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12 – Interview with Imelda Dagus, Founder of Dennis Coffee Garden

Interview with Imelda Dagus

Episode #12 | Interview with Imelda Dagus, Founder of Dennis Coffee Garden

As promised in our previous episode, we will be introducing many amazing men and women on our podcast who can teach us a thing or two about being excellent founders, entrepreneurs, or business owners. In today’s episode, we feature our very first special guest of the year, Imelda Dagus.
Imelda Dagus is the founder and owner of Dennis Coffee Garden based in Zamboanga, Philippines. Dennis Coffee Garden is famous for its value of legacy and culture and for reviving dying traditions and preserving heirloom delicacies. Imelda’s entrepreneurial journey from working overseas for more than 20 years to building her business from scratch and becoming the businesswoman that she is today will inspire any entrepreneur out there.

Episode Highlights:


  1.  Use the Important v/s Urgent Matrix to determine which goals are important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and both not urgent and not important.
  2. Do the goals that are important and urgent, plan for the not urgent but important goals, delegate the urgent but not important tasks, and dump those which are both not urgent and not important.
  3.  Use the force ranking method to determine which needs to be prioritized first and work your way through the list.
  4. Break your list down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals.


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Warsha 00:01
Welcome to the Dare to Scale Show with me Warsha.


Evan 00:04

And me Evan.

Warsha 00:05

So, what is Dare to Scale, over the years that we’ve been coaching founders and business owners, much like yourselves. We’ve worked through a framework called Dare to Scale.

Evan 00:18
Dare to Scale indeed. That framework has helped loads of business owners. That is what this show is all about. So, put on your big picture thinking hat. 

Warsha 00:28
Oh and your headphones, and come join us and enjoy the ride.

Evan 00:37
Hi and we’ve got a wonderful guest for you today.

Warsha 00:40
Yes, indeed, we have Imelda Dagus who set up Dennis Coffee Garden in the Philippines in 2015. Evan and I have been following the story for quite a few years now. And we thought the world needs to hear this inspirational woman’s story. So, Imelda, thank you very much for joining us today. We are so honored to have you as our guest, first guest of 2021. Welcome to the show.

Imelda 1:10
Thank you. Hi, Warsha. Hi, Evan.

Evan 1:13

Imelda 1:14
Happy New Year.

Warsha 1:15
Happy New Year to you, too. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for agreeing to be our guest and sharing your story with our listeners.

Imelda 1:24
Thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be in your program.

Warsha 1:27
How wonderful it is to have you. So, Imelda, as you know, we run this podcast is run mainly for entrepreneurs, for business owners, for new entrepreneurs, for founders who run small to midsize businesses out there. And I want to start this first of all by saying great job on doing what you do. We are so inspired every time we see your stages of growth and how you have shaped and molded your business. So, to begin with Imelda tell us a little bit please about your journey. How did you move from your previous expat life to what you do today?

Imelda 2:12
Thank you, Warsha. I was an O F W working overseas for more than 20 years.

Warsha 2:19

Imelda 2:20
Started working in Yemen after my graduation and stayed there for about three years moved to Oman in 1997. And until 2015 I was living there in Oman with my family.

Evan 2:38

Imelda 2:39
But yeah, I overstayed. It was a happy life. Until one day I realized that I cannot live in Oman forever. I mean, being a Filipino, I will not be able to apply for a citizenship and live in Oman permanently. So, I realized that whether I like it or not, I have to prepare myself to returning home. So, there were triggers that made me realize I have to start preparation. One trigger was the fact that my son, who stayed and studied in Oman, until high school, had to return to the Philippines in 2011, to continue his college education. And because of that, I realized I wanted to you know be with him. But I was torn between being with my son to assist him and the fact that my job is in Oman, where my source of income is, I was stuck. So, I said, because I’ve got two boys. I said for my second son, it should not be the same story. So, I started looking at the possibility of returning home and becoming an entrepreneur.

Warsha 4:05

Imelda 4:06

And becoming an entrepreneur because there was also a trigger. A book which I have read, which made me realize that if I continue to be an employee, then there is no way that I will be free financially.

Evan 4:27

Imelda 4:28
So, both triggers made me realize that whatever it takes, I have to be an entrepreneur and I made a decision. One fine day, that I will move from this point being an employee to another point of becoming an entrepreneur. I knew then that it was not going to be an easy task or easy road. But I was willing to do all the preparations. And I did. You know, I went to seminars, entrepreneurship, any books that I could get hold of.

Warsha 5:06

Imelda 5:07
So that’s my preparation. I mean, it wasn’t like it happened, just like that.

Warsha 5:13
Oh! Of course. And that is absolutely true. It’s a journey. And while it may look fairly easy to the onlooker, it’s actually quite a challenge we take on so thank you for sharing your story. Imelda, you mentioned a book earlier that you read, which book is that?

Imelda 5:32
This book written by Robert Kiyosaki Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

Evan 5:37
Oh it’s a good book.

