Greg Ubert wants to save the independent coffeehouse from extinction. A Harvard-trained economist, he's waging a grass-roots marketing war against Starbucks. "Independent coffeehouses recognize the need to compete against the behemoth," says the 39-year-old founder and president of CrimsonCup.
Launched as a wholesaler of coffee beans in 1991, the $5 million Columbus, Ohio, firm crusades for the survival of its customer base--360 independent coffeehouses. By offering marketing support, consulting and everything from beans to advertising banners, CrimsonCup ensures customers gain the benefits of a recognizable national brand without sacrificing the authenticity of independence.
The quality seal program is catching on: About 70 coffeehouses in 16 states display the CrimsonCup logo, and the company's sixth Independents' Day, a popular annual gathering, is expected to draw more than 150 coffeehouse owners this year.