NICK BAYER, 36, of Center City, is founder and CEO of Saxbys Coffee, which operates 30 cafes in eight states and the District of Columbia, including 11 locations in Philadelphia. Bayer, a Cornell grad and Chicago native, founded the company in 2005 in Atlanta and moved operations to the Philly area in 2007.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Saxbys?
A: I love positive, upbeat environments. The product has always been sort of a secondary thing. I was more interested in a place where all kinds of people could come together.
Q: Startup money?
A: Personal savings and maxing out my American Express card, about $150,000.
Q: Why did you move here?
A: My first [outside] investor was a local real-estate developer and he gave us some property in Lansdale. He told me that real estate was going to be key to [Saxbys] success.
Q: The Saxbys brand?
A: We're in the people business. When we interview and train people to work here or become franchise partners, the first three days they don't even touch any equipment. We don't teach how to make lattes or smoothies, we teach how to treat customers.
Q: The biz model?
A: From the start, franchising was at our core. We pursued that 100 percent until about two years ago, and then we reached a turning point after we were acquired by a private-equity group in Radnor. That enabled us to invest more in the business.
Q: What do you mean?
A: You can't be a great franchisor and teach people how to run franchises profitably unless you can do it yourself. After being acquired, we were able to open some corporate cafes, which helped us run our business better. It's now 70 percent franchise and 30 percent corporate cafes.
Q: What differentiates Saxbys from other coffee brands?
A: Specialty drinks. We have more than 200 flavor combinations, lattes, dairy or non-dairy, fresh-fruit smoothies and tea lattes.
Q: Your customers?
A: We serve 15,000 customers daily. We have cafes in college, suburban, urban and kiosk settings. All cater to different consumers, but a typical customer is 16 to 45, a professional female with a busy lifestyle.
Q: How big a biz is this?
A: We did north of $10 million in revenue last year. We're on pace to increase revenue by 40 percent this year. We have 550 to 600 employees.
Q: What's next?
A: We're working with the city to relocate our headquarters [from Delaware County] this summer. We want to put our flag in Philadelphia, and I want to be in all the iconic places here.