Based in the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park campus, Mopet Coffee helps students and lecturers to kick-start their day with a strong, productivity-boosting shot of coffee. Mopet started out as a logo and a plan to be a convenient place on campus get the best African fair-trade coffee, but today is turning into something more.
Modibe Matsepane’s friends loved his vision and backed him with crowdfunding. Since, then, the business has flourished. GoDaddy talks to Modibe about campus entrepreneurship and his dream of creating a national, African-centric chain of coffee shops.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: Tell us about your business.
Mopet Coffee serves premium hot and cold espresso-based beverages and light bites to the University of Johannesburg community. This includes iced coffees, cappuccinos, lattes, Africanos, espressos and healthy smoothies.
Q: What first got you interested in or excited about this line of work?
I drank a lot of coffee during my varsity years and I was intrigued to understand why most people drink coffee every day. Coffee fuels productivity in many parts of the world. Yet consumption is quite low in Africa, despite the fact that coffee has its origins in the continent. It was clear to me that this is an industry with so much potential to grow.
Q: What first steps did you take to launch the business?
I considered the resources at my disposal and I realised that I had nothing to start with besides my logo and a few mockups. I used these to sell my idea to my friends and they assisted me with crowdfunding the business. I went on to secure a spot to sell my coffee on campus where I have studied for the past six years.
Q: What sets you apart from other businesses in your market?
The quality of the coffee we serve, the look and feel of our packaging, along with our lean business model.
Q: What were some specific obstacles you faced in your first year?
Getting the location to operate from, and accessing finance for the equipment and tools we needed to start working.
Q: What steps did you take to overcome them?
I went for a collaborative business model. I partnered with an existing store that does not sell coffee and accessed finance by crowdfunding within my circle of friends.
Q: Thinking about the business you’ve built, what makes you the proudest?
Seeing brand presence and demand grow for Mopet Coffee and successfully venturing into an industry perceived to be white-dominated.
Q: What are some of the best things about working for yourself?
You determine the level of risk you will take to attain your business goals. Too much kills and too little keeps the business dull. You are responsible for everything that happens in your life – effort is directly related to output.
Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?
Nobody has everything figured out. The quest for a better way to serve customers is what separates merely good from truly great businesses and ultimately determines which ones remain relevant to customers over the longer term.
Q: What advice would you give to people thinking about starting a small business?
Understand that you don’t need to know everything about business to start. Be willing to do what doesn’t seem logical at first and to allow your idea to evolve into something you might not have had in mind. The business model changes daily.
Q: Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Nationwide brand with over 100 stores where people can enjoy great African coffee.
Products and tools
Q: Why did you decide to set up a website for your business?
Online presence was the biggest reason for setting up the website
Q: Why did you choose GoDaddy to put your business online?
GoDaddy demonstrated that they care about their prospects by organising workshops to show how the platform works in a more focused approach. That got me hooked and I wanted to be associated with such a brand.
Q: Can you tell us about what it was like using the GoDaddy Websites + Marketing?
The platform is user-friendly and positions you as an expert in your field with its industry templates. I loved that because I wanted a do-it-yourself solution and the Websites + Marketing allowed me to do just that and I can always edit and change up my website whenever I needed to.