Zev Siegl, Co-Founder of Starbucks shared life experiences and learnings to motivate Unacademy learners

Online learning platform, Unacademy, today hosted a Live Class for its learners by Zev Siegl, internationally recognized speaker & presenter and co-founder of one of the world’s most famous coffee chains, Starbucks. The Live Class was a phenomenal success with around 20,000 learners attending the session.

Earlier in March, Unacademy announced the commencement of the ‘Legends on Unacademy’ program with the idea of bringing legends from different walks of life to teach life lessons through Live Classes.

During the Live session, Zev shared various real-life instances and experiences with the learners, highlighting his struggle during the initial days of his professional journey, to co-founding the globally loved coffee brand. He also spoke about the challenges faced and lessons learnt both personally & professionally throughout his journey and how he owes his willingness to teach to his mother, who was an educator and founder of a school. While sharing his life experiences and knowledge, he also highlighted how the idea of Starbucks came into origin, the reason why entrepreneurs establish new companies, and the 8 major reasons that made Starbucks a successful company. Zev also shared personal stories while highlighting the pictures from childhood, the first logo of Starbucks and the first Starbucks store which is now a tourist destination in the central market of Seattle.

During the 50 minute session, Zev addressed multiple questions asked by Unacademy learners such as the eureka moment when he realised that this is what he wanted to do, the barriers he faced and career highlights in the process of making Starbucks a globally known brand, his core vision, the uncertainties he faced initially and the best coffee he has ever had. 

Key learnings shared by Zev during the session were:

1.  Three bad cups of espresso that the founders had at a coffee bar, sparked the idea behind Starbucks

2.   The factors that motivate entrepreneurs to establish new companies – a) To explore a way of making money

 b) To be the person in charge to help improve communities

 c) Explore a life changing adventure in business

3.       Zev has been a mentor to hundreds of entrepreneurs and has learnt a great deal from them 

4.       The 8 primary reasons that Starbucks succeeded when it started out were: 

  • The founders picked the right business – Coffee is a profitable business for roasters, retailers and coffee bar operators. It also has caffeine – the core element in coffee that lifts people’s mood and creates a repeat customer out of them. Much like how social media has turned out to be for people today
  • Good Timing – Starbucks started out a time when the gourmet revolution had started  in the U.S. Starbucks became a beneficiary of this revolution where people had started taking keen interest in their food and beverages.
  • A good team – The founders at Starbucks complemented each other’s strengths. There was a core team of 5 people – 3 founders and 2 senior managers who were good listeners and had a passion for coffee.
  • Sweat Equity – Personal funding of 9,000 USD by the founders and building the first store from scratch including the flooring, painting and every possible labour.
  • Excellent financial management from the Co-founder Jerry Baldwin
  • An outstanding mentor in the form of Alfred Peet. He was the one who taught Zev all about the coffee business. Without Alfred, Zev said, there would be no Starbucks.
  • A good marketer in the form of Gordon Bowker who helped position Starbucks as a reliable, timeless company with excellent standards.
  • Continuous Customer Education – We wanted long term relationships with educated customers who would buy coffee from Starbucks forever.

5.    It’s always important to seek expert advice when starting a business

6. Technology has changed the coffee bar industry to a great extent. Coffee bars are the new offices for the Gig Economy