A first-of-its-kind, the Caffeine Corps offers all things caffeine to clientele in the Mobile, Alabama area. Owner Mandy Clark-Green, a veteran, took home $2,000 as a runner-up in Nav’s latest Business Grant round, and is looking to franchise her business. She is also preparing to deploy again, and discussed the challenges of running a business in between tours of duty with Nav.
When did you start the company?
Veterans Day, November 11th 2017
Where is your company based?
How many employees do you have?
Currently 2 and myself
What makes your business unique/different?
I started Caffeine Corps to give everyone a place to go to find quality caffeine products that are hard to find. We are the first ever retailer for all things caffeinated. That in itself makes us unique! Some of the product we carry is exclusive to just us. People come from all over the Gulf Coast to see what we have in store.
How did you get the money to start the company?
I had to take out a small personal loan for the startup costs. Business loans are extremely difficult to come by when building a startup. I decided to go through Navy Federal for my loan because they offered great benefits to veterans like myself. I have used a credit card and a line of credit to build my business credit.
Running the Business
How will you be using the prize money from Nav?
We plan to use half of the $2,000 award money to trademark our brand and the other half to bring in new inventory we couldn’t afford before.
What do you love most about your business/having your own business?
I’ve loved meeting new people and having returning customers! I’m so proud to say our return customer rate is over 85%. I always say, we have amazing caffeinated products, but even better conversation.
How do you manage cash flow in the company?
We use Square integrated with QuickBooks
What’s the most challenging thing about running the company?
Taxes, fees, and keeping up with local and federal requirements
What’s the biggest challenge your business is currently facing?
Working capital. We are experiencing more cash flow, but we are also bringing in more inventory. There needs to be a better balance.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the company?
Meeting so many wonderful people! Several of my regular customers have become my closest friends because of this business. I love what I do and do what I love.
What I’ve Learned
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting the company?
Not managing the spending well enough.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were first starting out?
Location. We opened up within walking distance from the local university and military base.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Get a solid plan. Have people in your corner who can help, like a mentor. And understand that this isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of thing. The hardest worker you will have is you.
What’s next for your business?
Trademarking, gathering new innovative inventory, and expansion!
What could your business do with $10,000? Check out Nav's Small Business Grant now to find out how your business could win interest-free financing.