Catering to Your Niche Customer: Start-Ups

If you don’t know what a Start-Up is you probably don’t know how to use the Internet so you probably aren’t reading this blog right now–unless someone printed it out for you. If that’s the case then Hi! Welcome to the Internet (sort of), let me fill you in. A Start-Up is essentially a new small business that has emerged to meet a market need and is blooming faster than the speed of a smartphone app downloaded over a crystal clear WiFi connection!

As a small-or-large-business owner yourself, that is, the owner/founder/operator of a rising-star coffee shop, one thing to consider when targeting customers and marketing your brand is the Start-Up business and its parent entrepreneurs. Of course, you can consider them for their expertise in smartphone apps or cutting-edge coffee-brewing-systems; but, you should also consider them as potential future customers!

Start-Ups early in the game tend to have no physical office space to their name. These are the types of businesses that start in someone’s living room or in the library at their university. This means they, like your favorite customers freelancers, need a space to conduct business, meetings, and work on tackling their niche market head-on.

That’s where you come in. When you tailor your space to business meetings, you’ll want to keep Start-Ups in mind as well. This means populating your space with large, communal tables that allow for small groups to gather comfortably and spread out their printouts, various electronics, snacks and coffee. You’ll want to make sure that all of the tables in your shop are well-spaced so that entrepreneurs conducting meetings don’t disturb the blogger on the verge of her deadline or the couple on a blind date. You can also consider building booths in your space large enough to accommodate such groups and provide even more privacy to them and the customers around them. Taking privacy further, you can also provide separate rooms with different designations, including one for “work” or “collaboration;” trust me, having a collaboration room at your coffee shop is going to attract a lot of repeat customers to your space!

You can also, of course, have a separate room which is available to rent or reserve at your discretion, and you should consider setting up this space to accommodate these up-and-coming business people as well as possible. As with your entire space, there should be reliable WiFi and readily available outlets. In a separate room, you can provide everything from a computer/computers, a projector, HDMI cords and chargers, and even a coffee pot or dispenser so that they can refill their drips without having to leave the space and wait in line again. Many freelance cafes offer unlimited coffee and snacks with membership; you could do something similar if you rent out a space at your coffee shop.

With Start-Ups, it may be less important than it is with general business meetings to have sleek, workable surfaces in your space; but, they won’t want to come get work done if the space isn’t workable. While you can have some comfy armchairs, of course, or those rustic, rough-finished wooden tables, you’ll want to make sure there are surfaces that are good for drawing and writing on. You’ll want good lighting, especially natural light if you can manage it, and sleek, modern designs; as a company on the edge of technology and trends, they’ll be most drawn to (and inspired by) a space that reflects those concepts!

Many Start-Ups involve technology and the Internet, so you can go even as far as to incorporate those concepts into your brand, even by having a logo that is abstract, angular, and clearly indicative of graphic design.

And, of course, you can get this logo custom applied to your favorite sleek, modern packaging at PBFY.com for some of the Internet’s most affordable and competitive packaging prices. One of these entrepreneurs may take a bag of your beans home to brew and he will be reminded of your shop every single day. That’s just one step away from buying your coffee for the break room when they finally get an office of their own!

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15 Comments

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  1. Great article!
    This post prompted me to think about the role coffee shops have played for me as an entrepreneur.
    I realized that they’ve actually been a big part of my lifestyle in the last couple of years.
    They have served me to get lots done and have important meetings.
    This is why startups should consider moving to coffee shops and why coffee shop owners should consider populating their space with large, communal tables that allow for small groups to gather comfortably and spread out their printouts, various electronics, snacks, and coffee.

  2. Most of the entrepreneurs don’t even have a physical address in start so, they look for comfort and suitable environment outside, where they can held their business meetings… many of them find coffee shops the best place to conduct important business meetings… I really appreciate the coffee shop owners who have played a huge role in establishing many businesses!

  3. For me, coffee business is the leading choice for start-up business. Though building a coffee shop is not easy and cost a bit more than the usual food/cart business. Somehow coffee shop is the kind of business you can customized to your desire. Its really fun to have a coffee shop!

  4. Despite the fact that startups spend most of their time in their living room or in the library at their university, they usually spend a couple of hours at a coffee shop to come with new ideas for their business. that’s why catering to them would be a great idea to boost your revenues.

  5. Sounds like this particular niche might need a lot more extra accommodation than usual. I would only attempt such a venture in a fairly large, metropolitan area as it would be much harder to afford the space and renovations necessary and only a large customer base would make this practical. This kind of a challenge however would be perfect for someone who could identify with other Start-Ups by being one themselves. And the cool thing about that is that many coffee shops are!

  6. I hadn’t really thought about how much business that particular niche could bring in. As someone who lives in a rural area, I doubt catering to that group would bring in much unless it was a bigger city. I do think that providing a room available to rent would be reasonable though.

  7. I definitely agree that the start-up entrepreneur has specific needs that a coffee shop can fulfill! I do think that taking care of these “niche” customers can’t overshadow the usual types of coffee shop goers.

  8. Startups have existed long before the internet, so I think it’s something that only people on the internet would know.. A startup is a business that is just starting, but with a rapid growth potential. Regardless if they are on the net or not.

    You have some great points, but I think that specifically catering to such a niche might be a bad idea unless your shop is sitting right in the middle of a neighborhood with a lot of entrepreneurs.

    For one thing, startups are only small in the beginning – meaning they won’t be small enough for your space to accommodate in the long run. You’ll end up with no customers once they finally get an office, since your shop will always just be a “temp” hangout. Actually building a space for them in your shop will lead to a space that will be underutilized in the long run.

    I think that you can still cater to that niche without having to bend over backwards too much. Startups in the beginning can be so small that they look like a group of friends just hanging out while talking about their idea. Once they grow big enough to need a massive table or a “conference room” like space, they will probably just rent a space rather than set up shop in your coffee shop.

    What you can do is to maintain connections. Be friendly with them, offer a card, and if you have delivery services, remind them of that. Once they grow big enough, they will still need coffee, so maybe you can provide that for them even outside of the shop. You might even become an exclusive provider for their canteen!

    • I definitely agree with this. There’s a certain edge to being a start-up’s ‘home’. Maintain good connections, and your cafe cold be a partner for their upcoming events or whatnot.

    • I must say that you pointed out some great arguments. I agree that you can accomodate to this niche but not at the cost of having to bend over backwards too much. I also believe that it is crucial in any business, not just coffee business, to mantain contacts, because you never now what would come in handy one day.

    • Perhaps this is true. Maybe it wouldn’t be a viable option/opportunity to have a ‘conference room’ setup – but that might not be needed.

      I believe that some startups may want to keep the memory of their roots alive by having a coffee shop meeting every week, or …? Besides, it would give them the chance to get out of the office for a while. Sometimes this gets the mental gears turning.

      My local coffee shops caters to a group of businessmen every single morning. You can bank on the fact that they will be there. Same time, same tables, every day. It’s what they do.

      Anyway, the important thing – like you said, John – is to maintain connections.

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