Meet the former oncology nurse who built one of the most successful coffee roasters in the UAE, RAW

“To be a market leader, you have to be prepared to try to deal with disappointment when you fail, think outside the box and be brave,” Kim Thompson, a 59-year-old UAE-New Zealand expat, recalls these values ​​and what she formed after working hard on her father’s advice. belief.

“My dad doesn’t approve of my mom working because he thinks her main job is home and family. He also doesn’t believe in credit cards or loans, he works hard and manages his financial responsibilities, stress and disappointments privately, but he’s very cautious and safe .”

Thompson is not risk averse, but loves a challenge.

She was not raised in a privileged or wealthy family or an entrepreneurial family. “I was fortunate to have grown up where my parents took care of basic needs. We live in the small town of Nelson, South Island, New Zealand, with 30,000 (population), on the coast, with beautiful beaches, mountains and national parks.”

“We have a lot of freedom, a lot of fresh food, clean air and water – a great place to raise a family. We don’t have international holidays, but I ride horses, do a lot of other sports and have a good time – class education.”

She loves horses and her family bought her a horse. “We leased the land and I ran the 3-day event. It’s not a cheap sport and I’m grateful to be able to pursue this passion knowing that it cost my parents money and time.”

She received no pocket money, but occasionally worked as a nanny to earn pocket money.

I would live my daily life and spend all my salary in the first half of the month. I don’t know anything about budgets, interest rates or savings.

– Jim Thompson

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Thompson was an oncology nurse, a professional nurse caring for cancer patients.

She left home at 15, desperate to escape and explore, and spent nearly four years in the old system, starting her hands-on training in the lock room to become a registered nurse. “I was totally unprepared for the adult world.

“I would go about my daily life and spend all my salary in the first half of my salary. I didn’t know anything about budgets, interest rates or savings. For example, I cringe when I look back at how cheap I bought a house, but Happy to pay the rent,” Thompson shared.

“I had a hard time learning from paycheck to paycheck, but even at an early age I realized I wanted a different life to explore and travel.”

Thompson’s foundation in her youth gave her hints about how she shouldn’t live.

“It wasn’t until after my nursing and backpacking trips in Southeast Asia, through India, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and Indonesia, that I woke up and realized I had a lot of opportunities that other women didn’t have. It would be a crime to waste those opportunities. “

Thompson moved to Dubai with her husband in 1997, when she was a stay-at-home mother of three young girls and had been out of work for several years.

Her first experience was running a cafe in the old Jebel Ali Sailing Club in 2005.

“It’s a bustling cafe and I have no previous experience in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, so I’m learning on the job, navigating suppliers, finding the right team, retaining them, managing the customer experience, managing cash flow all the time. Coffee The pavilion is financially viable, but it’s the most challenging job I’ve ever done.”

With the development of Dubai Marina and JBR and the closure of the Sailing Club, I suddenly had time to reflect and decide what I wanted to do. During the sailing club operation, I was not able to source locally roasted quality coffee, nor could I find any support for our baristas or equipment. So I found a gap in the market and had the confidence to start my own business, RAW Coffee Company, in June 2007.

Jim Thompson

Thompson was an oncology nurse, a specialist nurse caring for cancer patients, before becoming the owner of a specialty coffee roaster.

What are the different costs to start this business?

To start a limited liability company and obtain a trading license in 2007, she said she needed Dh300,000 and a lease agreement. She is self-financing with her own savings.

What is an LLC in the UAE?

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most common form of business in the UAE. A limited liability company can consist of a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 50 shareholders whose liability is limited to their shares in the business capital.

“I registered the name, found a company to design a logo, developed a business plan, and outfitted the warehouse with offices, green bean storage, roasting and packaging facilities, and meeting space. I purchased manufacturing equipment, espresso equipment and Small inventory, hired the first team to join me, and hired a consultant.

