Prior to opening and operating Durham’s Beyu Caffe, Duke Alumnus Dorian Bolden was a successful financial advisor in New York; however, 2004 proved to be a rough year for Dorian when he experienced the loss of his father as well as a merger at his company. Though he survived the merger, he realized that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and made the life-changing decision to walk away from Corporate America and follow his own entrepreneurial dream.
Combining his love for coffee, food, live music and entertainment, the vision for Beyu Caffe (pronounced “be you”) was born. Prior to opening up shop, Dorian returned to North Carolina, performed extensive research, and worked hands-on in the industry to learn the ins and outs of operating such a business. Taking the time to work for other food-industry businesses allowed him to see how they handled various situations, which made the process easier.
Internet searches eventually brought Dorian to the SBTDC’s website where he found information on a pre-venture orientation seminar in 2006. The seminar was conducted by the SBTDC’s Mary Speight, who became Dorian’s business counselor. Mary assisted Dorian with the development of his business plan and a loan package to ensure additional funding for the opening of the business. “It’s a huge step to take your business plan to something that’s reality,” he says. “That’s something Mary and the SBTDC really helped me with.”
After raising $500,000, Beyu Caffe opened its doors in December 2009 during the economic downtown. The business blew past its first year projection by 70%, and at the end of 2011, Beyu Caffe was just shy of becoming a million dollar business.
Dorian currently employs a staff of 28, and Beyu Caffe is also the official coffee of the Carolina Theater. Other achievements include 2010 Retail Business of the Year for Downtown Durham and 2011 Triangle Space Award by the Triangle Business Journal.
“I’d give other entrepreneurs the same advice Bill Cosby gave me: ‘Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it.’ That was the first quote I read that got me through in the beginning,” says Dorian. In September 2011, Dorian was a speaker on the panel of the “Brave New World of Marketing” session at the NC Entrepreneurship Summit.
Most recently, through his connection with the SBTDC, Beyu Caffe began working with NCCU graduate students on a Google Practicum project. Utilizing Google Ads, students write a pre-campaign strategy to increase the business’s customers and a post-campaign summary for each of the ads used. Beyu Caffe may continue to use the ads with the most success.
Dorian continues to streamline and perfect the Beyu Caffe business model, with plans for expansion in other locations within the next two years.
As featured in the 2011-12 SBTDC Annual Report