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Wise Words with Kris Hewitt

Wise Words

We chat to the founder of coffee subscription service eightpointnine, which allows users to customize their own blends, about their first year of business.

Many a startup would have crashed and burned without one essential fuel to spur them on – caffeine. Coffee provides a morning pick-me-up for workers all over the world and as a result it has become incredibly popular and a daily staple in many peoples’ routines. This has meant that consumer demand for quality coffee beans has grown, and standards have risen. Kris Hewitt and Phil Clarke, the founders of coffee subscription company eightpointnine, recognized this increased focus on quality and decided to cater for these new coffee connoisseurs. eightpointnine offers unique coffee blends that can be tailored to suit the user’s taste. Once the user has selected a particular blend it is then mailed to their door on a weekly basis. The customer can then change their choice of blend as they see fit. Kris has a corporate background with 11 years experience in the banking and e-commerce sectors. He took the plunge and quit his job at Barclays after teaming up with two friends to found eightpointnine in June 2011. We put our questions to Kris to find out how the subscription service model is working out for them after a year of trading.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I guess most business owners love to get nice feedback from their customers and I’m no different! I also like to receive the not so positive feedback because that gives us the opportunity to either put something right or to improve for the next customer. The good news is its been almost all positive so far so I guess we are doing something right. Also I’m a big fan of the crazy names people come up with for their personalised coffee blends, a recent favourite being “Superman Punches Horses In The Face Just For Fun”!
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Probably the biggest stress when we were building eightpointnine was the lack of resources, partly financial but mainly time. Everything we wanted to do seemed to take three times longer than we thought it would and there weren’t enough hours in the day. Sleep became a luxury!
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I guess most business owners love to get nice feedback from their customers and I’m no different! I also like to receive the not so positive feedback because that gives us the opportunity to either put something right or to improve for the next customer. The good news is its been almost all positive so far so I guess we are doing something right. Also I’m a big fan of the crazy names people come up with for their personalised coffee blends, a recent favourite being “Superman Punches Horses In The Face Just For Fun”!
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think there are many ingredients which make up a successful entrepreneur not least: hard work, determination, ambition and good common sense. I think if there is a “secret” ingredient it is probably being able to find the right people and finding how best to utilise them to make your business grow. I’ve been incredibly lucky in this respect and by working closely with Phil and Paul, our Operations guru, I truly believe that in our case the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Probably the biggest stress when we were building eightpointnine was the lack of resources, partly financial but mainly time. Everything we wanted to do seemed to take three times longer than we thought it would and there weren’t enough hours in the day. Sleep became a luxury!
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I guess most business owners love to get nice feedback from their customers and I’m no different! I also like to receive the not so positive feedback because that gives us the opportunity to either put something right or to improve for the next customer. The good news is its been almost all positive so far so I guess we are doing something right. Also I’m a big fan of the crazy names people come up with for their personalised coffee blends, a recent favourite being “Superman Punches Horses In The Face Just For Fun”!
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on eightpointnine?
Sorry I don’t understand your question! Seriously though, with an online business it’s very easy to be doing something 24×7 and it’s hard to switch off when you just know there is always something you could do to make your product or service better. If you were to push me, I guess spending time with my lovely girlfriend Eva, enjoying some kind of sporting activity and probably drinking coffee (in that order).
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think there are many ingredients which make up a successful entrepreneur not least: hard work, determination, ambition and good common sense. I think if there is a “secret” ingredient it is probably being able to find the right people and finding how best to utilise them to make your business grow. I’ve been incredibly lucky in this respect and by working closely with Phil and Paul, our Operations guru, I truly believe that in our case the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Probably the biggest stress when we were building eightpointnine was the lack of resources, partly financial but mainly time. Everything we wanted to do seemed to take three times longer than we thought it would and there weren’t enough hours in the day. Sleep became a luxury!
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I guess most business owners love to get nice feedback from their customers and I’m no different! I also like to receive the not so positive feedback because that gives us the opportunity to either put something right or to improve for the next customer. The good news is its been almost all positive so far so I guess we are doing something right. Also I’m a big fan of the crazy names people come up with for their personalised coffee blends, a recent favourite being “Superman Punches Horses In The Face Just For Fun”!
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
We are a small team and operate without a central office so we spend a lot of our time on Skype, Twitter and email. Our setup gives us all a lot of freedom and flexibility, which is great. We have bootstrapped the whole concept so we tend to share out all the work so each day really is very different. One day I can be cupping coffee, the next learning how to write some code to improve the user experience, I know which I prefer!
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on eightpointnine?
Sorry I don’t understand your question! Seriously though, with an online business it’s very easy to be doing something 24×7 and it’s hard to switch off when you just know there is always something you could do to make your product or service better. If you were to push me, I guess spending time with my lovely girlfriend Eva, enjoying some kind of sporting activity and probably drinking coffee (in that order).
