When the Coffee Runs Out

Lisa started a unique coffee bar business but no funds for expansion means losing the truck & stalling out after great startup momentum.

Lisa
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Project Description

 

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Hi. My name is Lisa Timko. I am a 55 year old small business owner. I also work 25 hours a week teaching computer classes and I hold a real estate license in the State of Ohio.

I'm that person who's burning the candle at both ends.

I work all the time and don't have time for much of anything else. Living this way is tiring, but it's the only way I've managed to be able to pay my bills. I want to see a change in my life - be able to actually stop and breathe, spend time with friends and family again, and take a vacation once in a while - which means something that I do has to become more profitable so I can let the rest go. I am hoping iFundWomen will help me be able to do that.

In 1994, I chose to resign from my position as a Systems Administrator in Atlanta, Georgia, to stay home with my kids and home school (crazy, I know!). That was the year my organization was transitioning into a Windows environment and had I stayed I was going to be fully Microsoft trained and certified at the organization's expense. Instead I chose to leave to be a full time mom. It was a tough decision to walk away from the job I loved, but I knew it was the right one.

 

Lisa and her kids

I spent the next 23 years home-schooling my 3 children. During that time I also went through a divorce and spent a good part of my parenting years as a single mom, still home-schooling, and also trying to pick up some extra cash with work-from-home jobs. (You can read more about my recognition with Tupperware and my other work in my bio.)

 

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In 2010, I launched Latte Living, a home party company that teaches people how to save money by making coffeehouse beverages at home. Good beverages! Part of my business objective was to make sure we were offering healthy drinks, including 100% fruit smoothies that moms could feel good about giving to their kids.

The coffeehouse home party took off. I did 12 parties in a row. Then people started asking me to make the beverages for their events. That's when I launched the catering division, Cleveland Espresso.

 

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My son, my daughter, and I run the coffee business together. I handle the administrative tasks and dealing with clients. My son works the jobs and makes sure we have staffing for jobs that require more than 2 people. My daughter helps with inventory and prep. It's great teamwork!

In the last 2 years, it has picked up quite a bit. We are experiencing growing pains, needing vehicles and equipment to keep up with demand. But we don't have the funds to be able to do that. Unfortunately, I don't have a retirement fund or any sort of savings account to tap into. We will not be able to expand without funding.

 

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truck

Part of our business is our coffee truck, which we launched last summer. My boyfriend (at the time) provided the funding through a business loan. We have since ended our relationship and he is asking me for the cash to pay off the loan. I don't have the cash so the truck has been up for sale for a few weeks. I am heartbroken to have to let go of the truck. Not only do people absolutely LOVE the concept here in Cleveland, but it's a great experience for us to have together as a family. We have a blast working the truck.

We barely were able to get the truck off the ground, but in the short time we used it, we did some spectacular events including two movies sets - a Bruce Willis film and a Matthew McConaughey film - and several other local events here in Cleveland. Some of our higher profile catering events include the 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction VIP Pre-Party. (Most events we are too busy to take pictures. The pictures we do have are just before the event started.)

We always offer a discount to non-profit organizations whether it's the truck or inside catering. We want to help organizations like the Alzheimer's Association, Lifebanc, The City Mission, Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations that are making a difference through their work.

 

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Our menu has grown to include:

  • cappuccinos & lattes made to order
  • cafe mochas
  • salted caramel lattes
  • matcha greet tea lattes
  • cafe americanos
  • hot chocolate
  • a variety of 100% fruit smoothies - strawberry, mango, pineapple, berry, and others
  • a variety of all natural frappes - mocha, caramel, vanilla, and our matcha mint chip
  • real crushed lemonade
  • "lemon blues" our signature frozen drink - crushed lemonade infused with blueberries - big hit!
  • real fruit juices
  • fruit infused iced teas (with peaches from my backyard!)
  • loose leaf hot teas
  • Italian sodas (working on developing a signature soda)

 

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My goal with this campaign is to raise the funds needed to purchase the truck, additional brewing & steaming equipment, and a (used) cargo van. This will get us to the next level of our business growth. With the proper equipment and vehicles, I feel confident business will continue to grow. My hope is that it will generate enough income for me to be able to devote all of my time to managing the business, planning for growth, and doing more client appreciation and marketing. I have a sister who has been in sales and development for 30+ years and she is ready to starting marketing for us - calling on big corporations here in Cleveland to get us more bookings.

My long term hope is that I can leave the business to my kids when I'm gone. Today my youngest daughter turns 20. I thought it would be a great launch date!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about my campaign. Please take a look at the incentives we are offering to supporters.

God bless!

Updates

The Project FAQs

We have a number of directions we can take the business beyond the coffee truck.

The coffee truck has been successful over the last 12 months so I don't see a lot of risk involved with moving forward. I guess if a health issue were to come up in my life personally, that could impact the business and is certainly a consideration. But I don't have any health issues currently that would keep me from being fully engaged day to day in the business.

These are the conversations that have already been happening regarding expansion and other directions...

  • Franchise to people who want to also do coffee catering in other cities under the umbrella company, Latte Living (appears to be a significant interest).
  • Contract for coffee shop setup and management inside corporations who want a coffee shop in their building full time (appears to be a significant to high demand).
  • Build on the home party plan and go regional. Preliminary marketing indicated a potential market for this. However, opportunity for increased profits for the consultants may be limited (not enough of a profit margin for MLM).
  • Open a retail establishment - either a coffee shop or a store for people to purchase our coffee beverage bases, coffee beans, ground coffee, loose leaf teas, and equipment, or a combination of both. (Have had requests from customers asking where to buy our coffees and teas.)
  • Partner with caterers. I've talked with 2 or 3 already who expressed an interest. I just haven't had the time to follow up and build those relationships. We have the ability to do fruit juices, real lemonade, hot chocolate bars, sodas, etc. The plan would be to partner with catering companies so they can focus on food and don't have to worry about the beverages.
Monetary Contribution With No Reward

Thank you for feeling our pain! Your contribution gives us hope that there is still good left in the world. You are a kind soul and we hope good things come back to you for all the good you do for the world.

Please accept our heart-felt thank you for being so generous. If you were here, we'd hug you. ♥

0 Supporters
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$25
Level 2 - Let's keep this thing going!

I HELPED FUND CLEVELAND ESPRESSO sticker.

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$125
Level 3 - Let's go full speed ahead!

Hand-written thank you note from the owner, a Cleveland Espresso cap plus recognition on our website.

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0 Supporters
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$1,250
Level 4 - Let's make this happen NOW!

Your name on our truck when we are out plus a cap and recognition on our website.

10 Left
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$10,000
Level 5 - Blast off!

Truck recognition, caps, stickers, free espresso bar for 25 people

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Rewards

Monetary Contribution With No Reward

Thank you for feeling our pain! Your contribution gives us hope that there is still good left in the world. You are a kind soul and we hope good things come back to you for all the good you do for the world.

Please accept our heart-felt thank you for being so generous. If you were here, we'd hug you. ♥

0 Supporters
Contribute
$25
Level 2 - Let's keep this thing going!

I HELPED FUND CLEVELAND ESPRESSO sticker.

1000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
$125
Level 3 - Let's go full speed ahead!

Hand-written thank you note from the owner, a Cleveland Espresso cap plus recognition on our website.

50 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
$1,250
Level 4 - Let's make this happen NOW!

Your name on our truck when we are out plus a cap and recognition on our website.

10 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
$10,000
Level 5 - Blast off!

Truck recognition, caps, stickers, free espresso bar for 25 people

1 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward