Graduate entrepreneur shares business know-how

  • Date

    Thu 3 Dec 20

James Hagerty

Business Management graduate James Hagerty founded Presto Coffee to spread a bit of happiness by supplying delicious, sustainable and ethically sourced coffee.

James has reconnected with the University of Essex to provide advice and support to our student entrepreneurs so  Multimedia Journalism student Aleksandra Cupriak caught up with him to find out more about his business and his tips for launching a new company.

The Presto Coffee Roasters is a direct-to-consumer coffee brand which has grown over two years, with James bringing in fellow Essex graduate Joanna Thomas to cover Presto’s marketing as the company builds its profile.

The company recently launched a new product Carbon, as James explained: ‘’It is a carbon-neutral product. We purchase our coffee from a partner in Nicaragua. After every bag we sell, he will be able to plant a tree on the customer’s behalf. We have got a webcam set up in the field and if you buy a bag, you will actually have a visual sense that you have ownership over that tree. In over a 10-year life-cycle that tree will offset the carbon.’’ 

Whilst still a student, James started thinking of ideas for his business. ‘’I always wanted to start an online business. The Business Management course kind of gave me that initial foundation to then go forward and go into business,’’ he said.

Now James can share his experiences and give advice to students, who, like him a few years ago, dream about being entrepreneurs. ‘’My biggest recommendation would be that if you are passionate about something, try and funnel your skillset towards being an absolute pro at that area.  There are many useful teams, like Essex Start-ups which can be very helpful at the beginning of your career.’’

As Presto Coffee’s founder, James has set new goals for his company which will ideally be 100% carbon neutral across the brand in terms of packing, use of electricity and staffing. He also wants to introduce Presto to high street retailers.

James’ last piece of advice is to get ready for some tough times as you follow your business dream: ‘’You have to know that business is really hard. Once you have started, you think that you are going to be the next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg and unfortunately it is not like that. The biggest lesson I have learnt is to be patient and always try your best. Do not let yourself burn out by wanting to get something really quickly, as ultimately, it takes a lot of time to even get started.’’