Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz – The Coffee Entrepreneur
Going to work first thing in a morning is never the same unless you stop for a cup of coffee on your way into the office, and the most common outlet to stop to get your caffeine hit is probably Starbucks. Having visited at least one of the world’s favorite coffee shops, you may be surprised to find out that Starbucks was the brainchild of one man. That man is Howard Schultz. The entrepreneur started out in Seattle in 1982 and is today worth $1.1 billion. It has certainly been a long journey for him and one that budding entrepreneurs can learn from.
The Boy From The Projects
Howard Schultz was born on July 19, 1953 in Brooklyn, New York. He was actually born into the projects and so his family had no money when the entrepreneur was growing up. His parents often struggled to make ends meet and so his childhood can only be described as uneventful. The struggles the entrepreneur saw his family go through made Schultz determined to make a better life for himself any way he could, which is why he worked so hard to earn a football scholarship to Northern Michigan University.
Although not an absolute academic, Schultz did well enough to graduate from Northern Michigan University with a degree in Communications in 1975. However, he worked a series of jobs in the years immediately after graduation to ease the burden on his family. Although the money was nice to have and was a great help, the entrepreneur was not happy with his lot. He wanted to be successful above all else, and it was this overriding ambition that took him directly to Starbucks in 1982.
The Beginning Of A New Era
Although Starbucks was already a business in Seattle when he joined in 1982, it was far from the global power that it is now. Schultz went straight in as the Director of Marketing and began to plan a revolution. His initial plan developed after a trip to Milan in Italy. He pitched an idea to the owners of the company that involved selling coffees that were based around espresso. Although the public loved them, the owners decided not to add the products to the menu and instead persevered with whole bean coffee and leaf teas.
Schultz considered their dismissal of his concept an insult and left Starbucks to open his own coffee shop. The entrepreneur opened Il Giornale in 1985 and his espresso products proved to be a huge hit, as he knew they would. The idea of basing a coffee shop on the Italian model was relatively innovative at that point in time and it made him more than enough money to buy the Starbucks owners out in 1987.
The entrepreneur’s passion for coffee was not the only quality that enabled him to expand the Starbucks brand over the next few years. Schultz was extremely shrewd and had a great head for business. As such, he recognized the importance of investing in his own buildings and expanding Starbucks’ operation base. Within a year, Starbucks outlets could be found throughout the United States and the company owns every single one of them with no at all.
The entrepreneur is undoubtedly most famous for his involvement in Starbucks but several other entrepreneurial ventures also succeeded, even if some of them did nothing for his public image. Schultz bought the Seattle SuperSonics, a NBA team, which earned him significant popularity in the city, but he also lost a lot of fans when he sold the team to a syndicate in 2006 for $350 million. Although it was excellent business for Schultz, the SuperSonics was moved to Oklahoma City and the entrepreneur got the blame.
Howard Schultz’s other interests include a large stake in Jamba Juice and an investment company called Maveron that was established in 1998. As such, the entrepreneur has come a long way since his early childhood in the projects of Brooklyn. He is living proof that it can be done.