Perhaps you’ve already seen them in their crisp white kicks and bond-style shades cruising the city. Or, better yet, maybe you’ve found them under the sun in Bastion Square, laughing it up as they create a perfect cup of Woody’s Nitro Brew Coffee.
Meet Owain and Andrew – the inventive coffee lovers and methodical business owners behind Victoria’s latest spin on java. Here’s how their quest to ‘take coffee down a few degrees’ took off:
Hidden Vic (HV): So what’s this Nitro Brew all about?
Woody’s Nitro Brew (WNB): It’s about the best thing you’ve ever tasted in coffee. It’s a cold-brew coffee infused with nitrogen gas, to create an extra smooth, stout-like effect similar to that of a perfectly poured beer. It’s served straight from the tap!
HV: Give us the rundown on Woody’s!
WNB: Well, first of all, it’s badass coffee! And, Nitro Brew and Cold Brew products are relatively new to the coffee scene and we can’t wait to see how it catches on. We’re the first in Victoria so we get to educate people on the products that we love. One of the most exciting aspects for us is the fact that mobile bike vending laws will change this month in Victoria, which means we can bike around the city and sell our products on the go. Who knows what this new opportunity will present!
HV: How did this all start? What was your break-through moment?
WNB: We both work at Harbour Air Seaplanes, and spending every day together definitely inspired us to think of other opportunities outside of the standard 9-5. The idea was sparked while at work, but the break-through moment happened a month or two afterwards. I received a call from Andrew one night, and all he said was “let’s do it!” We had bounced a lot of different ideas off one another since starting work together, but the concept of Woody’s really stuck with us.
HV: Were you guys friends before being business partners?
WNB: We were! For about 2 years, which gives us a great base for our biz relationship.
HV: What is the most challenging part of getting out into the community?
WNB: The restrictions the city of Victoria imposes on food vendors. Of course, this is changing this coming month for bike vendors, but starting out wasn’t easy. Finding a spot to vend from was a big challenge but we believe we’ve found a good home base in Bastion Square.
HV: If you could park your bike and serve coffee anywhere in the world where would it be?
WNB: That’s a tough one. I have a feeling our answers would conflict a bit, but I’m sure we could both agree that it would have to be somewhere warm, since we’re selling cold coffee! At the end of the day, Victoria is definitely up there at the top of list. This city has so much potential for growth, and is becoming more and more bike-friendly which is exciting. If I’m being honest though, I wouldn’t say no to somewhere like Hawaii!
HV: Why Coffee?
WNB: Andrew and I both love coffee, and that was one of the most exciting things for us when we finally decided to dive in and give Woody’s a shot. Having an appreciation and passion for it certainly makes it easier, and we could both agree that it would be a stretch to call what we do “work.” There were a lot of factors that pushed us towards starting a business in the coffee industry, but we both liked the idea of venturing down a path that would be considered unique. Specializing in Nitro Cold Brew and Cold Brew coffee provided us with this opportunity, and it allowed us to be hands-on from start to finish, trying to create the perfect cup. We found that cold coffee wasn’t as accessible as it could be in Victoria, so we took our passion for coffee and tried to make something of it. Ultimately, we wanted to provide locals and tourists with a refreshing coffee alternative to enjoy on a hot summer day.
HV: What are your dreams within this venture?
WNB: For now, we just want to be the best we can be. We are a small business, but one thing Andrew and I can both agree on is that we have much bigger dreams for Woody’s. Depending on how this summer goes, we would like to add a couple more bikes to the fleet by next season. We don’t think this is an unreasonable vision, especially since the mobile vending laws will allow bikes to peddle around the city to vend. By adding more bikes to the fleet, it would also provide the opportunity for self-motivated entrepreneurs to lease from us and sell under their own initiative. However, we are very proud to have started this business and are just excited to see what happens this summer.
HV: What will need to happen for you to look back and say “we did it”?
WNB: At the end of the day, we could both hold our heads high knowing that we gave it a shot. The hardest part about this whole venture was building up the confidence to do it. It’s one thing to have an idea, but it takes a lot of courage to actually go out there and make it happen. No matter what happens in this particular venture, Andrew and I will be proud to have given it a shot. Who knows where Woody’s will take us, but I can guarantee that it will teach us an insurmountable amount with regards to owning and operating a business, and that sort of experience is invaluable in this day and age.
HV: What would your advice be to young entrepreneurs with big ideas?
WNB: In all honesty, we would say if you believe in the idea, go for it. Out of everyone we talked to in the developmental stages of Woody’s, very few of them actually believed we would pursue this venture. That, to us, says it all. Nobody seems to have the confidence to give anything a shot these days, and it is sad to see. Opening any business is a risk, but as we mentioned before, the experience you get out of it is so beneficial. We know this advice is echoed time and time again, but we truly believe in it. At the end of the day, you don’t need money to make money, as the common saying goes. We found that putting a lot of time in the planning stages went a long way for us, and helped us avoid the high startup cost usually associated with these sorts of things. There are ways to make things happen, but you just need to be sure that you are willing to put all your energy into your ideas. If you are able to do that, you can hold your head high. You’ll never know otherwise.
HV: What makes you guys stand out in Victoria’s coffee scene?
WNB: Other than the fact that we are Victoria’s first Nitro brew coffee bike, I’d say we are trying to promote the Nitro Brew product in general. Not many places do it in town, but everyone who tries it seems to love it! We are big fans of the products that places like Hey Happy and Cafe Fantastico provide, but we like to think that the whole concept of not having to go inside on a hot summer day sets us apart from the rest. We try to provide convenient customer experiences, as well as efficient ones.