We recently had a very stimulating and insightful discussion with entrepreneur John Puckett. You can see the podcast here.
With his wife, John started Caribou Coffee, a chain of coffee shops which were and are quite competitive with Starbucks. The Pucketts, both with MBA degrees, turned their vocations away from large firms to start their own business. As they grew, they accepted minority investors, but later found a divergence of priorities between the investors and themselves. They sold the company to start another.
Their new company is Punch Pizza here in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
John joked with us that both companies grew out of determined entrepreneurs in Naples, Italy, to overcome constraints imposed by living in a poorer part of the country. Finding Arabica coffee beans too expensive, they invented the expresso process to get quality flavor from the cheaper Robusta beans. With pizza, they invented a satisfactory food from cheap ingredients: flour, water and yeast.
What impressed me about John’s approach to capitalism was his intuitive regard for employees as an important capital asset.
Please do watch our discussion.