Ian, Fabio and Steve all have a passion for surfing, adventure and travel. It was through many discussions that they came up with the concept for “The Goodlife”, encapsulating everything that they loved. Having seen how the coffee culture was taking off back home in South Africa they realised that this could be the first step to creating their own brand, and when an opportunity came up for premises in Switzerland, the Goodlife Coffee Company was born. 

What does Goodlife Coffee offer?

(Ian) The Goodlife Coffee Company is a small specialty coffee roasting company that was started in Switzerland in 2015. Our aim is to re-position the coffee culture in Switzerland – bringing customised blends and barista style (popular in UK) to a somewhat traditional market.

We are 3 South Africans that moved to Switzerland several years ago and have now set up the company operation in a Swiss-French city called Lausanne where we are all based.

Who do you see as your ideal market?

Our target market includes students, entrepreneurs, young professionals, sports enthusiasts and tourists.

What is so different about your brand compared to the many other coffee companies out there?

What makes us unique is that our brand integrates specialty coffee with lifestyle activities and events. The specialty coffee is achieved through our in-house roasting operation and exclusive bean sourcing. The lifestyle component is a part which is characterised by our passion for adventure, challenge and people – the mobile coffee vehicle serves as a platform that enables us to reach new customers at events across Switzerland.

Goodlife Coffee_startup

How long have you been working on this venture?

The concept was born several years ago and the company was founded in June 2015. 

How are you funding the project?

The project has been fully self-funded up until this point. We are looking at crowd-funding options to support the next planned business expansion steps.

Is this your first venture or have you run other businesses prior to this?

If you don’t count washing cars and selling lollipops at school, this is the first major startup for all of us 🙂 

Where did the idea for Goodlife originate from?

The name was born some years before the founding of the company, inspired by our joint desire to seek out great shared moments through adventure, challenge and people. 

We all have roots in South Africa and have collectively in excess of 30 years of experience in the food and consumer goods industry. This experience has led to the belief that there is a strong unmet need for students, entrepreneurs, tourists and business professionals alike for quality barista style coffee in a comfortable “out of home” environment in Switzerland.

So why coffee in particular?

We felt that in Switzerland, the quality of coffee here just isn’t the same as we know it from back home. For us, coffee as a product fits well to the brand. We envisage in the future to develop other platforms including food, events and design. 

Our focus area at the moment is to establish point of sale platforms through: building more customers in existing bars, restaurants and cafes in Lausanne with our product (cups, equipment, barista aprons etc.) – similar to the Truth coffee model in Cape Town; and being present at events and markets with our mobile coffee vehicle. We want to raise awareness of our brand in Lausanne and surrounds first, prior to opening our own cafe in the coming year.

Tell us a bit more about your personal and working backgrounds

We all enjoyed privileged outdoor and active lifestyle growing up in South Africa, all of us have a common passion for the ocean where we’d spend countless hours in the sun and surf. 

Our working backgrounds include a combination of FMCG and commercial trades. Between us, we hold degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Commerce and business administration. A combination of curiosity, passion and desire led us on this path of self-employment.

Do you have any mentors or role models who inspire you?

My grandad certainly served as an inspiration to me, coming from a family of 10 with little money and putting himself through night school to get an education in building and construction.

Today my late grandfather’s legacy lives on with several buildings worth millions of Rands that stand in the greater Johannesburg area.

Tell us about the most exciting moment to date in running this business

The launch of the mobile coffee vehicle at a street food festival in Lausanne recently proved the most exciting milestone for us individually and as a company. Nothing can prepare you for that feeling when making your first trade.

What about the toughest moment?

We had some complications when registering the company and investing in the infrastructure. This led to some near critical cash flow issues that really led to sleepless nights for all of us!

Do you think you have made any “bad” decisions along the way? 

We had a miscommunication led to an expensive and delayed legal process for our registration. The lesson learned for us was certainly to improve on our own internal communication as well as better formulating our roles and responsibilities within the company.

Was there ever a weird moment in your life where you felt that you are just destined to open this business?

During a privileged time in my life while competing in a world ocean racing series, I won a wooden trophy in Hawaii that I eventually titled “The Goodlife” as a token of the great experiences that I enjoyed and the people I had met along the way. This certainly played an inspirational role to initiate this venture!

Any particular goal you want to reach for the next few years?

Our aim is simple – to become a recognised specialty coffee company in Switzerland

And finally, what would the one bit of advice be for someone considering a startup?

Make sure you have provision for more than enough time planning (6-12 months) before you’re ready to really get started!