This little coffee shop is worth $118M. And it all started with one tiny cart

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It’s a wild story. So I spent 3 hours digging into the business. • It’s called Blank Street Coffee • Run by co-founders Issam and Vinay • They’ve grown to 65 locations in 4 cities Blank Street is hijacking coffee culture with a totally new playbook. And there’s a lot to learn from how they’re doing it.

1/ Early days Rewind to 2020. Blank Street opens a coffee cart in Brooklyn. They’re serving up cold brews and lattes. It’s a prime location. And priced right. Drinks are 25% cheaper than Starbucks. Right away, the lines are growing. Vinay and Issam get into hustle mode. They keep the carts coming. Scattered around Brooklyn and Manhattan. And they’re brewing something big.

2/ Think small Fast forward 6 months. Blank Street opens a cafe. It’s cramped at just 500 square feet. But it works. It’s got earthy tones and a minimal aesthetic. Sleek fixtures and vintage lighting. Local art and chalkboard charm. With just the right amount of Helvetica. But don’t be fooled by the Instagram vibes. Behind the pastel green is a brilliant business machine.

3/ Smart operations Blank Street is built lean. The stores are small on purpose. They run cheap. Rent is probably $3,500 a month. Compared to $15K at a typical cafe. Then there’s the tech. Locations are stacked with mobile ordering and touchless payments. Plus high-octane espresso machines pumping out 90 cups an hour. All running with just 1-2 employees. And moving fast. Blank Street went from a single store to 50. In one year. They’re frothing lots of lattes. And dripping with dollars.

4/ Unit economics I’m guessing each location has 200 customers a day. Spending $5 an order. Which is $30K per month. Labor, rent, and other costs are likely $22K a month. Leaving $8,000 in fine-filtered profit. That’s a healthy 27% margin. And all this caffeinated cash has the attention of investors.

5/ Big money Blank Street is being handcrafted by the smartest VC’s in town. Tiger Global and General Catalyst are at the table. Plus the founders of Warby Parker and Allbirds. The company’s raised $118M so far. Those tiny stores are sprawling from Boston to London. With plenty more on the way. 6/ My take Blank Street is using the “indie-fication” strategy. That’s what I call this trend. And it’s a smart approach in building a customer community. But it needs to be genuine. Blank Street partners with local bakeries and artists. They use eco-friendly materials. And they pay people well. They’re brewing up a new era of coffee culture. One chai latte at a time.

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