Captain Coffee – the 4 D’s to live by
In 1996, a year after being part of the dream team that took the Springboks to victory in the Rugby World Cup, Kobus Wiese embarked on what initially looked like a venture set for dismal failure. Together with his wife Belinda, he’d invested in a coffee franchise in East Rand mall, and soon realised that things weren’t going well.
“To start with, we’d paid too much for it, and had climbed in without any experience, assistance or training,” he recalls. “We received little support from the franchisors and were forced into survival mode, working seven days a week to keep the store going. With no prior food industry knowledge, it was an extremely steep learning curve.”
However, Wiese had long held onto a dream of working for himself in the food industry. “I used to help my mom cook and have always enjoyed it very much, and my travels to France and Italy further ignited an appreciation for good coffee culture, something which was very much lacking locally at the time.” Spotting this gap in the market, and employing the four D’s he lives by –
- dedication and
–Wiese made the decision in 1998 to start importing his own coffee beans to support the business, which led to the creation of the Wiesenhof Coffee brand. This was the turning point; before they knew it, he and Belinda were being approached by people interested in franchising the brand.
Over the next 15 years the brand would grow exponentially, and by the end of 2015 there will be over 100 stores across the country. This includes Wiesenhof coffee shops as well as 42 Dulcé stores, a brand which they acquired a 70% stake in in 2015.
“We certainly made mistakes along the way, but I think the key is that we learned from them. Success is not about winning all the time – we all face our failures. It’s about being determined to get up again when you fall, and not letting fear hold you back.”
Wiese adds that it’s important to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and put in the long hours, which you will do if you believe in yourself and in the business.” Some other business tips are to be willing to learn, to practice what you preach, and to have the same passion you expect from others.”
Wiese says that his goal for the future is to become the leading coffee brand in South Africa – a truly local brand – as well as creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs with expansion into the rest of the country and Africa. The match is on…
First published in Your Business Magazine