Known for its in-house roasted fair trade beans, high quality products, and strategically selected locations across Ontario, Balzac's Coffee Roasters may have created the perfect blend of coffee branding.
YouInc.com was invited to the grand opening of Balzac's Coffee Roasters latest space at the new Image Centre on the Ryerson University Campus, and we thought it was a great opportunity to find out what it takes to launch a venture of this stature.
VP's Cathy Segeren and Fabiola Silander said they were thrilled with the expansion — their seventh location — yet remain diligent on brand quality. Cathy said, "We get approached to open locations across North America on a weekly basis, but we are very selective." Fabiola added, "Maintaining the brand values can become more difficult as the brand grows, and the key is to keep a close eye on quality, which is not something we can do if we were to open a Balzac's in New York City."
The opening of Balzac's on Ryerson's urban campus is a perfect match for its own branding mantra and for the school's administrative mandate. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy told YouInc.com they wanted an innovative and interesting business to occupy the new space. "By nature, Ryerson is fond of entrepreneurialism and we were looking for small entrepreneurs that are edgy, unique, and differentiate themselves, in order to complement who Ryerson is."
When both Ryerson and Balzac's were prepared to proceed with a deal, raising capital became the final roadblock. Enter Arlene Dickinson and Bruce Croxon from CBC's Dragon's Den. Balzac's appeared in season six of the show with the Ryerson proposal on the table. Both Arlene and Bruce praised the branding and believed this was a company ready for success.
"Balzac's has a strong vision for their business and have done a great job with consistent branding across their locations. The new Balzac's at Ryerson is a beautiful space to enjoy an exceptional cup of coffee," said Arlene Dickinson.
In addition to the expansion, the Balzac's team features an altruistic item on their menu. Partnering with Canadian icon Margaret Atwood, they have created a certified "Bird Friendly" blend, to help raise funds and awareness for Canada's Pelee Island Bird Observatory.
Ryerson students now have their chance to try the Bird blend or many other tasty treats, but President Levy hopes students will get more from their visit than a great cup of coffee.
"I hope students will be encouraged to see themselves as entrepreneurs and question if they want to work for themselves or start a company".
When asked if Levy had some final noteworthy advice for budding entrepreneurs, he said, "Only the scary dreams — the ones that keep you up at night — have a chance at success."
Sheldon Levy's entrepreneurial advice has left us wondering — what scary dreams keep you up at night?
Click here to watch the Dragons Den update video with Balzac's.
Ribbon Cutting at Balzac's Grand Opening on the Ryerson University Campus with John Corallo, Sheldon Levy, Graeme Gibson, Diana Olsen, Bruce Croxon, and Ron Duke.
By Conrad Page, YouInc Columnist