Imelda 5:38
I started with that book and then I continued with all the books that he would mention and other business books, management books, anything that could lead me to the path where I head and I would like to include Warsha, that as an expat, I know that it’s not going to be forever, you know, being an OFW being an overseas worker, working abroad is temporary, going into that country to find that elixir or the stone, but you really must come back home, you will not be able to complete the journey if you don’t come back home.

Evan 6:19
Love it!

Warsha 6:20

Very nice. I love that. Absolutely love it. Thank you.

Evan 6:23
I mean, what I love is you’ve taken responsibility for your own future. And that is so powerful.

Warsha 6:28
That is true. So, we have a few questions that we really want to ask you here, Imelda, one of the things is, as a brand-new entrepreneur, what was the biggest thing that you had to unlearn, and relearn.

Imelda 6:44
There were so many things that I had to unlearn, and relearn, of course, first is that being an employee, you are dependent on the paycheck, and you know, for sure that it comes at the end of the month. So, I had to detach myself from that kind of addiction, I would, you know, I jokingly say this but even if you relax in the office, at the end of the month, you receive your paycheck, I had to unlearn that, you know, as an entrepreneur, if I just relax, and don’t look at my business, don’t leave my people then the paycheck won’t come to me. And not only for me, it’s also with a whole bunch of employees and people that are dependent on me. So, the responsibility is enormous. But that is not to say that I regret that because it really gave me a sense of fulfillment. Being in business also allowed me to see myself through discover myself and know myself more.

Warsha 7:54
Very nice.

Imelda 7:55
So, many things to really learn because being an entrepreneur is really sitting on the other side of the table. As an employee, you see one side of the table, as an employer, it’s the other side. So, you need the opposite skill set. So, being a corporate animal for 20 plus years, there was so much of unlearning to do and then you know starting from scratch, and okay, now being on the other side of the table, what do I do this is not something which I have been used to doing. But if you know if you believe in your vision, if you believe, if you love what you’re doing, then you will always find a way, you will always find a way to do the things you want to do.

Warsha 8:48

Evan 8:49
Imelda, can you talk a little bit about the business you ended up going into and how it involves your family?

Imelda 8:54
Sure Evan, when I started thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, I wasn’t very clear of what business to take into or to be in. I was just sure, because of the all the triggers I mentioned, I was very sure that I want to be an entrepreneur. Then the next question is what business do I get into? So, I started attending seminars, that’s why I really value mentors, mentorship, mentoring, mentors are godsent. If not for mentors, I would not have been able to see the things that I have seen.

Evan 9:36

Imelda 9:37
For example, I attended one seminar the franchising seminar. It’s where where I realized that I should be asking what business is right for me, instead of asking what business is profitable, what business is going to, you know, make it big in the market? So, by asking that question, I was able to see that, instead of me creating a new business, I saw the opportunity of going back to my roots, seeing the business of my grandmother, a small cafe that was started in our hometown in 1962.

Evan 10:19

Imelda 10:20
And that made me see the value, the value of legacy. So, I said, why not continue on the legacy of my grandmother, instead of creating something new that I cannot relate to. But this is also because I was guided by a mentor, a mentor, because I started with zero knowledge on business although my parents were business people. We were not told as children. We were not told that one day you will be running our business. We will be continuing on with the coffee shop that we started. We were just told to go to school and you know, find a job work in the office. So, I was in that programming, if you will, it was just because of reaching out to mentors and reading and really seeking. So, now I believe that when you search, you will find, you really have to start searching. So, you will be able to find something, if you don’t start searching, then nothing will show up. So, when I reached out to a mentor, she planted that seed of inspiration that because I must be honest, initially, what I was looking for was a replacement income, I wanted to come back home to the Philippines, to be in business, not to work again. But my main goal was to find replacement income. But because of the mentor that I reached out, I was shown something more meaningful. And that is to continue on the legacy of my grandmother, who built that little cafe in 1962. And if I do it right, I will be able to find that replacement income anyway. So, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone, preserving your legacy, upholding the legacy and finding a replacement income. So, to me, that was a bonus. That’s why I said, I did not regret making that decision to become an entrepreneur, and coming back home to connect with my roots.

Evan 12:37
Oh, That’s amazing.

Warsha 12:38
This is so wonderful to hear how that transition started happening in your life and not so much started happening, how you made the transition happen. And as you already know, Imelda, one of the things that has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and that is the one of the biggest things that I would like to highlight for our listeners, because we want that part of the story to be shared and to be heard by everyone out there. So, Imelda, could you talk to us a little bit about the culture that you have built in, in your company? And how did you go about building that culture because I know that the culture that you very strongly uphold is supporting the community, holding up the traditions and the values that are so close to you, as a family, it’s a very value-based culture that you have built. So, talk to us a little bit about the culture that you have built, please.

