Jacob Jaber

CEO of Philz, bettering peoples day with a cup of love (aka coffee)

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 20, 2015

Discussion

Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
Hi I'm Jacob and I'm super excited to be here today! So, a bit about me - at around the age of 18 I started running Philz Coffee full-time with the help of my dad. As things got moving and I found myself spending all of my energy on growing the business, I decided to drop out of college to focus all my attention on Philz. I'm incredibly proud to say that the hard work and passion is paying off with Philz having since grown from 1 location to over 20 locations across 3 markets, with more on the way :) And has established Philz as one of the best coffee shops in the U.S. My plan is to reinvent the coffee experience 1 store 1000 times. Ask me anything.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Glad you could join us, @jacobjaber! As you know, I created the Product Hunt "MVP" (an email list) at Philz on Golden Gate ave (and still go there almost daily). As a long-time fan, I've noticed a few very thoughtful, smart design decisions you've made in crafting the product and community at Philz. I wrote about them in Pando a few years ago. Can you share some other "easter eggs" or ways you've built community and such a fanatic audience at Philz?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@rrhoover hi ryan! i love design thinking and we use the methodology lots at philz. It's about "being the customer" or "empathizing." We really focused on creating the best customer experience possible but so much of that is reliant on the success of our team members which drives our focus internally on creating an amazing team member experience. Our retention rates are really high because of our awesome people, leaders and culture but we got more work to do and can't take our foot of the pedal for one second. -focus on hiring and developing a great team -better the customers days (that's our mission and everyones job descriptions - simple, powerful and effective)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@jacobjaber you've raised $30M in venture funding from tech investors like Cowboy VC, CrunchFund, SherpaCapital, and @SnoopDogg. Why?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@rrhoover we have an ambitious vision and are off to a great start. Raising capital allows us to hire teams and build infrastructure to have the ability to scale quality before actually scaling growth. And our investors are all fans! We really love them and they are rooting for us.
Snoop Dogg@snoopdogg · The Doggfather
@rrhoover @jacobjaber he knows I have good insights into natural organic ingredients!! Digg!
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@jacobjaber what does reinvent the coffee story mean to you? What specific elements have you focused on changing versus the ones you've decided to keep the same?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@corleyh changing the way people drink coffee. My dad has told me stories about what coffee did to people in the old days. People used to gather around each other (morning, day or night) and have a cup of coffee while socializing and connecting. Coffee has become a transaction. The philz experience is an extension of that spirit. We believe that the best coffee in the world is the one that comes to your taste. We believe in bringing people together. Coffee is community and that's an experience not a transaction and that's why the energy of our stores are more aligned with the authentic nature of the coffee experience
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@jacobjaber LOVE THIS! It makes me think of my grandfather. He used to go have coffee with his friends 'in town' nearly everyday. Those coffee conversations would take all forms...but at the center was always coffee. Now when I walk into Philz I'm going to have an even bigger smile on my face. 😀Thanks for the lovely story.
Noah Lichtenstein@noah_l · Partner, Cowboy Ventures
Hi @JacobJaber! Huge fan of you and @PhilzCoffee :) One thing that has always impressed me was the quality of the team at Philz. No matter what location I go to, the baristas are all friendly, knowledgeable, and distinctly "Philz." I'd love to learn how you go about building this culture and how you maintain consistency as the company expands. Thanks!
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@noah_l we are in the peoples business and our people are at the center of the experience. Scaling quality as it relates to people is really difficult but that's what i love about it. We are obsessed with hiring the right people because so much of the success of our business is reliant on the characteristics and values of the individual. Most other things can be learned. We hire nice people :)
Norm Liang@normanliang · VP of Growth, Sungy Mobile
@jacobjaber I enjoy listening to you talk about discovering your passions. What are your personal passions? How did you discover them? What advice do you have for people looking to identify those passions? How do you focus on improving your own personal passions?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@normanliang I love learning, teaching and inspiring others and making impact. I like to be at the intersection of those things. I believe i'm there with Philz. Discovering passions is about discovering yourself and to discover yourself you need to play. Explore, don't be stuck on a narrow road.
Norm Liang@normanliang · VP of Growth, Sungy Mobile
people talk about focused exploration. How do you focus so you don't go down every road?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@normanliang i think people have an idea of what they like so sticking in that area will allow you to narrow in on the gold..
Norm Liang@normanliang · VP of Growth, Sungy Mobile
What do you do to help you grow personally and professionally?
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
hey @Jacobjaber - thank you for taking the time and for your support throughout. What's the protocol for how you think about expanding? What do you need to be true in order to open another location?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@eriktorenberg 1 store 1000 times. Building a foundation that allows us to scale quality. We want to grow large while preserving and building on the quality standards we uphold today and that all comes back to people and continuing to procure the highest quality coffee. A few key ingredients we need to get right in quality and high in volume are: real estate, hiring the right people, quality training and development and the right leadership. Hope that answers your question a bit :)
