Foundry Coffee has stopped developing it’s prototypes, stopped doing all the things that start up teams typically do, and has sat dormant for months. Foundry Coffee Company is officially over. There are many things we could explain, perhaps another time, but this is going to be a story about re-framing failure. This story is about showing that our efforts lead to benefits that are more varied, hidden, and indirect than simply the cliche of “If I do X, then I will receive Y.”
The myth of Sisyphus is a great illustration of this cliche. As mentioned in one of our early posts, the King Sisyphus is given the eternal punishment of pushing a boulder up a hill, only to have it slip from his grasp just as he reaches the top, rolling to the base of the hill where he must start anew. The boulder is a goal; singular, simplistic, easy enough to understand as a bed time story. If we left it at the boulder, the myth is about being perpetually haunted by setbacks, unmet aspiration, the obsessive pursuit of a goal driven life. But what if we retold this myth? What if we focused less on the boulder, and instead took a step back and expanded the story? What if Sisyphus met people on his journey up the hill each time? What if people helped him on his way up? What if he achieved other goals as he toiled after his boulder? What if pushing the boulder is life itself and that a better man, one full of experience and character, surrounded by friends he met along the way sits at the top of his push and looks down at the slipped boulder knowing that someone will benefit from his help as they push their boulder?
I would like to think that Foundry Coffee has been a smaller version of this retold Sisyphean myth because I have met so many wonderful people these past few years, and without those experiences, I don’t think I would stand the same man that I am today.
Along the way and among the many I met over the past two years in coffee, I met the owners of a wonderful coffee shop in my home town of Grand Rapids, Kurt and Steve of Rowster Coffee. Kurt was nice enough to provide a couple hours for a discussion of everything coffee. I wanted to discuss Foundry’s efforts to create an espresso machine, which we scrapped months later, but Kurt was nice enough to provide his feedback. We stayed in touch by email from time to time, but life moved on and figured this relationship would be little more than a friendly contact and an insightful customer discovery interview.
A little over a year would pass. My wife and I moved back to Grand Rapids. We started new full-time positions. I had fallen out of contact with the Rowster guys and started networking back into the local start up scene. A very charitable guy by the name of Paul Moore from Start Garden had connected me to a few businesses in the area that were looking for advisement. One day he put me in touch with Kurt and Steve, unbeknownst to him that we knew each other quite well. They had a new concept coffee brand called Regular Coffee that aimed to upend what customers have come to expect from packaged coffee. Regular aims to make a great coffee service that tailors itself to your preferences and becomes the only cup of coffee you’ll need throughout your busy life.
Fast forward to the present and it looks as though I’ve come full circle and find myself working in coffee again. I am very excited to see what we can do with the Regular service in the coming year. I will try not to worry about the top of the hill so much and focus more on who I meet and what I learn while pushing this boulder up the hill again.
Thank you again to everyone that helped us over the past two years and we wish you the very best going forward.
All the Best,