Imelda 13:35
As you know, I started a business I started a cafe without really having all the backing and support of building a culture and you know, having the vision and mission in a formal manner. But I had the feeling, I always had the feeling that I wanted this company, I wanted this cafe to be a place where there is harmony, a place where culture and identity is up holded. So, I started by hiring young people whom I wanted to develop and work with me, because I believed in empowering the youth. I started by explaining to them what the vision is, I told them from day one, that our mission is to uphold our coffee culture. But the vision is really something bigger, because we wanted to be a world class coffee shop, a world class cafe, that is known for love of legacy and culture. So, when I started getting them on board, the vision and mission and all these things, it was very raw, but you know, this young people were able to at least listen and feel the passion that I had in me. So, I started with telling them that in our company, we should first and foremost have harmony. People are coming from different religions and ethnicity and regions. And, you know, there’s so many of those things that would divide us if you will. So, my initial message to this people is that when we are here in this company, we are one we think as one Filipino first before we think of you know, I’m from Pangasinan. I’m from Basila. And I’m from Hollo, and I’m a Muslim. She is so Subani. I wanted those labels out first, so that harmony can be achieved. And I think it was effective, like young people especially were feeling like oh, it’s an extended family that they found in the cafe.

Warsha 15:59
That is amazing.

Imelda 16:00
And it continues until today. What we have started back in 2015, I’m always there to remind them that this is how we started and we should continue it up to this day. And yeah, this place is a hub of culture, different cultures.

Evan 16:18

Imelda 16:19
Different religions, different ethnicity. But when we are in the cafe, we are one, we don’t feel it. And what manifested that it worked is that we were able to grow, you know, from one outlet to another outlet within a year, and then another outlet, and now moving out of the city also. So, I think it works, the formula of being in harmony, long before we could even think about teamwork and team building, we started with harmony, like, we have to be harmonious.

Warsha 16:54
Very nice.

Imelda 16:55
And it works.

Warsha 16:56
Totally, when we can see that it’s working so beautifully. Can you also tell us a little bit about, as I understand is your personal vision of bringing that sustainability towards not just the community with the planet at large and supporting the farmers that you source the coffee from? Can you talk us a little bit about how that came about?

Imelda 17:16
So in 2017, we started a small buying station. Initially, the goal was to, you know, have enough supply of coffee, I must be honest, it was all about the business at first. But when I started working with the farmers, thinking of how we can buy directly from them, instead of buying through the middleman, then I saw a whole new world of how we as coffee retail can help the farmers directly, we were providing a ready market for them. And we could buy, we disrupted the market, actually by buying at a higher price compared to how much a middleman would buy. Because that’s how I felt. I mean, it was not really a strategy or something because I’m not the season an entrepreneur by then also. But it was like listening to the heart that how can I help the farmers. So, by buying straight from the farmers, and increasing the price of the coffee, I realized that the coffee price being bought from the farmers directly did not change for the past 20 years, at least.

Warsha 18:30

Imelda 18:31
That was also a big revelation, big surprise. And at that time, I was working with my father when he was still alive. And we were buying because my father came from those tribes. So, he felt like, you know, he was the hero coming to save his own people because we were buying coffee at a higher price. And we could afford it because we were the ones using the coffee. We weren’t the end user; we were not the middleman.

Warsha 18:59

Imelda 19:00
We could afford to buy at a higher price from the farmers. So those things were also a learning opportunity for me, because I have not poke my fingers into buying directly from the farmers, I would not have also uncovered so many things. So that’s why I keep going back to you know, being in business is not only making money for yourself, but it’s you know, growing yourself through the experience and changing your life and changing other people’s lives.

Evan 19:30

Warsha 19:31
I think that is definitely a quotable quote, that being in business. So, very nice.

Evan 19:36
So Imelda, how did you identify and address gaps in your business model?

Imelda 19:42
Well, as I had said earlier, it’s because I always start from a position of not knowing anything. So, when you don’t know anything, you start.

Evan 19:54
To courage in that.

Imelda 19:55
Totally. I also realized that the discourage, it is courage to be humble. And humility is also strength. Because, right? I mean, that’s what I discovered, I would not have discovered, if I was just sitting in my office corner, you know, in my 9 to 5 job. I started from a position of not knowing anything, I was not coming from a background of, you know, food and beverage, although my parents were running the cafe, but I was not involved when I was young in running the business. So, I always start with a question, how do I do this? And if I cannot figure out on my own, I asked someone who knows better than me who had done the thing. So, it’s now reaching out to a coach or a mentor. So, in everything that I do, it’s the same formula. I start with not knowing it, and then try to figure it out if I cannot figure it out. I asked someone who knows, even starts with you know, like, the architect would ask me, how would you like your kitchen to be so how would I now decide my kitchen? Because I never had a commercial kitchen before? You know, you ask people, if you cannot figure it out, you ask people so, you know, what are the type of burners do I need? I mean, it all starts with small things and big things. So together, it all started with asking.

Evan 21:22
Totally amazing.

Imelda 21:23
That’s how I started, honestly, because I didn’t know anything. And from then on, I figured out, you know, one thing at a time.

Evan 21:34
And here you are with three outlets ha, it’s amazing.

Imelda 21:36
Now with three outlets, and yeah, actually, the fourth one is outside the city now, I know it’s not the best time because it’s pandemic. But it’s also a good time, you know why? I realized that you cannot keep all your eggs in one basket. So, if one city is on lockdown the other city.

Evan 21:55
Yeah well done!

Imelda 21:56
It’s not.

Evan 21:57
And I asked about family before is your husband working with you, has he joined you in the business?