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@jacobjaber I'm drinking philz at home right now 😃. What's your coffee setup at home like? What grinder do you have? What should I buy 💯
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@mscccc nice! i go to philz :) ... i have Tesora at home which is my fav and typically french press it when i make it at home but philz is my home
Victoria Najjar@victorianajjar
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions today! I am a big fan of Philz Coffee and have watched it rapidly expand in the last few months. What is your growth strategy for opening up in new markets / neighborhoods and how do you maintain the @PhilzCoffee quality as you scale - especially as you expand to the East Coast?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@victorianajjar hey! being relevant is important so we have "brand builders" that enter new markets ahead of our opening to connect with communities which helps build brand awareness and intel. Our first store was in the mission district in SF. So much demand built before our 2nd, 3rd, and so on.... stores we're opened which creates this local love and brand enthusiasm. It's about capturing and scaling the essence of that authentic story in new markets. Tough nut to crack but we are trying things. Bottom line is we are a local business wherever we serve and we need to remember that.
Andrzej Bakonski@andrzejb200sx · Stuff
What is your view on competitors? Do you ever focus on them and try to beat them with a better product or ignore them?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@andrzejb200sx competition is complimentary in so many cases. Competition forces the world to serve people better.
Victoria Najjar@victorianajjar
@PhilzCoffee prides itself on being sustainable and environmentally friendly - can you share a little bit about these "green" initiatives?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@victorianajjar Fortunately, our core product is compostable which is great news. Often times we offer our grounds to the local community for gardening and other purposes. Above and beyond that, we try to make compost/recycling bins convenient for customers and clear in terms of what goes where. Our cups are also compostable. We are in the process of working on making more of our products compostable.
Ryan Merket@merket · Product at Reddit
@jacobjaber I read somewhere that you don't do your own roasting or sourcing of beans. Is that true? Who does do your roasting for you? How do you maintain quality levels at scale if you are not doing the roasting yourself? Second question: I've noticed that if I leave a Philz coffee out and let it cool down, there is fat molecules on top. What type of fat/cream do you use in your coffee? And why do your baristas shake the milk before pouring it into the coffee?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@merket we have one of the most amazing directors of coffee in the world - literally. She focuses on procuring and roasting the best coffee possible. We've just secured a new roasting plant in oakland that's ~50k square feet where we will be doing all of our roasting. We hope to open it up to the public soon! If a customer wants half and half or cream, we use real cream which we love and we only need a little. We also have awesome soymilk, almond milk and lower fat dairy available. In my opinion our coffee is fantastic black as well - i recommend the New Manhattan.
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@jacobjaber Do you have a typical order? What's your favorite dark roast?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@corleyh tesora with honey and cream! amazing! for dark roast i like the jacobs - not because it has my name but because it's real good :)
Daniel Morse@dfmorse23 · LearnZillion
@jacobjaber some people say that caffeine is unhealthy and addicting ... what's your response to that and how do you think of Philz in that context?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@dfmorse23 There are benefits to coffee/caffeine. There is a lot of research out there. Everything in moderation at the end of the day but given that coffee is not bad for you (as long as your not drinking 25 cups a day) enjoy it and enjoy a lot of it :). It's all about being feeling good because that makes you happy. A cup of coffee and break to grab a philz should feel good and like a break - a moment of repose. So drink it if you like it and enjoy every sip.
Adam Newman@anewm85 · Founder, Ezra's
@jacobjaber I'd love to hear your thoughts on where you think the concept of the coffee shop is headed. Do you think it will continue down the path it is now or do you anticipate newcomers to the space will have to create something different to stand out? Or do you anticipate a shift towards other "third space" concepts like tea shops or juice bars?
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@jacobjaber What's training like for a new Philz barista? They are all so awesome. Do many come to Philz from other coffee shops? Do coffee shops poach from each other? 😃
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
We've build a University - Philz University. We go through an extensive training process because there is so much to learn and equipping our baristas with the knowledge, confidence and tools to be successful. It's funny because so many of our most successful team members don't have a coffee background and honestly I kind of prefer it because coffee can be taught - we are in the peoples business first.
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@jacobjaber thats awesome :) thank you!
Suzy Ryoo@suzywillow · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
Hi Jacob!! Thanks for going LIVE on Product Hunt! I experienced Philz for the first time 3 years ago thanks to some dear friends at Google in Mountain View. The Mocha Tesora (medium sweet) has been my go-to ever since... :) Congratulations on the 2nd Philz in LA, and in DTLA! How has the LA expansion been going and any interesting customer stories to share? Imagine Santa Monica & Hope Street are super different, and I'm curious how Hope Street is coming along over the past 10 days! Must make time to visit soon... cc @rrhoover ^^
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@suzywillow great to heat! LA is going great for us! Those stores are really busy and successful which is great. We have plans to open more stores in Southern California. We hope to open 4-6 in the next 16 months! Stay tuned :)
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
Thanks for the great conversation! This was awesome :)