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Meet Shea Coakley of LeanBox, Grind Coffee, Back Bay Roasters, and Perks Convention in Back Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shea Coakley.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shea. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Running your own business hasn’t always been as sexy as it is today, but the idea of creating something from scratch, putting my mark on the world, and becoming my own boss always seemed like an ideal life.

I worked in some fairly traditional corporate office environments. When I was exiting my last traditional gig to go chase the dream, I had a conversation with a consulting manager at the company that I’ll never forget. When he learned that I was going into the food tech space, he asked me “If I really wanted to leave all this for a sweaty apron”. I keep a sweaty apron behind my desk and my hope is that I can send it to him when my company IPOs.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The challenge for us relates to some rather lofty goals we have in a wide range of ventures. We are dead set on becoming a household name and truly disrupting the corporate food service model. There are always going to be challenged, but going from 0 to twenty million dollars is an entirely different challenge than going from our current status to becoming a nationally recognized player. Running a startup really is like building the plane mid-flight.

Three years ago I used to go to bed some night thinking we would be a 500 million dollar company and the next night sharpening up my resume. Things are different now. We have product-market fit. Now it’s just about building the best company we can be.

LeanBox, Grind Coffee, Back Bay Roasters, Perks Convention (if only one, LeanBox) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My team and I started this journey by identifying two simple problems. Employees have a difficult time finding ways to access good food and beverages during the workday. In addition, Employers find it incredibly challenging to build food and beverage culture to attract and maintain talent. Our first solution, and still our “tip of the spear”, was the invention of a smart refrigerator the offers the benefits of a managed cafeteria without the cost and space requirements of a corporate cafeteria.

Essentially, we are using technology to provide the majority of American workforces (employee populations of 30-800) a way to access great food during the day without a multi-million dollar cafe. As a result of our learnings with the LeanBox smart refrigerator, we have spun off into a number of different ventures, all owned and operated by the same team. We operate an innovative office coffee service (GrindCoffee.com), a 30,000 sq foot state of the art coffee and beverage facility (backbayroasters.com), and a somewhat stealthy tech company that will be launching some interesting products into the market in 2019.

I’ve personally become fascinated with the cosmic shift going on right now in work environment. Work-life balance is shifting to a work-life blend. I co-founded a professional network and annual conference (Perkscon.com) that pairs up forward-thinking companies with innovative start-ups that focus on work culture. Millennials are expecting more from their company then 401ks, benefits packages, and vacation policies. They want to work for a company that shows them they care about their day to day quality of life.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My dad always used to urge me to carve out a career doing something I enjoy. I can honestly say that I get up every single morning happy to go into work. Don’t get me wrong. Growing a startup is incredibly stressful and often has more questions than answers. The old “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” has certainly been true for me.

I think most people would consider me pretty career oriented, but to be honest, success is much more rounded then what you do for a paycheck. I have an amazing wife and two incredible daughters. I think matching a passion for your business life with a focus on relationships and “off the clock” interests is critical to real success.

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