Imelda 22:02
Yes, thankfully, my husband has joined me after one year of allowing me to start first, it’s a strategy, maybe of not testing the waters in both feet. So, I came back home, I came to the Philippines started the business first. And then more than a year after, when my husband saw, when we both saw that the business is gaining momentum, my husband joined me. And luckily, my husband is in the finance and accounts, you know, space, because that is not my expertise. I can talk and tell a story and as I said, figure out things and, you know, ask if I don’t know the answer. But numbers, it’s something that I cannot claim.

Evan 22:49
And that’s really interesting. So, you’ve actually got a wonderfully balanced partnership, moving forward together. I’m the finance guy in our space as well. But in terms of that, I’ve had a huge learning curve myself to get into the entrepreneurial space. So, my journey is not quite like versus or yours. But still, you know, my entire mindset had to change, I know that it’s wonderful to hear that you’re actually now working with your husband and moving forward together. It’s amazing.

Imelda 23:15
Yes, I totally appreciate having a husband, who can help me with my numbers. Because numbers don’t lie. I can tell a story and use fancy words and I will be able to convince you that the business is doing well. But numbers don’t lie and they tell a story and if you don’t pay attention to your numbers, because you’re not good at it. And if you don’t ask for help from someone who can read and do the numbers for you, then it’s going to be a problem in the business.

Evan 23:54
Look I totally agree and I commend you for having that flexible and adaptable mindset to actually recognize that and do something about it. I mean, one of my favorite things that I say to anybody, we coach in some of our peer groups, cash is cash everything else is a journal, really, everything at some point in your business boils down to cash.

Imelda 24:15
So true.

Warsha 24:16
So Imelda, one of the things that we’re both very keen on understanding from our guests and the entrepreneurs that we speak to is what so far has been your biggest breakthrough, personally or in the business.

Imelda 24:29
I think my biggest breakthrough is being able to return home and reconnect with my roots. That reconnection allowed me to discover myself, know myself better, and allowed me to change myself. And not only myself, but change other people’s lives by being able to provide jobs and create empowerment in the youth of our community.

Warsha 25:00
Very, very nicely said, Thank you.

Evan 25:02
So how different is your dinner table conversation with your kids now that you’re running your business.

Imelda 25:07
It’s totally different now. I would encourage my kids to take on the same path of being an entrepreneur, but of course giving them the freedom to choose whatever they hold close to their heart but I believe it is my duty to also share my experience because I always go back to the fact that if I did not move from being an employee  to becoming an entrepreneur I would not have had the opportunity to grow myself and impact the lives of people within my community, I would not have known that there are farmers who needed help to you know, change their lives as well. I would not have known that there are youth in our community who are not going to school and I’m not being productive anymore. So, by being in business is not just about improving your financial situation. It’s really improving the holistic person, you grow emotionally, of course you grow financially, you grow socially. And I found that being in business. That’s why I wanted to share I mean, I keep sharing this with my, my children even now.

Warsha 26:30

Imelda 26:31
So, my son has now shown interest in the business is being interrupted for the past four years. And I think it’s already done with employment. I am happy to welcome him to join us in the business. And I think he will be a very valuable addition to the team. And I see that what he brings into the table is something that will complement what I do not have.

Warsha 26:58

Imelda 26:59
So being the Founder, I also realized that I may be good at the founding phase of the business, at the start of the business, but I know for a fact that taking the business to the next level, growing the business, expanding the business, might not be within my expertise anymore. And that is why I would rather step down and allow people to join us in the organization so that the company can grow and be taken to the next level. If I have to cling on to ownership and you know take identity of the business as me, mine and just hold on to it, I wouldn’t see it to be controlling and not allowing the business to grow and prosper.

Warsha 27:49
Oh wow.

Evan 27:50

Warsha 27:51
That is actually very well said and very few entrepreneurs think like this even in these early stages of the business because for a lot of founders when they start the business a business is their baby. They begin identifying themselves as the business. And that’s where, right in the beginning, you’re setting the tone for the growth or the lack there of the business. So very, very well said, what a brilliant takeaway.

Evan 28:16

Warsha 28:17
Knowing what your strengths are, and knowing now what is required for the business and giving it, what it needs very nicely is that, thank you.

Evan 28:26
Love it. That’s wonderful. It’s amazing. And I love the fact you both say, offer them the choice. And yet you’re sharing your experience, because you mentioned earlier, where your parents didn’t necessarily share the business side of things with you. That’s amazing.

Warsha 28:40
So, I know also that you are within the community and within in your city, within the region, you are today recognized as one of the most inspirational entrepreneur and taking on from there, when you are standing up on stage when you’re talking to people or when you are talking to new entrepreneurs, what are the top three things that you would like to say to new entrepreneurs? What is the advice that you would give the new entrepreneur out there.

