Like most entrepreneurial ventures, it
all started with a problem. The catalyst
for AnyCafé was a chilly classroom and
a desire for a hot cup of coffee, which
propelled Logan Carlson and his team
onto the path of entrepreneurship in
the midst of completing their college
education. An idea was born—what if
there was a travel mug that allowed
you to brew coffee wherever you are?
Immediately Logan went out and
bought supplies to see if he could create a makeshift prototype. By taking a
hacksaw to a travel mug and a coffeemaker, he found that
the idea was feasible, and decided to pursue it.
The first step was participating in the annual 3-Day
Start-Up (3DS) program at Western New England University. This national organization holds events at colleges and
universities throughout the country, putting students in an
intense and hands-on environment. Over a long weekend,
students get a crash course in a variety of entrepreneurial
skills such as idea formation, market research, rapid prototyping, and pitching a final product. The AnyCafé team
took its idea with them to 3DS and ran with it. By the end
of the weekend, their vision was significantly honed and
they were ready to seriously pursue building AnyCafé from
a concept to a real company.
Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), an entrepreneurial community that nurtures start-up companies, provided mentors to the 3DS program, and encouraged AnyCafé to apply
for VVM’s Accelerator program, a start-up incubator that
speeds up the development of entrepreneurial ventures,
AnyCafé was accepted into the program and participated in a four-month
bootcamp, essentially a deep dive in
how to better the business and acquire
customers. In the end, AnyCafé was
awarded $6,000 in grant money,
which was used to pay for incorporation and a quality prototype.
However, they say the best reward was becoming a part of the
“We received amazing advice
from tons of successful entrepreneurs
in the Pioneer Valley,” said Logan.
The journey to get AnyCafé off
the ground hasn’t been without its
challenges. From high production
costs, searching for sourcing and
assembly resources, on-boarding
new team members, and the other
endless details that come with creating a brand-new business, every
success has been hard-won.
While this process sounds fairly
typical for most entrepreneurial
ventures, keep in mind that the creators of AnyCafé were college students juggling classes, homework, and extracurricular
activities, along with having their own business. Logan in
particular had balanced academic research he did with
with the College of Pharmacy on how curcumin suppressed
food allergies, as well as a two-time internship with Corning Incorporated. He says that in between some sleepless
nights and missed classes, his professors have been accommodating, but not overindulgent, and that he has found the
right mix between being successful in academics and business, without sacrificing the college experience.
The future of AnyCafé looks bright, between an official
product delivery date scheduled for late 2017, an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign, partnership
with a distributor, and even office space in downtown
Springfield. AnyCafé is looking forward to not only changing the way people have their coffee, but also creating their
own careers, and down the road, mentoring other new entrepreneurs themselves. They even have working ideas for
their next products.
Logan has seen personal growth and success throughout
the process. This past fall, he had the opportunity to give a
TEDx speech about the challenges AnyCafé faced as it
started from the ground up, using an extended metaphor
of the twists and turns of a road trip.
As much of the AnyCafé team graduated this May, they
will move on to their new office space, and pursue their
business full-time, something Logan is looking forward to,
although he admits that he will miss having access to Sleith
Hall, and the benefits to being a student.
“Western New England is good at opening doors,” he
said. “There are so many people here, from alumni, to faculty, and the Board of Trustees, who are willing to help you.
Western New England has built such a strong community.
If you can tap into that, you can do pretty much anything
you want.” n
To learn more about AnyCafé, visit anycafecoffee.com.
If you’d like to view Logan’s TEDx Talk, it is available on You Tube.
“We received amazing advice
from tons of successful entrepreneurs in the Pioneer Valley.
Our mentors have shaped
AnyCafé into what it is now, and
helped us develop our policy of
being completely open, honest,
and transparent with them, our
employees, and most importantly,