Coffee is the second largest consumed beverage after water.1 Fifty-four percent of Americans drink coffee everyday; eighty-six of the daily coffee drinkers drank coffee at home yesterday.2 Kelvin Foster and his wife, both daily coffee drinkers, used to spend a small fortune on their daily coffee habit. Recognizing an opportunity, Kelvin became an independent distributor for Organo Gold (http://www.linkedin.com/in/kelvinfoster). Organo Gold is one of the newest entrants into the burgeoning $90 billion coffee industry. Organo Gold offers gourmet beverages—coffee, tea, and hot chocolate—and beauty products infused with Ganoderma.
I recently had an opportunity to chat with Kelvin about his fourteen months with Organo Gold and how he came to be a part of the direct sales industry:
Question – Can you tell me a little bit about your started investigation into direct sales and how you ended with Organo Gold as your product?
The direct-sales industry came to me by accident. I wasn’t looking for the industry. I was invited to a meeting to see about a business opportunity but when I saw the product (coffee) I never thought about the business opportunity. I looked at it as a consumer, which I guess most of us generally do look at things from a consumer point of view. In 2009, my wife and I spent over $2,000 on our debit card transactions alone at a popular coffee shop. I wanted to invest in the coffee shop, but I never saw the opportunity to invest because they don’t franchise. Buying the stock is pretty much the only way you can get involved with them. I was having some health challenges when I came out to the meeting and they talked about coffee and the health benefits of Ganoderma. I thought “Wow!”, and they said you can purchase your own coffee and get paid for it. My wife and I are in the food and beverage industry, we own a catering company here in the Houston area, so it made sense to serve and drink our own coffee. So that’s pretty much how I got introduced to the industry of direct sales.
Q – Along with your Organo Gold Distributorship and the catering business you work a full-time job and you and your wife have four children. Do you find it hard to balance all of the activity associated with three professional endeavors and a busy family life?
I think you need to focus on time management and being prepared. It’s a matter of allocating time to those things that matter most. Our family comes first so we have set aside quality time for us all. This gives us the peace of mind to work on our business ventures. We committed to sacrificing a little time in the short-term in order to reap the long-term benefits of financial freedom. We decided to allocate our non-productive time to our business ventures.
Q – We’re at the Organo Gold University located at the Galleria mall in Houston. What is this facility used for?
The Organo Gold University is our training facility where we do our business overview meetings and training for new and existing distributors on all of the details needed to be successful in the industry. The training is ongoing because in the direct sales industry most people are not necessarily entrepreneurs when they get involved in the industry. Here at Organo Gold University we focus on personal growth and development, which is really the foundation of anyone’s success in the direct sales industry and particularly with Organo Gold International.
Q – What have you found most challenging about the direct sales industry and making the transition from your day job to being in direct sales with Organo Gold?
Educating people about the industry. There are some myths associated with the industry of direct sales that people have accepted as truth. That’s probably the biggest challenge. Most people are not aware that the industry is a viable option to earn income.
Q – You mentioned myths, can you elaborate? What are the biggest myths and your reality?
The first thing that I encounter is “Is that one of those pyramid schemes?” That’s the term that is associated with direct sales that shows that people have heard about the industry but haven’t investigated for themselves. They’re going on what someone has told them, someone else’s experience but haven’t really done their own research. What people fail to realize is that it is the same organizational structure of any business.
Q – You mention that the biggest myth is that of a pyramid scheme but there are many recognizable and high-power brands that were built primarily on a direct sales growth engine—Mary Kay, Avon, Amway—do you have any thoughts on how a start-up direct sales company breaks the myth-based barrier and gets to that level of acceptability these larger direct-sales-based organizations enjoy?
I would use Organo Gold as an example of what needs to be done. Organo Gold’s leadership has experience in the direst sales industry. In the beginning, Organo Gold established a collaboration with the Napoleon Hill Foundation. If you look at the industry of direct sales or business in general, the book Think & Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill, is the second bestselling book after the Bible. Many successful people have attributed their success to this book. So by establishing this strategic collaboration, which the Foundation has never done with any other company, lends to our credibility. People want to know if the company and leadership of a start-up have the experience and credibility necessary to succeed in the long-term. We have this at Organo Gold.
Q – From a direct sales perspective, how do you see direct sales principles being applied to other businesses. What have you learned from your efforts to help other entrepreneurs in getting their business started?