Imelda 29:08
To the new entrepreneurs, I would like to say congratulations for taking the courage to take on the entrepreneurial journey. Even if it’s not a walk in the park. It’s definitely fulfilling and just to continue on the journey, because it’s not really about you, but it’s also about others it’s also about helping your community and eventually, coming back to you the satisfaction and happiness comes back to you. Because our goal actually in life is to be of service, we are of service to people by being in business, you are serving your community, you are serving people and when you are serving your community, when you are doing service to others, it comes back to you in the form of happiness and satisfaction. So, to me, I would encourage all entrepreneurs to just go on and just believe in the vision that they have when they started, and whatever challenges that would come along, just to be steadfast and continue the journey. What helped me as an entrepreneur is really looking at myself and growing myself, being the leader who is there to support her team. And being a leader means being courageous as a leader, being ready to serve her people.

Warsha 30:42

Imelda 30:43
Because when I say serve, I keep coaching my people and that to me is service.

Warsha 30:47
Very nice.

Imelda 30:48
I keep growing myself. I continue reading, you know, it’s like morning, afternoon and evening I keep reading, I keep learning so that there’s always something new I can share with my team.

Warsha 31:02
Very nice.

Imelda 31:03
And I think that that’s the biggest thing that that I have ever done to support my team, I was not there to cook the meals with them or to brew the coffee with them. But I was there to coach them, you know, to call them into this room and then, you know, share with them what challenges they have, and what whatever nuggets of wisdom, I learned from all the seminars and articles that I read. And sharing with the mentors that I that I received, I share it with them also. And they become an extension of me, they become you know, because my, my thinking is, my mindset has to be their mindset as well. And the biggest thing that I could do is to coach them and make them feel supported. If I connect with them on a regular basis, they would also feel that I support them on a regular basis. So that is the biggest to me, growing myself and being the leader who is there to support the team, not being the leader will just, you know, tell them do this do that. People won’t even feel you support them because you’re just telling them do this do that. There’s no feeling of connection and feeling of support by giving instructions, but if you teach them and that would make them feel you care. And when people know you care, they will also care for you. When they fall in love with their vision, and they fall in love with you because you care, then, you know it’s the end of the game. You won the game.

Evan 32:46
Absolutely brilliant. Love it.

Warsha 32:49
Love it. Absolutely love it. What a beautiful quote that you just gave. Fall in love. When they fall in love with your vision. They fall in love with the what you are saying as a leader. That’s the game because then then they really care for the business for you and they begin thinking like taking, as Evan and I often say, they begin taking full accountability for the business. And the more you treat them as, as individuals, as adults, as somebody with a thinking brain, the less you have to worry about your business because your people will take care of your business.

Imelda 33:28

Warsha 33:29
Very nice.

Imelda 33.30
That based on experience.

Warsha 33:31
Oh totally, how lovely. That is wonderful

Evan 33:35
Imelda, you actually answered this once before, I think at least you inferred something about this. Tell me what is the what might you miss from your job other than the paycheck? What might you miss from your job and what benefits have you gained instead by being in business.

Imelda 33:52
Of course, there were things that I have learned from my job that allowed me to become the entrepreneur I am now? I was a secretary to the CEO and I had the opportunity to sit at board meetings and I think that allowed me to see through the management eyes, you know, that prepared me somehow that one day, these are the things that you should be watching for. So even as an employee because I was sitting in board meetings and doing minutes, I could also have a glimpse of you know, as an employer, what matters most to me to keep my business alive. So that’s not something that I missed but something I would credit to my being an employee prepared me to become the entrepreneur I am now. But to say that I have missed something, as an employee, being the Secretary to the CEO, I was not in the front line, you know, when, when there’s filing by the shareholders, I wasn’t in the front line. But now, I am in the front line of everything in front of all the stakeholders, I’m in the front line, whatever heat it is from my stuff, I have to, you know, take responsibility, the heat from the customers, I have to take responsibility, from my suppliers, I have to pay them on time. I have to make sure that there is cash to pay them, I have to take responsibility. So that that the comfort and complacency I say jokingly, but I could afford that when I was in my job, right?

Evan 35:31

Imelda 35:32
But now I can’t. That is a difference.

Evan 35:34

Warsha 35:35
Totally, totally no, no. But that is absolutely so true. And what I’d like to add at this stage from what you said, Imelda is also, it’s like the very famous quote, the buck stops with you.

Evan 35:48

Warsha 35:49
Because you’re the one person who cannot pass the buck on to anybody. Because everything comes and stop at your desk, the buck always stops with you. And it takes courage to accept that situation and that position.

Imelda 36:01
Thank you for that reminder Warsha.

Evan 36:03
And I can imagine that you’ve done more than replace your source of income, and you’re actually now making a huge difference in your community. In fact, I think once before you’d mentioned something about the coffee that you use its particular brand and it’s a well-known brand of coffee or at least a flavor of coffee.

Imelda 36:18
We call it it’s Robusta type of coffee, you know Robusta Arabica Excelsa.

Warsha 36:23
Yeah, yes, yeah.

Imelda 36:25
It’s Robusta variety, but it is coming from single origin. It’s organic, of course because the farmers from this part of the reach of the country do not know how to.

Evan 36:35
Oh Wow

Imelda 36:36
Use fertilizer.

Warsha 36:39
Oh wow.

Imelda 36:40
It’s coming from one source.

