantage.
6. What is the best thing about being your own boss? What are some words of encouragement and/or advice you would give to those who are nervous to take the entrepreneurial leap?
One of the best things about being my own boss is having the ability to create my own hours and work around my family life. I also love that I get to choose who I work with and how I want to reach consumers. Seeing the ideas and visions I had for the business come to life in my own way is gratifying and amazing. To anyone who is nervous about becoming an entrepreneur, I would say (in the words of Nike) JUST DO IT. Taking the risk is much better than the alternative of regretting having never given it a try.
Everyone thinks you need to pull out thousands of dollars in business loans and be in debt for a period of time before you see growth when in actuality, that’s not always the case. The world has changed and it’s ready for micro-businesses to be the next big thing. I would suggest starting small and working your way up. Save some money and cut costs by making your own products, if possible. Go post up a table somewhere and start getting your product out there.
“The brands we consume say something about us and our capacity to choose.”
– Bruce Mckinnon
It is also extremely important to have your brand solidified. Know what message your business is trying to convey and create a mission around that narrative. People don’t become loyal to a business, they develop trust and commitment in relation to the brand.
7. During your time here in Las Vegas, what growth have you witnessed in the City of Henderson? What makes it an attractive place to call home as a resident and as a business owner?
When we moved here two years ago, there’s a reason why we chose to live in Henderson. It is a great place to raise a family, to start a business and to enjoy the many incredible restaurants, shops and activities it has to offer. Henderson has a charm that makes it feel homey and an energy that is tangible. It is also significantly more affordable to live in this area compared to places like California or states out on the East Coast. For all of these reasons, people continue to migrate here, making Henderson the fastest-growing city in Nevada. I really think things are just getting started here and that the best is yet to come.
8. Simple Coffee is currently operating as a mobile coffee shop. How do you see theBLOQparq’s micro-retail space serving as the perfect complementary brick-and-mortar location?
I really view theBLOQparq as an innovative and affordable opportunity for Simple Coffee to have a home base. As we will still have our pop-up business model, having a location where our customers know they can find us will be very beneficial. It will also solve the current problem of having a proper place to keep all of my equipment, creating a desirable separation between work and home.
Having operated as a mobile business, we are used to offering our products and services in a small amount of space. It doesn’t require a large amount of square footage to make a quality cup of coffee and to have meaningful interactions with our customers. I believe the micro-retail units will serve as the perfect stepping stone for us to expand our brand awareness and following.
9. How do you feel Simple Coffee and other retailers will benefit from theBLOQparq’s master-planned design?
One of the things that makes theBLOQparq attractive to me as an entrepreneur is the way in which the space is designed. I feel like it is tailored to showcase small, independent businesses and to help them grow. The way they are integrating the live, work and play components together results in the diverse demographic Simple Coffee loves to serve. And the best part is that, unlike our pop-up coffee shops, we wouldn’t have to travel anywhere to reach everyone.
Building a community is a clear priority for theBLOQparq and I love the way they are creating an environment that invites people to interact with one another – it is an ideal setup for a coffee shop like ours. It is also very appealing to know that their micro-retail units are customizable, allowing the business owners to end up with a space that is unique to them and their brand. The walkability and convenience factor is also not something to be overlooked. A place like theBLOQparq will instantly provide us with more foot traffic, easily resulting in an increase of profits.
10. Being that coffee shops are the epitome of making connections and sharing meaningful conversations, how do you envision the live, work, play lifestyle of theBLOQparq enhancing Simple Coffee’s opportunities for success?
Providing us with a diverse environment, theBLOQparq will allow us to reach a lot of potential customers with new opportunities I wouldn’t have access to in my mobile shop. I can foresee events being formulated and a few businesses tag-teaming to make it happen. I can envision those who live there just coming down for their daily dose of caffeine and families enjoying quality time together while the parents savor a cup of joe.
I can see fellow entrepreneurs renting out the micro-office spaces and living off our coffee to survive their busy days. Heck, I will have the opportunity to get off work and have some fun at theBLOQparq myself with my family. It will be a positive, inspiring, and thriving community I would love to be a part of. Simple Coffee’s vision and theBLOQparq’s mission are so similar – it’s crazy.
11. What is your vision for the future of Simple Coffee? What role do you believe theBLOQparq could play in allowing you to reach those goals?
I have big plans for Simple Coffee. I’m talking about multiple locations and multiple coffee stands throughout the Las Vegas Valley. We are committed to being active members in our communities; knowing each customer personally. We are determined to grow enough to be able to give back. To support local and global nonprofits that make the world a better place. That includes getting to know our coffee farmers and sources to keep ensuring they get paid an ethical wage. Having the ability to provide money for teaching sustainable farming techniques to produce the best coffee possible is also on our future to-do list. theBLOQparq (strategically set in the growing city of Henderson) will be ideal for our first stationary location, and give us a solid foundation to build upon.
theBLOQparq is an innovative, micro-style community at the forefront of making the most of Henderson’s untapped potential. For those who are unafraid to lead the way, to pave a path in pursuit of fulfillment in the same way Joshua has done by bringing his concept of Simple Coffee to fruition. We have a micro-retail space ready and waiting to be customized for you!
Takeaway #1: As an entrepreneur, you will have the benefit of making your own schedule. However, it can also prove challenging to maintain a work/life balance. It’s important to remember why you started this journey. If it was to spend more time doing things you love with the people you love, be sure that remains a priority.
Takeaway #2: You don’t necessarily have to spend thousands of dollars or accrue debt in order to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality. The world has changed and it’s adapting in a way that is beneficial for micro-businesses. The best thing is to start small and work your way up.
Takeaway #3: The micro-retail units at theBLOQparq can be customized to meet the individual needs and styles of every business owner. Representing your brand in a way that speaks to potential customers is one way to increase customer loyalty and awareness.
Joshua VanDusen is the Founder and Owner of Simple Coffee. With a passion to create non-profit organizations and businesses that change lives for the better, Joshua works to enable others to fulfill their dreams and foster a culture of positivity. Outside of the workplace, Joshua enjoys playing disc golf, gaming, and spending quality time with his wife and two year old daughter.
Want to trade some stress for some delicious Simple Coffee? It really is home in a cup.
Find out where they will pop up next here or call 702.546.6331 anytime!