Business 101- simply supply and demand. As an entrepreneur, you must meet an existing demand or create one. The next thing is establishing key relationships and a team that will help you to market your product and/or services. As an entrepreneur, it is important to establish your vision and share it with your potential customers and/or business partners.
Q – How does the Organo Gold model work? Do you seek out distributees that work for you in a specific territory or area?
It’s Easy, It’s Simple, It’s Coffee. We simply do what people do every single day; the only difference is we get paid for it. I am referring to telling someone about a product, service, restaurant, or movie. Our product is Ganoderma. We share a cup of coffee and an opportunity. Each individual determines how they want to leverage the opportunity, either by becoming a customer or a business partner. You are in business for yourself but you’re not in business by yourself. Our leadership team has put together a system for success that assists each business partner reach their goals. We’re currently in 16 countries, so if I connect with a potential business partner in another city or foreign country the system we have in place will help assimilate them to Organo Gold.
Q – How has the reception of the Organo Gold coffee through your catering company?
Great! In order to expose as many people to our products we opened a kiosk at the mall. This allowed us to get instant feedback and retail a lot of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. We gave out samples and we sold the coffee and hot chocolate by the cup. People loved it. The average coffee drinker simply wants to know if it is coffee. The price point was very interesting, we did comparisons with other coffee shops in the area, including the number one coffee seller in the area. Even though we were offering an unknown brand, we determined that we could maintain a healthy price point without a drop in sales.
Q – How are the products sold?
We sell the coffee by the box. We do have a brewed version through a partnership with Jamaica Blue Mountain. We don’t have retail outlets, but if a person that owned a coffee shop, restaurant, or any retail outlet wanted to carry Organo Gold products, they could do so by becoming a wholesale distributor. They would be able to obtain signage and marketing materials through Organo Gold.
Q – Did you have any challenges unique to the direct-sales model or was it a pretty smooth transition into your distributorship?
The system that the leadership has put in place really allows a distributor with no industry experience or someone who has been successful in other industries to become successful with Organo Gold. The key is following the system.
Q – Do you have any advice for someone interested in starting their own business or getting into a direct-sales opportunity? How do you recognize an opportunity?
First, know your reason (your “WHY”) for starting a business. Next, evaluate all options and the market. Finally, be patient and choose a mentor that will help you through the process. The direct sales industry provides the freedom and flexibility that many traditional business owners find elusive because they don’t have the benefit of leverage. Robert Kiyosaki speaks about business owners having to work harder and longer because they are the business.
Q – Can you share your thoughts on coffee as a product in the direct-sales model?
It all comes back to supply and demand. If there is no demand for your product, even though its great or your service is great, but there is no demand for it you won’t make any money. Coffee is the second traded commodity next to oil. Coffee is also the most consumed beverage next to water. Generally when people look at direct sales and think about having a warehouse of product stored in my house, I don’t want to spend all this money and not actually make any money. Coffee is in such high demand the last thing distributors have to worry about is how to get rid of the product. Coffee is really the ideal product because you don’t have to “sell” it. This is why many people with no experience in the industry are doing well and those with experience are breaking records. You don’t have to remind people to drink coffee in the same way you have to remind them to take their vitamins. Both are healthy and good for us but people are in the habit of drinking a cup of coffee. As the saying goes “eat an apple a day, keep the doctor away” but how many people actually eat an apple every day? That’s the genius of Organo Gold, being able to infuse something that’s healthy into something that people consume every day.
Q – Do you have any parting thoughts to share?
I would suggest for anyone that is considering starting their own business, is to have an open mind. Most people work a traditional job because that is how we’ve been trained . . . go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a good education, get that dream job, and work that dream job . . . what we’re finding is that the way our economy is that paradigm is no longer necessarily true. One of the things I’ve found with the direct sales industry is that you can pursue your passion and make money at the same time. There are alternatives to the traditional nine to five that will provide the time and money needed to accomplish your goals and dreams. You owe it to yourself to at least take a look at an opportunity.
If you’re in the Houston, Texas area and need a caterer check out the Foster’s catering company What’s the Occasion? Catering.
Footnotes: 1. Brittany Glenn, Golden Opportunity, Success From Home, March 2012, at 48. 2. Amy Burgess, Dancing Goats Discover Black Gold, Success From Home, March 2012, at 20.