Warsha 36:41

Imelda 36:42
It’s not a mixture of coffee from this coffee from another part of the country. So, we really support one community of farmers at a time.

Evan 36:50

Warsha 36:51
That is amazing. What’s that coffee called?

Imelda 36:55
It’s called Kahawasu, in Arabic kahawa so kahawa so meaning Sulu coffee, coffee from Sulu, very single origin and organic.

Evan 37:05
I wonder if you are now going to branch out and start an export business.

Imelda 37:08
Why not? We have the Dare to Scale, you know. That’s why I’m here with you guys. I like your title. I like your encouragement Dare to Scale.

Warsha 37:19
Thank you. Yes, you know, Dare to Scale. Thank you for saying that you like it because it is Dare to Scale is all about people like you who have dared who have shown the courage who have taken that very big bold step. So, it really is about entrepreneurs like you.

Evan 37:36
What are the amazing serendipities that I’m sort of hearing is how do you not go on to speak to the farmers in the first place you wouldn’t have uncovered the plight if you will offer local farms but because you’re paying a better rate to them directly, you’re still buying cheaper than you would from the middleman. So, everybody’s winning.

Imelda 37:53

Evan 37:54
And then the next step so it’s about opportunity and seeing that opportunity. And you know what, maybe I was joking when I said, maybe an export business, but it could be a reality. We don’t know yet. And anything is possible, as you say, but you need to be there, and you need to show up and that’s what you’ve done. Amazing.

Warsha 38:09
Imelda, now that you mentioned Dare to Scale and that’s the ethos is all about courage. That ethos is all about daring. And we all have big aspirations as entrepreneurs, that’s why we do what we do. We love to hear from these wonderful people like you who we talk to. We love to hear what is your I Dare to statement.

Imelda 38:34
I Dare to Scale up my business and build it to become a $10 million worth company.

Warsha 38:43

Imelda 38:44
Is that big enough.

Warsha 38:45
You bet, wow, you totally nailed it. How amazing is that?

Imelda 38:51
I’m talking from the heart Warsha. I am talking from the heart.

Warsha 38:54
That’s the only way we know that whatever you say always comes, it’s that very strong alignment that you have inside you. And that came out as a brilliant, brilliant one. What an I Dare to statement fabulous. Do you have a timeline set around this at all?

Imelda 39:10
I would say in less than three years. If you look up the vision of Dennis Coffee Garden, which was created even without me knowing anything when I said at the start, I said we wanted to be a world class cafe, known or recognized for love of legacy and culture. So even when there was nothing, we haven’t even opened the cafe we were already talking about world class, because you have to start with an exit in mind. I mean, where do you want your cafe to go? Go world class, right? I mean people who would.

Warsha 39:46
You bet.

Imelda 39:47
Can help you will come and help you. But if you don’t say what you want, if you don’t know what you want, how can people help you?

Evan 39:54
Amazing yeah.

Warsha 39:55
So true. And that is one of the top tips from you, Imelda is if you don’t know what you want, how can you have people to come and help you because for people to come and to come and help you, you must be able to say what you want.

Imelda 40:06
And you Dare to say what you want if you don’t dare to say what you want oh I’m too shy to say that if you don’t dare say it, then the universe will also not collaborate and help you make things possible.

Evan 40:19

Imelda 40:20
Isn’t this.

Warsha 40:21
Oh yes, and I’m so busy scribbling taking notes, you have no idea the pages of notes that I have. And that’s exactly what you said just now also has gone down over there Dare to say what you want. There’s no point in being shy about a dare to say what you really want. Amazing.

Evan 40:38
And that is very much the other ethos is to stand up and be counted. It’s about courage, for sure.

Warsha 40:42
So, Imelda, besides the coffee. I know that Dennis Coffee Garden also takes great pride in keeping alive the traditions of local cuisine. Can you tell us a little bit about that and why specifically did this also get included in that coffee garden culture?

Imelda 41:01
When we started in 2015, true that it was already there when my grandmother started in 1962. So, what we did was to just put a little tweak of what was there, and make an upgrade version if you will. But more than that, our goal is really to preserve heirloom delicacies because these are not recipes.

Warsha 41:23

Imelda 41:24
Which are created by us today.

Warsha 41:26
Got it.

Imelda 41:27
These are recipes that has been there since time immemorial, long before my grandmother started her cafe in 1962. These are the native delicacies. That has been a part of the food culture of this particular tribe the thousand people. So, my intention really is to make sure that these heirloom delicacies continue to survive because as we know because of the modern times, young people are keen to just having the pizzas and pastas and to us, these are foreign food. So, If I do not

Warsha 42:07

Imelda 42:08
Champion, If I do not champion the revival of heirloom delicacies. Even my own children would not be able to relate to the food that I could identify with.

Warsha 42:21

Imelda 42:22
They will not even know what food is being stirred when I was growing up from my hometown, and it’s not only myself, other people also who have their kids growing outside overseas for example, they also wouldn’t be able to taste this kind of food if we did not have Dennis Coffee Garden, promoting and championing these delicacies.

Warsha 42:44
Very nice. So how has the response been particularly to the food tradition that you are keeping alive and reviving almost.

