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I spoke to Jim DeCicco, the CEO at Kitu Life Inc., makers of Super Coffee and Super Creamer. Jim served as captain of the football team at Colgate University. And upon graduating in 2015, he joined his two younger brothers to create the world’s first Super Coffee. Since then, Jim and his brothers have raised $18 million in venture capital. They’ve pitched on ABC’s Shark Tank, and were featured in the 2019 Class of Forbes’ 30 Under 30.
In this interview, we chat about life as a young entrepreneur, his experience pitching on Shark Tank, and business advice for other recent college grads. This interview is adapted from our From the Dorm Room to the Board Room podcast, which you can listen to here.
Andy Molinsky: So, I have to start with the question on everyone’s minds: What was it like to pitch your business on Shark Tank?
Jim DeCicco: We pitched the Sharks in June of 2017 – 18 months after we had launched the company. It was a really cool experience. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was actually a very real business meeting. Just like you see on TV, the doors opened and we walked down the runway. There was a cameraman in front of us, backing up as we’re walking on stage. What a lot of people don’t know is that you can’t say anything for the first 45 seconds because you need to wait for the main camera to come in and get a swooping shot. So, we’re there for what feels like an eternity. Finally, the producer yells from the back: “Begin!” And we do our pitch.
Andy Molinsky: Was the pitch scripted?
Jim DeCicco: The first 90 seconds were scripted. We actually had to memorize it. My brother Jordan did 30 seconds; my other brother Jake did 30 seconds; and I did 30 seconds. Next, we poured samples of our product. And then it just became a very real business meeting. It feels intimidating on TV, but they’re humans. It was a very human conversation.
Andy Molinsky: What misconceptions do you think college students have about entering the workplace, taking that leap from the dorm room to the professional world?
Jim DeCicco: Whether you want to work on Wall Street, or in real estate, or in science, you have this idea of what it’s going to be like. But as soon as you start, it’s totally different and everything changes. It’s like that a Mike Tyson quote: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” So I tell college students all the time: Don’t wait. Jump right in. Don’t wait until you’re qualified. Don’t wait until you’re ready. Just get going because the real world is going to validate your idea. Andy Molinsky: What did that mean for your business? How did you jump in?
Jim DeCicco: We didn’t wait and test our product only among friends or at farmers markets. We went right to Whole Foods — one of the most prestigious grocery stores in the country. And that was our first account. So, we jumped right in. And as soon as we started pouring samples to customers, making deliveries, and sending invoices, we got a lot smarter about our business.
Andy Molinsky: One final question: Can you share any tips you have for being more productive at work? You seem like a pretty productive guy.
Jim DeCicco: I wake up early. I’m a 4:30 AM – 5:00 AM. kind of guy. And that’s not for everybody, but it allows me to be super-productive, really get to clear out my inbox, set up my day. And by 9:00 AM, I have a four-hour jumpstart on the rest of the world.
Also: The first thing I do in the morning is to make my bed. That’s a quick way to get a win or an achievement under your belt and set your day up for success. Finally, I’m not a religious person, but I do hit the floor. I get on my knees. And for two minutes, I just express gratitude. Whether I’m talking to God or to some spirit in the sky, I say what I’m thankful for, and I set an intention for the day.
Andy Molinsky: Wow, great tips. But I thought you might mention drinking coffee?
Jim DeCicco: Oh yeah, Kitu Super Coffee; drink that stuff!
January 24, 2019 at 09:46AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs