Our guest today is Justin Watson, a retired NFL Rams player and a Super Bowl winner. He’s also the founder of BLQK coffee, his third business venture.
Justin actually only played football for one year in high school, and it took a lot of hard work and perseverance for him to get a full ride scholarship to San Diego State. In his senior year there his coach tried to get him on the San Diego Chargers, but it didn’t work out. But Justin didn’t let that get him down, he kept working hard and he ended up with the Rams and Super Bowl championship.
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How Justin went from Super Bowl Champion to Entrepreneur
Justin’s first introduction to coffee happened while he was playing for the Rams. One of his teammates would bring Justin coffee because he kept falling asleep during the team meetings. And the caffeine definitely helped him stay awake and alert, but the kind of coffee he was drinking was gross--it was overroasted and bitter.
Then in 2020 Justin was at a cookout with some friends and because of what happened to George Floyd they were discussing social impact and how they could move the needle forward in marginalized communities. And while they were trying to figure out what they could do, coffee was at the forefront of their minds. Even though the coffee he was drinking at the time wasn’t the best, it was something he was drinking every day and something that he was passionate about.
And that’s how the idea of BLQK coffee came about. At this point Justin had some experience with entrepreneurship in other businesses he had started, and in the other things he had done it was always around something he enjoyed and something that he could get passionate about.
Making a difference with coffee
The morning after that cookout Justin woke up and assembled a team of people with all different roles and backgrounds--some who could back the business financially, some that could help figure out the coffee roasting element, some that could help them legally start the business, etc...And within 24 hours they all met together. They never really had a formal business plan, it all just came together during this meeting and everyone had their role to play.
One of the main goals with BLQK coffee is to help kids get the education they deserve in areas where they may not get that opportunity otherwise.
Justin shares, “For me, that's really my number one goal is how can I help? How can I help kids in the community? How can I move the needle? And there are a lot of highly intelligent, you know, black and brown kids out there that can really make a difference in the world. And if I can do that one cup at a time, and allow them to go to a school they wouldn't be able to afford or have the tools like to be able to get the computers and the tools they need in order to succeed. I think we can do it through pouring our profits back into these communities.”
Key lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Justin
There are some great lessons that any entrepreneur can learn from Justin’s journey, even if you aren’t a Super Bowl Champion or in the business of coffee.
Justin’s advice for young entrepreneurs
For anyone out there who is just starting out or who is early in their entrepreneurship journey Justin points to a poem he grew up looking at in his mother’s house. It’s called Desiderata and you can see the full text here. But the first few lines say, “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”
He says if you have integrity, honesty, and diligence you can’t lose. If you are doing something that you enjoy and something that you are passionate about and if you are going about it honestly, you will find success.
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