Imelda 42:51
You know, I would say that it is a blessing to me because I was not knowing that, even from day one as we opened the coffee shop, people were coming in, even without us, you know, having an announcement over the radio that we are opening. And we could not accommodate them all.

Warsha 43:11
Really wow.

Imelda 43:12
That’s why in less than a year, we had to open another branch that made me open another branch because the response was very welcoming and why because one probably, they miss the food that was being served from because you know it’s not the mainstream.

Warsha 43:32

Imelda 43:33
The mainstream cafe would serve croissant, cheese cake.

Warsha 43:35

Imelda 43:36
And cookie.

Warsha 43:37
Yes, yes.

Imelda 43:38
And, you know, buns and all these things. Whereas, what we were serving was something different from what is in the mainstream.

Warsha 43:46
Of course.

Imelda 43:47
I think, to me it was by, by chance that we hit the jackpot you know.

Warsha 43:53
Well, having said that, there is no such thing as chance you knew there was something else that was your calling, and you made it happen and one of the things for me, which has been a very big takeaway when we have been following your journey, specifically Imelda is the fact that you have your finger very strongly on the pulse of the market, your values that you built and the culture that you built your business on is very much reviving traditions and you have really brought this into a significant and successful reality and.

Imelda 44:29
Thank you. It’s a good reminder to me you Warsha Thank you.

Warsha 44:33
And it’s such a brilliant lesson for entrepreneurs everywhere. It’s not just doing something because it will sell it is also being true to who you are as a business.

Imelda 44:43
Thank you.

Warsha 44:44
Absolutely fantastic. Imelda. In January, our focus at Dare to Scale is on efficient operations. So, could you talk to us a little bit about when you started a business of course there was, as we already know now, it was starting from scratch. What are some of the things that you put in place in terms of operations and standardizing those operations because you then grew from one to two to three outlets. So, you’re basically replicating something that you built in the first outlet. So, can you talk to us a little bit about how did you go about breaking those operations standards.

Imelda 45:22
In over a very short period I was a flight attendant.

Evan 45:23
Amazing never knew that

Warsha 45:25
Oh Wow.

Imelda 45:26
When I was in Yemen I did mention I was in Yemen, that was for to work for Yemen Airways, I carried that strategy of having checklists, like for opening the shop, there is a checklist, during the whole operations there’s a checklist closing the shop there’s a checklist.

Warsha 45:43

Imelda 45:44
So everything is a checklist, if I’m the supervisor one your supervisor two I have my own checklist you have your own checklist so that we don’t, kind of, you know, duplicate our function. If you’re not working today and I have to do your functions, then I just have to look at your checklist. It’s one of those things that help us really manage the day-to-day operations.

Warsha 46:07

Imelda 46:08
Aside from checklist I also have a simple reminder to my people where I just tell them that it’s easy to remember, you just focus on safety, excellent service, quality, and cleanliness. Safety means for everyone, for themselves, the employees, everyone the customers for everybody, safety comes first, and then excellent service. So, we serve with excellence, we don’t just serve with, you know like, okay, drop the plate and leave. You do it excellently. And then third is quality, so quality in everything we do the food, even the look of the food, the smell of the food, it has to be of quality.

Warsha 46:50

Imelda 46:51
And then cleanliness in everything. It has to be clean the surrounding the food of course the drinks and the surroundings, have to be clean. So, I said, why do we have to make it complicated they are so simple to remember just remember those and then execute it, so I think that worked.

Warsha 47:10

Imelda 47:11
And one of the things that would like to advise, entrepreneurs, is to have a checklist, because checklists, are lifesaving you know in everything that you do if you have a checklist, you cannot go wrong, the checklist contains only things which are very very important things which you should not miss. Other things can be part of your job description, but the checklist is a must for the shift that you are doing, there will be less headache for the entrepreneur.

Warsha 47:45
That is so true and you know, even as coaches, this is one of the examples that we give as well that how many hours do pilots have to fly. Every time a, whether they get their license or every single time that they get into the corporate and sit down and you prepare for your flight. How many hours of experiences that despite that, what do they do as a practice, they go through a checklist.

Imelda 48:10
Checklist sure.

Warsha 48:11
Every single time. How well you know what you’re doing. It is about following protocol and it’s about following a checklist.

Imelda 48:19

Warsha 48:20
To make sure that it is, it’s a matter of discipline.

Imelda 48:22

Warsha 48:23
They go through the checklist so you know you have covered everything. So, thank you for talking about the checklist. I love that.

Imelda 48:31
Thank you. Thank you.

Warsha 48:31
Very nice. Evan over to you.

Evan 48:33
I love the checklist and the process Warsha when you were talking about pilots and regardless of your experience the years and the sky and all that sort of thing. It still is about a checklist and around to the, I think it was YouTube there was a clip in Japan, they teach train drivers a little song, and it’s about the checklist so if they need their hands to actually operate all the equipment, so they’re singing a little song and checking this checking that that song that song. You know and everything you’ve just said them all day is exactly the same sort of thing it’s just it’s about that process and you teach it, and you teach it with a smile.

