Last month, we made the difficult decision to establish the headquarters of Bean Voyage in San José, Costa Rica. The decision was difficult: as a young startup, we understand the importance of being close to the target market. In the food and beverage industry, it is important to attend events, organize tasting parties, and sponsor social gatherings. Even established brands continue to engage with consumer communities on a daily basis. Why would a small early stage startup make the big (and unreasonable) decision of setting up its headquarters in the producing community?
The answer: two big reasons; one of financial preservation and another (most important) emotional engagement. The first one is quite simple: Costa Rica (although fairly expensive) provides affordable services similar to that of the United States, for a slightly affordable price. In addition, it just makes it a lot easier to work while providing the team with opportunities to have a true ‘work-life-balance’. The fact that many people dream of working in a country like Costa Rica for its proximity to nature, humble and amicable people, and, of course, amazing coffee - all for affordable prices only makes it a better option to set up in San José. It still makes it a lot easier for us to travel to the U.S on a regular basis as flights can be as cheap as $500. In addition, both of our Co-founders are non-US citizens which will eventually pose greater legal challenges as we continue to grow. Instead, being registered in Costa Rica, which provides more flexibility with residency and work permits, means that we can now hire almost everyone around the world. That is another challenge that has come with being based in the U.S.
However, the most important reason is emotional engagement. This was made clear during one of our recent trips to Tarrazu, which is the first region where we started working last year. We met with Ericka Mora and her family after almost one year since our first interaction. Seeing how our project has transformed their life just over one year took our motivation levels to a whole new level. That day, we spent five hours with Ericka’s family. It is one thing to look at images, videos of the farmers that we are impacting, and is a whole another thing to be able to regularly visit the farmers, have conversations, and create relationships of trust with them. We believe that such a connection is extremely important between founders and the key stakeholders. Being in Costa Rica constantly reminds us of what and why we do what we do as it allows us to have the opportunity to observe the impact of our work and create a more efficient feedback loop. It is a lot easier to gain feedback from customers in today’s day and age, but it is still challenging to hop on a call with the women coffee producers who are the key stakeholders of this venture. The emotional engagement will not only continue to motivate us, but also keep us aligned with our social mission of putting farmers first.
As a result of our move here, we are now more capable of receiving supporters like you to our farms! If you’re interested, come visit us in Costa Rica through the Voyage program! We’re still accepting applicants for this year’s voyages!