Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jim Walker, CEO of Black Insomnia Coffee Company, located in Winchester, Hampshire, UK.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We make COFFEE BASED ENERGY DRINKS that power our customers through their day. We help people achieve their full potential by providing a source of healthy, natural energy.

Our customers are anyone who likes to work hard and play hard. This includes Specialty Coffee Drinkers, Fitness Fanatics, Gamers, Extreme Sports People, Coders, Front-line Workers (heroes, police, ambulance, paramedics, firefighters, military, etc.), Musicians, Music Lovers, and Festival Goers.

Tell us about yourself

After 12 years in the army, I concluded I was unemployable, so I started an explosive ordnance disposal company, successfully winning contracts with the UK Ministry of Defence and the United Nations. Effectively I went from making things go BANG to stopping them!

Having acquired a taste for entrepreneurship, I established a business providing risk management services to the upstream oil and gas industry. This was effectively preventing things from going BANG again, but for oil rigs and installations.

Having sold this business and whilst living in South Africa in 2016, I co-founded Black Insomnia Coffee Company. So instead of preventing things from going BANG, I moved back into the world of putting a BANG into people's days by powering them up with caffeine.

I'm motivated by our vision: We aim to be the new preferred source of energy. NATURAL, HEALTHY ENERGY. And be the product of choice for those who want to get on, do their best & make the most of their day with 100% ethically sourced raw ingredients and leading-edge eco-friendly packaging.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I've had some great success through a combination of hard work and through luck. But often, it's the less tangible things that are the biggest accomplishments, like creating and working within a great team, and learning from awesome people, whether they're colleagues, suppliers, or customers.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

When you build a team by engaging great people whilst at the same time taking a risk by backing your business (your "baby"), whatever it takes, those people who join you are putting their trust in you. That's a BIG responsibility and, for me, is the hardest thing about business.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Believe in what you are doing. Not in the fact it'll make money but in the value of what you offer. Financial success is a consequence, not a reason.
  2. Keep healthy and fit. Starting a business requires massive energy, and you need to be able to cope with the stresses and strains and be able to think clearly. Fitness really helps.
  3. Be confident. Not overly so, and not blindly confident, you need to have humility and learn. But have confidence that you can do what you believe in, even if you get things wrong occasionally - everyone does!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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