Nicholas is a native of Melbourne Australia and moved to NYC in 2010. He envisioned Bluestone Lane while attending Business School in New York, with the idea of providing a premium coffee experience that can be readily found in Australia (but not in the United States).
Bluestone Lane offers a refined product proposition dedicated to producing the highest quality coffee and complementary foods, delivered in an engaging way. They are focused on creating environments where customers are immersed in the experience and leave feeling like a local.
Who are your ideal clients?: Our target customer is young professionals, aged between 25-40 years of age, with higher than median income.
Is this your first business?: Yes, first entrepreneurial pursuit.
What is the biggest reason for your success so far?: There are three factors that I think have helped us significantly:
1. Bluestone Lane was my first experience working in retail or hospitality, however, I had 12 years experience advising, analyzing and funding businesses. So I think I had a unique, objective ability to assess how to build a retail brand, from a market position, cost structure analysis, and industry opportunity.
2. I was solely focused on building a retail and lifestyle brand, not a coffee shop business. When you're focused on building a brand, you make decisions through a different, more strategic lens.
3. I focused on recruiting people who were experts in their field, so we developed a team infrastructure that would enable us to scale expeditiously.
What were the earliest indications that this business could be successful?: We have never spent any money on marketing or PR. So when our customers began advocating unsolicitedly about the great experience we were providing, it was a strong early sign we were on the right track.
What is working best for your marketing right now?: Social media is the majority of our marketing strategy, primarily Instagram, combined with strategic partnerships with the right brands who have a similar target demographic.
What is your biggest differentiator?: We are an authentic brand, coming from Melbourne Australia.
We focus on creating immersive experiences, not providing products.
Everything we do is premium.
What is the toughest decision you've had to make in the last few months?: How much capital should we raise and evaluating the dilution versus liquidity risk equation.
If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?: Go for it and fail fast if needed.
How did you meet your co-founders or business partners? : Networking in New York.
Favorite place to travel to?: Hvar, on the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. Also, Australia, of course, our home country.
What is your background?: I was a professional sportsman for 6 years out of high school, then worked as an international banker for 12 years, before transitioning this year to full-time CEO at Bluestone Lane.
What book are you most likely to give as a gift?: I really like Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.
What is your favorite small business in your neighborhood? : Sweetgreen.
What is your favorite app or online tool? : Dropbox is incredible for business continuity and communications.
What was the best event that you recently attended?: Supper dinner at the Brooklyn Foundry was very cool.
How did you finance your business?: Personally and through friends and family.
What business would you love for someone else to start?: Hard one. A more efficient housing buy and sell marketplace.
What advice do you have for new founders? : Go for it. You need to go all in and be prepared to work harder than anyone.
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