ENTERPRISING STUDENT FINDS THE RIGHT BLEND

Written on the 28 May 2013

What started as a hobby for Nicholas Pearce has become a serious business venture for the budding entrepreneur.

All the 21-year-old wanted was a decent coffee. After travelling to Brisbane twice a week for his fix, he decided to start his own café. Blackboard Coffee was born.

Pearce, who moved to the Gold Coast from Melbourne to study a Bond University Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship), says the $10,000 capital he invested quickly ensured the business had to be  more than a leisure pursuit.

“It has been hard work, at one stage I was doing four subjects at university while working 60-70 hours per week at the café,’’ he says.

“I have started spending a bit more on wages to get the balance right and that has been really beneficial.”

In just two years, the Varsity Lakes café has hit the $1 million revenue mark. Pearce has doubled turnover from his first 12 months of operation and has grown his staff from two to 13.

The young entrepreneur is preparing to open two new coffee stores in the next year, at Surfers Paradise and Capri Villa Roma. He hopes to triple company revenue.

Pearce says Blackboard Coffee has been founded on an ethos of quality. It sources produce locally where it can, keeps produce seasonal and can trace the origins of its coffee to the exact plot of land where it was grown.

Customer choices also are important at Blackboard. Rather than simply choosing between a cappuccino and flat white, Blackboard customers can decide daily between two espresso coffee options and a variety of filter brew methods.

“We start with the best end-product, and then work backwards to see how we can get it there consistently,” says Pearce.

He believes he has brought something new to the city’s café scene.

“When I started, the Gold Coast was like a blank canvas, I don’t believe anyone else was doing what we were.”

Pearce will expand the Varsity Lakes café in order to begin roasting his own beans.


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