When I was just starting out as an “entrepreneur”,  I split my time between working from my one-bedroom apartment and the nearest coffee shop. As much as I was able to accomplish from my apartment’s kitchen table, I loved the smell, the feel, the culture of the coffee shop. I felt an instant buzz (literally, figuratively) the moment I felt the warm coffee in my hands. It was always the spark I needed to brainstorm or think through a problem. Because of that, I figured out early on that there was something special about the coffee shop.

Years – and many startups later – my day still revolves around coffee. I stop at my favorite coffee shop for a great cup of joe first thing every morning. This is usually my time to think about the day ahead, but I can’t help but notice entrepreneurs talking about or pitching ideas in the shop, every morning, oftentimes before they head into their 9-5.  The culture of the coffee shop still supports the entrepreneurial spirit.

Given the nature of what I do, “the coffee meeting” has become a big part of my life.  Many days I meet people for coffee after lunch, so I hear my fair share of ideas or business problems and pitches. And I love it. I love it because an entrepreneur’s enthusiasm and optimism are truly contagious.  After the small talk and the quick overview, my wheels start turning. I’m always listening to the idea, but my mind is already working to solve distribution challenges, consider funding sources, shorten the pitch, imagine the marketing campaign. My mind is off and running, working through their idea with them, almost immediately. In that sense, these coffee meetings push me, challenge me, get my thinking ramped up is exciting for me.  I get tremendous value from these sessions.

I have more requests for coffee meetings than I could ever actually have. In an attempt to experiment with a new strategy, I started hosting a “coffee hour” with several entrepreneurs in the room. I can’t speak for all of them, but most told me it was a valuable experience.  But that is still only 20 entrepreneurs at a time. I want to help thousands of you.

The truth of the matter is this: If I could meet every entrepreneur who emails me and asks to pick my brain, I would. I want to hear what you’re up to, I want to share what’s worked for me or my startups, I want to feel my wheels turning on your idea. But, time and schedules and energy and attention make that tough. Which got me thinking…

How do I scale the coffee meeting?

Admittedly, I don’t have the answer yet. It’s a problem I intend to solve. BUT – I’m optimistic and enthusiastic I can because my wheels are turning and it is important.  

In the interim, I’ll be drinking coffee, wheels turning, thinking, creating.  And if you are in my inbox having requested a coffee meeting, I haven’t forgotten about you. If anything, you’re on my mind more so than ever before. And I thank you for that.