Helping you start, expand or purchase an early-stage, non-tech business
Muna Mohammed, Eight50 Coffee Founder
What is your business?
Eight50 Coffee is a proud female-owned Canadian coffee company. Our focus is to provide responsibly sourced, locally-roasted coffee from around the world. From flexible subscription options to brewing method resources, we provide an array of online coffee learning tools, and a digital shopping experience so customers can truly enjoy our single origin and unique blends at home.
Why did you start your business?
Coffee is so much more than a cup of caffeine; it’s a vehicle which creates connections with communities, places, nature, and relationships. I started this business to continue my own family legacy as coffee is an important part of my heritage. With deep roots from the birthplace of coffee as well as coming from an Oromo coffee producing family in the Harar highlands of Eastern Ethiopia, I wanted to make an impact by offering responsibly sourced coffee, sharing ancient coffee traditions, coffee history and working with coffee farmers and local artisans to create various sustainable coffee by-products, just as my ancestors did to minimize coffee waste.
I always knew that as a coffee brand, being on the opposite end of the supply chain from my coffee producing family would allow me to have a platform and more control over the messaging, the imagery and the stories being told about coffee. This is especially important to me to contribute to the much needed supplier diversity in coffee, particularly from a retail level. In addition to representation, my goal is to continue to build an inclusive brand that celebrates daily coffee moments , because I believe each day is a new day to connect with the things that matter most! Through Coffee, we find our moments, and I hope that you do too!
Tell us about yourself as an entrepreneur.
I’m driven by passion, stories, building strong relationships and making a difference. I’m always working towards connecting with customers and evolving through the journey of entrepreneurship. I try to find a balance between the hustle it takes to run this business and making time for my family as they fuel me to keep going. I also take my own advice and pause each day for a coffee moment as a form of self-care.
When did you launch your business?
We launched in April 2020.
Where do you see your business in 3 to 5 years?
We see our business expanding into more retail spaces and our products sold in different markets.
What did you learn from the Starter Company Plus program?
I was most impressed with how well-structured and tailored the programming is. The advice I received from the advisory and mentorship services gave my business more clarity and helped me map out long-term business objectives.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs who are starting their businesses?
Create a business that you’re passionate about; one that will drive you every day. It can be tempting to launch a business prematurely but don’t forget to focus on the key aspects that will help propel your business and minimize risk. Finally, create a business plan and understand your financials. It’s not the most glamorous part of starting a business but it will be worth it!
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Frequently Asked Questions
BIPOC as Starter Company Plus’ 2020 priority?
At Invest Ottawa, we know that diversity, inclusion and belonging are critical success factors for globally competitive organizations and are required to drive sustainable wealth creation and prosperity across our region. As an organization that doesn’t simply accept differences, but celebrates and supports it, we prioritize the creation of an inclusive culture and infuse diversity into our programs, operations and governance. As has been widely identified, racialized people face significant barriers in accessing resources necessary for starting and growing successful businesses. In a 2017 survey on ownership demographics of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Canada, data shows that only 13.6% of businesses are majority-owned by BIPOC. Of this 13.6%, only 3% of businesses are majority owned by BIPOC women. We at Invest Ottawa have recognized this gap, and as such are delivering Starter Company Plus 2020 to specifically help address the needs of racialized people and help close the equity gap in our local entrepreneurial landscape
2SLGBTQ+ is an acronym used to refer to people, as a group, who identify as Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Trans, Gender Independent, Queer and Questioning. The plus sign acknowledges the many sexual and gender minority people who don't see themselves in the umbrella acronym and prefer other identity terms such as pansexual, gender-free, or intersex.
The word "womxn" is an alternative term to the English language word "women." We use this term to explicitly include those who identify as women, transgender women, women of colour and non-binary individuals. This choice supports our concerted effort to create a culture of belonging.