Over the past four years I’ve had three encounters with David Beach, who is now the co-owner of Backporch Coffee Roasters in Bend, Oregon.

  1. He was in my “how to start a business” class at the University of Oregon. He wanted to start a coffee roasting business in Bend. He was a couple of years older than most undergrads, married, studious and convincing. He did an excellent business plan for a coffee roasting business in Bend.
  2. Then I happened to meet up with him on the streets of Bend a couple of years later. He was working as an employee of a coffee roasting business in Bend. He said then that it was too soon to start his own business. But he was still focused on doing it eventually, and working in that field helped him learn the business.
  3. Just a few weeks ago I met up with him again in Bend, this time as co-owner (with his wife Majell, both of them in the picture here) of a new coffee roasting business. It turns out that one cold morning I wandered into the new coffee location at the corner closest to my daughter and son-in-law’s house in Bend, and there was David, behind the counter, as the founder and owner of the business he wanted.

So that makes me very happy. When you teach “starting a business”, it’s nice to see some of the students actually doing it, and doing it well. I posted a few months ago about the Trunk Club, another business by one of my students who was looking at that kind of business while in my class.

David’s a very good example of sticking to your goals. He wanted to do this business when he was still in school. He worked in the same business arena after finishing school and, when the opportunity to start his own business appeared, he jumped.

By the way, he and Majell are clearly loving the business and making very good coffee as well. It’s more than a year old now and going strong. I see from a Web search that it’s well represented in the local guide websites, has a bike group that meets there and gets pretty good press.

I asked David to share. How did it go, how did he get it up and running? I’ll let him tell the story.

Back in August of 2005 I went out to lunch with Don. He is the president of a brokerage here in town, and I have known him for years. Wanting to get away from wholesale, which is what my employer was doing, I mentioned to Don a desire to move to Portland for roasting (Portland is the center for some of the world’s best coffee). Don immediately shifted the conversation to creating a company here in Bend. I was definitely taken aback but was interested, as he was basically offering to fund a potential great company. I told him I’d be interested and, within minutes of our lunch, he was networking with a friend in commercial real estate to find us a location. Crazy how fast it all started!

We looked at many locations around Bend with the goal to find one on the west side. We considered many downtown due to so much new construction. I was still working my day job when I heard that [my company was] going to give up [its] prime location on the west side. I had to go for it. We were first on the list to get into it, and the list was very competitive. We had to prove with some financial forecasting that we could do it and, a couple of weeks later, heard that we got the spot.

Shortly thereafter my employer had heard that a coffee company had taken the old spot (not knowing that it was yours, truly) so they decided to pay empty rent for three months to sway their customers to their other locations. June 2006 came around, though, and they gave up on their empty rent payments and we got the building. At the same time, I gave my notice and was revealed as the new tenant. As you can guess they weren’t happy, but they had a backup roaster in place and, with my month’s notice, I felt all went well.

July we started tearing out the old, junky cabinets and redid the whole place. October 11 we opened doors with a customer lineup, and the rest has been slowly building business, creating Bend’s best coffee and trying to build a steady clientele.

So that’s a nice example of how businesses get going and, in this case, succeed. I asked David some specific questions, more details, and I’ll pass that along, too:

What has suprised me most is the community’s acceptance of us. We were immediately put in the Bend Bulletin numerous times, put in Bend Living magazine and were written up in the The Source a few times. I am surprised with the growth and how fast we have become popular in Bend. Within a year we are a successful, money-making business. Our second month into business we had profit.

From the get-go it took a lot of time, stress on my wife and [me], and some very long hours were worked. Since then my wife now works less than 40 hours, and I am down to about 55 hours a week. Pretty good hours, I’d say.

As far as a business plan goes, we wrote up a semi business plan to start. It wasn’t as detailed as the one that I wrote for your class at U of O. Our numbers were surprisingly close, although we were able to do our startup for less than we had planned. My business partner is very surprised how well we are doing. Since startup he hasn’t contributed an additional dime to the company. We are now well-staffed with five employees, one full-time and four part-time. We went ahead and hired an accountant to do books for at least the first year, which has been “spendy,” but well worth it.

So there you have it, from idea to plan to up and running. And if you’re in Bend looking for good coffee, Backporch is the place. It’s on Newport Road, right next to the Newport Market, very close to Nancy P’s.

And last night David sent me an update: They’re looking at a second location, and they will be in Bend’s new Whole Foods market, too.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.