“The initial AED 300,000 needed to start a business became our working capital to start our business. I got an additional AED 300,000 through a bank loan, didn’t receive a salary for the first five years, and put the money we earned reinvest in the company.”

Matt Toogood joined Thompson early in his third year as a partner in the practice and is now a 50% partner in the practice.

He also worked unpaid for three years, and they focused on knowledge, organic growth, and building a strong ethical supply chain and foundation for the company.

Thompson’s business has been plagued by mistakes and omissions from the start.

“We made multiple mistakes, such as choosing the wrong location for the first manufacturing plant (DIP or Dubai Investment Park), hiring the wrong consultants who duplicated the previous employer’s operating procedures, recipes and processes, and knowledge or in-depth knowledge of roasting or coffee,” Thompson said.

They faced multiple delays, which meant the first staff had nothing to do. “We don’t have a way to roast our green beans, so we’ll buy cheap coffee from the supermarket and install a commercial espresso machine in our kitchen so we can at least do barista training.

“Then another new, better-funded coffee business disrupted our early operations, discrediting us in the market early on while we were trying to build our reputation,” she added.

“It had a lot of investment and no basics; I was actually ahead of them because I had the warehouse, baking equipment and consultants. However, they counter-offered the consultants more money, which meant I had to teach myself how to do it all matter.

We made multiple mistakes, such as choosing the wrong location for our first manufacturing facility, hiring the wrong consultants, etc.

– Jim Thompson

“I would never choose to repeat the mistakes of our earlier years of trying to run a business without enough cash and constantly eating by mouth. But it allows us to get into the details of each industry because we have to do it ourselves work. This gives us a solid foundation to build our company on because we have a deep understanding of every aspect of the professional industry.”

Lessons Thompson learned in her career and entrepreneurial journey

Lesson: Love what you do, but budget and be prepared to cost more than initially anticipated.

Thompson started her career in her 40s. Once, her three daughters all grew up. Before that, she worked part-time and then in a cafe, but never in business.

Her friends, who own their own businesses, often tell her that things are expected to take longer than expected and cost more.

She admitted that she spent the first 18 months fighting fires. “The installation cost was three times my budget and there was no money coming in.”

It was a very difficult start for her, but she said some things she did right. “I chose to enter the right place in the market with a premium professional grade Arabica and my timing was perfect.

“I like to ignore things that have happened to me in the past. Every time something bad happens, I learn from it and don’t repeat those mistakes or bad judgments. As an entrepreneur, I wouldn’t advise anyone without three times the initial investment in the business plan,” Thompson added.

Stock Entrepreneur Business

Once Thompson’s business started selling and making a profit, she and her business partners reinvested in hiring key people with better skills in certain senior roles.

Lessons Learned: Reinvest profits in your business for organic expansion.

Once Thompson’s business started selling and making a profit, she and her business partners reinvested in buying better, more mung bean stocks, while also hiring better-skilled key people in certain senior positions.

“Early on we didn’t invest because we were risky and nobody wanted to lend us money. It was impossible to get trade finance at a reasonable rate — so we grew organically and had complete control over our destiny,” Thompson explained.

“I don’t believe, especially with the challenges brought on by COVID-19 over the past two years, that many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have had the luxury of worrying about investing. It’s more fundamental than that and it’s a concern about the financial viability of our team, Obligations and Responsibilities and Business Continuity.

We didn’t invest in the early days because we were risky and no one was willing to lend us money.

– Jim Thompson

“We were expecting to be hit by the health crisis, now we’re starting to see cost increases and having shifted to another gear, we know we have to be very dynamic and resourceful next year. We’ve also started two new ones during COVID-19. Self-financing businesses through other support products in the food and beverage coffee space.”

She follows old-fashioned strategies for real estate investing. “I built a beautiful house in Bali as an investment property, but didn’t have a proper understanding of cryptocurrencies, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) or metaverse.”

“I am planning to buy a house in a new development here next year, but honestly we are still reinvesting to grow our company and have ambitious plans for its future,” she further revealed.