The story of about.me‘s creation tends to generate a lot of interest and conversation. “Why did we start about.me?” very quickly leads to “what are you going to do with it next?”
When I think about the “why” behind founding about.me, I tend to reflect on my own history with other founders. At True, we’ve been incredibly lucky to partner with amazing leaders (James Freeman at Blue Bottle Coffee, Matt Mullenweg at WordPress, Chris Anderson at 3DR, Ayah Bdeir at Little Bits, Bre Pettis at MakerBot, James Park at FitBit, Philip Rosedale at High Fidelity, and many more…). What we’ve learned from these inspiring Founders is that they do more than just create companies: these types of Founders start movements. It’s envisioning a way of life; a vision of how the world will be in spite of how people do things now (remember when we carried around maps…) It’s having a sense in your mind of knowing how people are going to use your product to impact their life, and through that vision a movement is sparked – it’s visionary.
The story of our Blue Bottle Coffee investment is a great example of a founder who is creating a movement. When we met James Freeman, it was instantly clear that his vision for Blue Bottle Coffee isn’t just about coffee drinks. It’s about so much more. What we saw and why we got involved, is that James and his team are part of a handful of people who are founding a movement around artisanal coffee. It’s not just the very specific experience around the coffee Blue Bottle Coffee roasts; it’s everything they do. The way they source the product, supporting farmers in developing regions of the world to grow the purest, highest quality organic beans that promote sustainability. The way they choose store locations that often act as a vote of confidence for a developing neighborhood. The way they serve the product [what cup, what glass, what temperature, single origin beans versus blended bean mixes, espresso drinks only on premise….] – thinking through every detail – to offer something beautiful in our daily lives. It’s a philosophy/an approach that has led to a movement around the integrity of experience around coffee.
It fits into a larger movement we’re all experiencing right now around a greater integrity in the experiences that we already have in our daily lives; we’re not just satisfied to have a meal, we want that meal to have greater integrity and be more aligned with our values. We want to know where the food is coming from; we want it to have a certain type of quality. This is happening in all aspects of life. We don’t just want to work for a living; we want to make a difference.
Our original investment in James, Blue Bottle, and their team was a fairly straight-forward decision given the company’s rapid growth, loyal following, founder vision, management team and potential for broader appeal. We see tremendous opportunity to grow this business in a manner that adheres to the principles it was founded. We believe Blue Bottle Coffee is at the forefront of a “consumer movement” or mega-trend in which consumers are moving to higher quality, artisanal, micro-roasters of coffee; where quality, attention to detail, beauty, and a distinctive experience are being sought over more mainstream alternatives. In addition, we believe the Blue Bottle Coffee brand and products appeal to — and are accessible to — a large audience of coffee drinkers who are increasingly interested in expanding their appreciation for fine coffee.
As we head into 2015, let’s raise a cup of excellence to the founders creating movements all around the world who have inspired us to play a role in building our collective future!
by Tony Conrad
Founder/ CEO about.me & Partner True Ventures