How the founder’s story guides Starbucks

Founder Story Starbucks

Almost every company’s history includes a story about “how it all started.” The origin story of the company reveals the core values and philosophy upon which the company was founded. At the heart of most such stories is a founder who was motivated by passion and a desire to make a difference.

The Story of the Coffee Retailer

One such founder story is that of Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks.  Schultz writes in his book Pour Your Heart Into It, “… (we) never set out to build a brand. Our goal was to create a great company that stood for something, that valued the authenticity of its product and the passion of its employees.”

Schultz was born and raised in the Brooklyn housing projects. Due to a lack of money, both parents worked long hours to support the family. Schultz was deeply moved as a child when he witnessed his father suffer from a broken ankle. His father struggled to pay for medical bills because he had no health or insurance benefits. His father had never risen above low-wage jobs and was treated badly by his bosses.

This made a notable impression on Schultz. He resolved that if he ever found himself in a position where he could make a difference, he would not abandon people.

Years later, on a sales trip to Seattle, he discovered and fell in love with premium coffee. He persuaded Starbucks’ founders to hire him as their director of marketing and operations, where he laid the groundwork for the international premium coffee empire.

He discovered the allure of cafe culture while on a business trip to Italy. He realised that the beverage was only half the appeal of premium coffee. The personal connection to coffee and the aspect of socializing over coffee was a revelation to him.

This realisation prompted him to leave the company and open several cafes. He eventually returned to Starbucks to buy it and transform it into what it is today. While coffee became his passion, he never forgot his mission of “…creating a company I wish my father worked for.” Schultz and the company were guided throughout by this deep sense of human values.

Guiding principles

These principles have guided the company in implementing compassionate practices such as employee health insurance, extensive training and development, and equity sharing.

Knowing a company’s origins gives its employees a sense of belonging. It serves as a guidepost when making decisions about the company’s future.

What’s the founder story of your company? Let us know.

About The Author
Vinod Krishna

Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in storytelling, communication and leadership development.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn

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