Warsha 49:06
What a great way to give that memory aid. It’s letting that trigger and making it fun because, for us, it’s important that our team has fun while they go about their day-to-day work or task while they go about their lives. If something is not fun then it becomes a chore. It has.

Imelda 49:26
Specially for the young people Warsha.

Warsha 49:27
You bet you bet absolutely believe me, young or otherwise, it’s got to be through

Imelda 49:33
Young or otherwise.

Evan 49:35
Fun fun and fresh.

Warsha 49:37
So ya I am going to look that up fun and fresh. Imelda, what would you like to add is there anything that you would like to say.

Imelda 49:44
I think what I want to also add is that, I thought I wanted to find a replacement income? But in the end, above and beyond the replacement income, I stumbled into a more meaningful purpose in life, and that is to go back to my roots, reconnect with my roots, and using that reconnection to grow myself, not only grow myself, but also grow, other people. I thought I was just building a business, but now I realized that I’m also building a family, and extended family, which is very fulfilling.

Evan 50:21
So powerful.

Warsha 50:22
How amazing, absolutely powerful.

Evan 50:23

Warsha 50:24
Definitely kudos to you.

Imelda 50:26
Thank you.

Warsha 50:27
For daring to dream, and for daring to make it happen to turn this into a reality for transforming lives for doing what you do so well and to the best of your abilities, and in that process, helping develop people around you.

Imelda 50:43
Thank you Warsha. I think I also wanted to add that the reason why I go out and share my story is because I know that I get inspiration from people who also share their stories.

Warsha 50:48
Oh yes.

Imelda 50:49
And one of those stories, is your story.

Warsha 51:02
Oh Thank you. That’s very kind.

Imelda 51:04
Honestly, I said that before to you because when we were in Oman at that time and I got to meet Sue France, through Sue I heard your story and got me thinking that.

Warsha 51:16

Imelda 51:17
You know I want something like that.

Warsha 51:19
Absolutely. Nice to hear this thank you so much for sharing your story today with us. And with all our listeners, because exactly as you said, someone’s story inspired you Your story is going to inspire hundreds and thousands of people out there to make their dream a reality. Thank you so much for that. Thank you.

Imelda 51:40
Thank you Warsha.

Warsha 51:41
Hey hey hey, thanks for joining us and listening, right till the end.

Evan 51:47
Get on over to daretoscale.fm to subscribe and access show notes and transcriptions.

Warsha 51:53
Oh also, did you know that we have a Facebook page for our podcast listeners. Come join the conversations at daretoscale.fm/facebook.

Evan 52:04
Absolutely, oh and also remember to give us a five-star review so other entrepreneurs can find this podcast like you, and get value to scale forward their business.

Warsha 52:13
Fabulous, we will see you at our next show. Bye for now.

Evan 52:17


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We use both session and persistent cookies on the Site and we use different types of cookies to run the Site:

  • Essential cookies. Necessary for the operation of the Site. We may use essential cookies to authenticate users, prevent fraudulent use of user accounts, or offer Site features.
  • Analytical / Performance cookies. Allow us to recognize and count the number of visitors and see how visitors move around the Site when using it. This helps us improve the way the Site works.
  • Functionality cookies. Used to recognise you when you return to the Site. This enables us to personalise our content for you, greet you by name, and remember your preferences (for example, your choice of language or region).
  • Targeting cookies. Record your visit to the Site, the pages you have visited, and the links you have followed. We will use this information to make the Site and the more relevant to your interests. We may also share this information with third parties for this purpose.

Third-party cookies

In addition to our own cookies, we may also use various third-party cookies to report usage statistics of the Site and refine marketing efforts.

  • Tracking cookies. Follow on-site behavior and tie it to other metrics allowing better understanding of usage habits.
  • Optimization cookies. Allow real-time tracking of user conversion from different marketing channels to evaluate their effectiveness.
  • Partner cookies. Provide marketing conversion metrics to our partners so they can optimize their paid marketing efforts.
  • Google Analytics. We use this to understand how Dare To Scale is being used in order to improve the user experience. Your user data is all anonymous. You can find out more about Google’s position on privacy as regards its analytics service at Google Privacy Overview
  • Facebook Advertising. We use Facebook advertising conversion tracking and re-targeting pixels, which allows us to collect or receive information from your website and elsewhere on the internet and use that information to provide measurement services and target advertising.

What are your choices regarding cookies?

If you’d like to delete cookies or instruct your web browser to delete or refuse cookies, please visit the help pages of your web browser.

Please note, however, that if you delete cookies or refuse to accept them, you might not be able to use some or all of the features we offer. You may not be able to log in, store your preferences, and some of our pages might not display properly.

Most web browsers allow some control of most cookies through the browser settings. To find out more about cookies, including how to see what cookies have been set, visit www.aboutcookies.org or www.allaboutcookies.org.
Find out how to manage cookies on popular browsers:
Google Chrome
Microsoft Edge
Mozilla Firefox
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Apple Safari

To find information relating to other browsers, visit the browser developer’s website.
To opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites, visit Google Analytics Optout.

We are planning to enhance our cookie tool to allow users to more easily change their cookie settings after their initial choice.