Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Paul Chen, Owner of Botrista Technology, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

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

Barista Technology is a robotics company that provides end-to-end automated craft beverage solutions to restaurant chains. The flagship product, DrinkBot, is designed to enhance beverage programs, automate drink menus, and prepare a variety of non-alcoholic mixed drinks and premium cocktails within 20 seconds and with just one touch. We help food service locations generate profit by serving freshly-made, complex drinks fast, without additional labor. Botrista's mission is to make specialty drinks more accessible.

Tell us about yourself

I've always wanted to apply hardware and software technologies, in the form of robotics, to industries where I can make an impact today. Having previously worked in the drone industry, we ran into many regulatory hurdles in achieving massive scale and invested many resources into building a product for a one-time sale.

At Barista, we adopted a drink-as-a-service (DaaS) business model by essentially renting the machine and selling ingredient refills. This allows restaurant owners to pay minimal upfront costs and achieve profitability quickly while upgrading their menu selection and providing a better customer experience. It is very fulfilling to see our solution being deployed by restaurant chains, and it motivates me to continue to deliver the best possible user experience.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The biggest accomplishment is signing our first customer, The Halal Guys. We now live in over 60 locations across the US which validates our ability to not only win large accounts but also deploy and service them nationally.

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

The hardest thing as we scale is time management. As we grow, we get more inbound opportunities and requests. Knowing where to focus our efforts and resources is the key to success.

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

  1. Don't go looking for a problem to solve. Investors will ask why you are the right person team to solve the problem, and unless it's something you experience every day, you will not have an unfair advantage.
  2. Know your strengths. A jack of all trades is a master of none. Know what you're good at, and be ok to ask for help. Scale your time wisely by convincing others to help you achieve your vision.
  3. Live to win another day. Success is all about timing which you have no control over. Startups often fail since they were too early and ran out of cash. Manage your resource carefully and survive until the time is right.

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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