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think there are many ingredients which make up a successful entrepreneur not least: hard work, determination, ambition and good common sense. I think if there is a “secret” ingredient it is probably being able to find the right people and finding how best to utilise them to make your business grow. I’ve been incredibly lucky in this respect and by working closely with Phil and Paul, our Operations guru, I truly believe that in our case the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Probably the biggest stress when we were building eightpointnine was the lack of resources, partly financial but mainly time. Everything we wanted to do seemed to take three times longer than we thought it would and there weren’t enough hours in the day. Sleep became a luxury!
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I guess most business owners love to get nice feedback from their customers and I’m no different! I also like to receive the not so positive feedback because that gives us the opportunity to either put something right or to improve for the next customer. The good news is its been almost all positive so far so I guess we are doing something right. Also I’m a big fan of the crazy names people come up with for their personalised coffee blends, a recent favourite being “Superman Punches Horses In The Face Just For Fun”!
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.
1. Where did the idea for eightpointnine come from?
I’d like to take credit for it all but that wouldn’t be very fair! My co-founder Phil Clarke came up with the original concept of great tasting gourmet coffee by post and together we evolved this into eightpointnine. Essentially we were both tired of drinking bad coffee and had a hunch that if we understood what made the perfect cup then we could help others do the same. We spent a year learning about coffee, tasting the stuff and refining our business concept before eightpointnine was really “born”. We thought that by introducing the option to customise the flavour profile of the coffee to your own taste together using the finest gourmet fresh coffee (not the stale stuff you buy in supermarkets) would result in the perfect cup and so far it seems that people agree with us.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
We are a small team and operate without a central office so we spend a lot of our time on Skype, Twitter and email. Our setup gives us all a lot of freedom and flexibility, which is great. We have bootstrapped the whole concept so we tend to share out all the work so each day really is very different. One day I can be cupping coffee, the next learning how to write some code to improve the user experience, I know which I prefer!
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on eightpointnine?
Sorry I don’t understand your question! Seriously though, with an online business it’s very easy to be doing something 24×7 and it’s hard to switch off when you just know there is always something you could do to make your product or service better. If you were to push me, I guess spending time with my lovely girlfriend Eva, enjoying some kind of sporting activity and probably drinking coffee (in that order).
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think there are many ingredients which make up a successful entrepreneur not least: hard work, determination, ambition and good common sense. I think if there is a “secret” ingredient it is probably being able to find the right people and finding how best to utilise them to make your business grow. I’ve been incredibly lucky in this respect and by working closely with Phil and Paul, our Operations guru, I truly believe that in our case the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Probably the biggest stress when we were building eightpointnine was the lack of resources, partly financial but mainly time. Everything we wanted to do seemed to take three times longer than we thought it would and there weren’t enough hours in the day. Sleep became a luxury!
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I guess most business owners love to get nice feedback from their customers and I’m no different! I also like to receive the not so positive feedback because that gives us the opportunity to either put something right or to improve for the next customer. The good news is its been almost all positive so far so I guess we are doing something right. Also I’m a big fan of the crazy names people come up with for their personalised coffee blends, a recent favourite being “Superman Punches Horses In The Face Just For Fun”!
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As a group we are never satisfied so there is probably a long list of things we would do differently if we had the opportunity. I think we have learnt a lot by just getting stuff out there and refining as we go, there is a lot to be said for this approach and we are starting to see the results of this now. Of course it has a price, sometimes we don’t get it right and things don’t work as planned but I really believe that this is all part of the learning curve.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
The Netflix or graze.com of coffee! We’ll get there through a lot of hard work and doing lots of small things better than everyone else in our space. We are constantly evolving eightpointnine, we treat it like a beta still and we carefully analyse the results of every iteration to help us improve our proposition. We will shortly be raising funds to spend on growing our customer base and polishing some of the rough edges. I think looking at our first year, where we are today vs where we were when we started 12 months ago is staggering so I am confident 5 years from now we’ll have something amazing on our hands.
9. If you weren’t working on eightpointnine, what would you be doing?
I’m pretty restless so it always feels like I’m working on a million different projects at once anyway.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
If you use a Cafetière/French Press to make your coffee do not pour boiling water into it! If the water is too hot it can over extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t extract enough flavour, resulting in a flat, bland tasting cup of coffee. As I said it’s the little things that make all the difference!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Life is short so just go for it! This was hammered home to me earlier this year when I was seriously ill and ended up being rushed to hospital and having a major operation. Lying in a hospital bed with a lot of uncertainty about your future makes you realise what is important and trust me it is not making more money for somebody else! If you have an idea or a dream don’t wait, you will not regret it one bit.
Thanks Kris!
You can read more about eightpointnine here, or visit the eightpointnine website here.