GCU Junior Grows His Coffee Business Idea Via Entrepreneurial Club

October 12, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau

GCU junior Reid Simpson needs a place on campus to park his trike.

It’s no average three-wheeler, measuring 9 feet long, 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and it’s worth about $25,000. The vehicle — if you want to call it that — is the single best visual for his online coffee distribution venture, Wild Horse Coffee, which claimed second place in the inaugural Canyon Challenge entrepreneurial competition last spring.

Reid Simpson. a GCU junior, is passionate about growing his online coffee distribution business, Wild Horse Coffee.

Simpson would like to have a presence on campus, vending hot joe and urging customers to subscribe to Wild Horse’s Coffee of the Month Club. Members of the club pay to receive their fair trade, organic beans in the mail, and Simpson says his roster currently exceeds 100. He wants to take that up to 500 in the next year.

Which brings us back to the trike, which can be the driver for that kind of momentum.

“It’s sitting at our roasting facility (in Ahwatukee), looking pretty,” said Simpson, who spoke at Thursday’s kickoff meeting of IDEA (Innovation, Development & Entrepreneurship Association) in one of the North Gym lecture halls.

“The storage (on campus) is the only thing holding us back. We’re at the mercy of a lock and key.”

While Simpson and his business partner, Mark Godfrey, gently press the University for a parking spot, they’re also making plans to enter the Challenge again. The finals tentatively are scheduled for March 14 in Ethington Theatre.

For more information about IDEA, go to http://ideagcu.igloocommunities.com/  

Simpson said he will bring a much more streamlined investment pitch this time, emphasizing that the coffee he buys for $5 a pound is sold for $16 on the company’s site (www.wildhorsecoffee.com). Gifting soon will be possible through a revamped version of the site, and a mobile app also is in the works to expedite signups when Wild Horse is out in the community.

“I’d love to have this (business) established by the time I graduate,” said Simpson, who also will serve as president of IDEA this year. “It takes money to grow money. Coffee is a great business — people have to have it — but there are so many competitors.”

IDEA, co-sponsored by faculty members Tim Kelley and Lori Soukup, is an effort to nurture budding entrepreneurs on the traditional campus and online. The inaugural Challenge attracted nearly 50 business plans, and Kelley has outlined a “Roadmap to Launch” for the next one that has specific target dates attached to it.

“Sharing your idea is the best way to make it a reality,” Kelley told those assembled Thursday. “By sharing it, you create momentum, you get another critique or evaluation. (An idea) can grow by networking.”

Freshman Justin Sjaaheim, who was at the meeting, seems to understand the networking part already. He has been operating Triple J Studios — which he described as an “entry-level recording studio” — out of his room in Camelback Hall, spreading the word about his enterprise to anyone who will listen.

Most recently, he recorded the Lope City Chicks’ clever version of the song “Rack City” for the Lip Sync competition in GCU Arena. He said he has recorded more than a half-dozen student performers in all.

“Our next goal is to try to involve the worship ministry on campus,” said Sjaaheim, who has been fiddling with buttons and knobs since middle school. “That would help us and also the University, if we could record the Chapel band and set up (performance) dates for them.”

Kelley encouraged Sjaaheim and others in the audience of about 25 to think big.

“How do we take advantage of the gift of time?” he asked them after playing a video, which made the point that each day has an “account” of 86,400 non-transferrable seconds to invest. “How do we leverage it? That’s what IDEA is about.”

Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or doug.carroll@gcu.edu.

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