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Advertising for Coffee: Rootless Coffee Co.

Rootless Coffee in front of Flint Mural

Advertising for Coffee: Rootless Coffee Co.

As ridiculous as it may sound, the process of forming a business is much like making a delicious cup of coffee. This goal cannot be reached without a trial and error process. Be present with the unknown and experiment. Do you like your coffee black or do you like it with accompaniments such as cream and sugar? Find out what best fits you in order to ensure that you have made a delicious cup of coffee. This analogy has been practiced by Sean Murray, CEO and co-founder of Rootless Coffee Co., in his journey toward finding his business niche.

Sean Murray from Rootless Coffee

Sean before Rootless

Before he committed himself to being the CEO of an established company, Murray was testing the waters. Gaining experience through different customer service jobs.  

“I was in customer service for most of my life,” said Murray. “ I started working at McDonald’s when I was 15. And I served at a restaurant when I was 18. I spent the better part of my 20s as a bartender, and I worked in a craft brewery.”

These experiences in customer service certainly play a part in his entrepreneurship journey. However, this journey began in his childhood years.  

“From the business standpoint, I started very young,” said Murray. “I always had an entrepreneurial thing going– cutting lawns or shovelling snow.” 

By the time he reached his early twenties, he engaged in a live entertainment startup, to boot. Performing trivia and bar bingo. While honing his ambitions and figuring out his purpose, he realized how important it was to have patience. It would eventually pay off. 

Rootless Coffee Co. at the Flint Farmers Market

The Birth of Rootless

He began working at a craft brewery, an experience in which he took pleasure in. In addition, his stint at the brewery provided him with an incentive to want to start his own brew pub. Due to personal experiences, he reconsidered. But he always had a love for coffee so the natural inclination for him was to roast coffee.  

“I’ve loved coffee for so long,” said Murray. ”I wound up in Flint and decided I was going to work in a coffee shop. Because I wanted to learn and this was the time to do it.”

It is certain that experience makes all the difference, because within two months he was promoted to manager. And immediately asked, by the owner, to become a partner. This was the opportunity he had been waiting for. He graciously accepted.

Murray and his partner carried out their plan, which only lasted a while until Murray decided to move on to other endeavors. This experience led him to Rootless.  

“I didn’t want to give up the dream,” said Murray. “I wanted to make coffee, but make it my way.”

Jono Diener of Rootless Coffee

The Dynamic Duo and Advertising of Coffee

The old proverb, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are,” translates into surrounding yourself around like-minded individuals. Most entrepreneurs never seek partners due to fear, inadequacy, or lack of time commitment. But when Sean Murray asked Chief Creative Officer of Rootless Coffee Co, Jonathan “Jono” Diener, to be his partner he couldn’t have made a better decision.  

Both men shared a similar backstory in terms of their dissatisfaction with their respective 9-5s. Ironically, Rootless wasn’t born out of frustration. They didn’t want to focus on the negative. They simply saw the potential to do things a different way. 

“When I was looking for some help with Rootless, I sought out Jono,” said Murray. “I knew he was a writer and I wanted a creative personality with a launch.”

He was further reassured that he made the right decision based on their collective rumination and ability to share the same vision. 

“We were in sync on everything,” said Murray. “We both wanted a coffee company that was not pretentious and that would be accessible to everyone but still craft coffee. Also, we wanted to work with artists and bands. All the dreams that I had for a coffee company were the same dreams he had.”

Rootless Coffee Co. Sticker

The Name Rootless and All it Stands for

The name Rootless was adopted from a song by one of Murray’s favorite artists. In addition, Rootless represents Murray’s resolute desire to move without any limitations. 

“We don’t hold ourselves to one thing,” said Murray. “If something is cool and we like it, and we feel passionate about it. We do it.”

The philosophy is to have ambiguity and to not be fixated on one thing. You will close yourself off to opportunities because of this.

Located in Flint, MI, a city that is prime for serious change it is certainly advantageous to have companies, such as Rootless, who want to serve as a staple and provide as many services as possible for the communal good. Murray has received much respect and support from the city of Flint and it’s important to reciprocate it back.  

“This company was born in Flint, and it will die in Flint,” said Murray. “Business is a medium to do great things. Whatever money we earn, we are not going to stuff our pockets and go to space. We’re going to do whatever we can to give back, because I can’t take the money with me.”

“Opening a business is a matter of when you do it. If you keep saying you're going to do it and you actually work on it, you will do it.”

Sean Murray, Rootless Coffee Co.

The Secret to Advertising for Rootless Coffee

As the scrappy craft coffee company began to spread its wings, along came pop culture parodies that garnered added attention. Honing in on niche classics like Twin Peaks and The Big Lebowski made advertising for Rootless Coffee no-brainer fun, in more ways than one.

Each roast has its own video to promote the product and gave extra attention to everything surrounding the “vibe” of the coffee. Whereas other craft coffee companies boast their regions and other specifics, this Flint, Michigan small business likes to create a feeling.

With exciting updates, incredible discounts, and overall goofy content, the crew has garnered a die-hard fanbase. Both ecommerce and wholesale accounts continue to grow as the scale of the company has nearly quadrupled in the first year.

Advertising for a Coffee Shop

Although Rootless Coffee Co. does not have a coffee shop, it does have a brick and mortar roastery in Flint, Michigan. The company allows a local pickup option for customers to place their order online and wait in the parking lot for curbside pickup. These simple and easy to access steps only add to the sustainable growth of the startup.

Currently located in The Good Beans Cafe, Flint’s oldest coffee shop, Rootless is one of many coffee-related businesses in the city. With hopes of one day dipping their toes in the cafe waters, the guys from Rootless are enjoying the ride simply roasting.

“Starting during a global pandemic, we opted to avoid the coffee shop concept,” said co-owner Jono Diener. “But as we grow and cultivate a unique following, we’re excitedly toying with the idea of one day opening a one-of-a-kind experience for our people.”

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