Health Tech: James Bellis On How Balance Coffee’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness

An Interview With Dave Philistin

Dave Philistin, CEO of Candor
Authority Magazine

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Use proven strategies to increase engagement — build reward systems, loyalty perks to get people engaged further. Human psychology Is built on fundamental motivators and understanding these can really help create tech products that can change the world.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing James Bellis.

James Bellis is a food & drink entrepreneur from London, UK. James worked tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic building two digital businesses. James believes that using business an opportunity to improve people and our planet should be a requirement and these issues should be tackled just like any other business challenge.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in London, UK in a very supportive family who had high expectations of me. This forced me to rebel and the majority of my education was a bumpy ride of ‘failures’ in most subjects, courses and even a degree’.

Coming out of university with a failed degree was the nail in the coffin for my younger self, so my twenties were all about becoming the best version of myself. Studying, learning and getting excited about creating things.

I gained some amazing insight growing up too. I watched my mum and her best friend set up a Havaianas flip flop business selling at markets and then online in the early 2000’s. It was growing really well before it unfortunately got shut down however, getting exposure to this made me believe it was all about taking risks and trying ideas.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The last 24 months have been the biggest whirlwind and most interesting part of my story to date. In December 2019, pre pandemic, I took a trip from London to Bali to travel. After seeing the remote work lifestyle, I decided the time was now to pull the plug and leave full time employment as sales manager of a coffee machine company. I’d been setting up a social media agency on the side with a co-founder, specialising in the restaurant sector. I arrived back in the UK, immediately handed in my notice and went all in as they say. Little did I know, Covid-19 was around the corner, forcing the world to close (including my new clients). The business plan was void overnight and so I had to figure out a new plan. After a few weeks and plenty of wine, I decided my experience in the coffee industry had to be used somehow.

People wanted coffee at home during lockdown, I set out to build an innovative online coffee brand which focused on people’s health using top notch ingredients and careful testing procedures to ensure what our customers were putting into their body, made them feel great and had long lasting benefits.

We’re advancing well and have some exciting new plans and healthy coffee product launches in 2022.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Two mentors of mine who both remain good friends of mine to this day. Andrew Tucker and Augusto Melendrez both old bosses who I worked underneath in my main career role working in sales. They taught me to work hard, be adaptable and always be strategising and executing. Important aspects tI’ve never forgotten and use on a daily basis.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favourite quote of all time is: CHANGE HAPPENS WHEN THE PAIN OF STAYING THE SAME IS GREATER THAN THE PAIN OF CHANGE’. It was the quote that I read in Bali which literally made me make the decision to go solo on my own venture.

At that time, the pain of remaining unfulfilled in my current job was greater than me risking everything to fulfil my dreams of running my own business.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Tenacity — This has definitely been a top trait that had led me produce so much work in the last two years. I also set up Eating In London in early 2021 which was a huge task whilst managing Balance Coffee however, my tenacity to create things I care about powered me through the hard times.

2. Belief — You have to keep believing in what you are building. There are major low points that need to be reinforced in the moment of why you’re doing what you are doing. I’d say this is essential for most entrepreneurs to keep the daily grind going.

3. Adaptability — Jumping into an area of expertise I had no experience in came with it’s own set of challenges. Being adaptable, and having the ability to learn fast has been one of my most successful traits.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?

How do you think your technology can address this?

Climate change is certainly causing worry and anxiety for our future and future generations to come. It’s an enormous issue which is increasingly becoming more alarming. At Balance, being sustainable underpins everything we do and our goal is to include our customers in the same initiative by purchasing from us.

We’ve been proactively planting trees for over a year with Ecologi and we’re excited to announce that we’ve now set up an API to automatically plant trees for all coffee subscription customers. They’ll automatically plant trees as part of their coffee subscription for each renewal order.

It’s a great way for our customers to also come on this journey with us. On average our customers are removing 1tonne of Co2 from the atmosphere every year which we think is great.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

I watched a David Attenborough documentary in early 2020 and I realised businesses had to become the driving force to use their company as a tool for change. I wanted to become a start up business that stood for that message from the off and it’s only through tangible action can we achieve results. In 2022 we’ll be exploring BCorp accreditation.

How do you think this might change the world?

I believe everyone has a part to play, but our efforts to grow into a dominant player in the UK coffee market means we’ll have a huge impact on the environment. Coffee naturally carries a weighty footprint due to the process and transportation.

This emphasises the importance of our proactive approach to using technology in business as a tool for change. It’s about making initiatives like tree planting easy and accessible for our customers so that’s something we’re contining to work on.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Planting trees remains one of the most effective solutions for climate change mitigation so I think the technology seems only positive to me.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)

1. Understand who your customers are — Make sure you really know who your customers are. Think about their habits, beliefs & desires to ensure you’re communicating your message effectively to get maximum engagement.

2. Educate and Inspire — use your brand or company to educate and inspire your audience / customers.

3. Make it easy — simplicity is always best. In a world full of noise and fight for attention, people need things at the upmost convenience. Building tech and systems to help make an impact requires you make the process easy for customers.

4. Get your customers involved — Community has become even more important in a digital world. Creating a community for customers to become involved and have a voice is an amazing way to drive change.

5. Use proven strategies to increase engagement — build reward systems, loyalty perks to get people engaged further. Human psychology Is built on fundamental motivators and understanding these can really help create tech products that can change the world.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Imagine if you grew up in a world where you stepped foot outside and you couldn’t breathe clean fresh air. Imagine a world where every day there were new changes in climate making certain countries inhospitable. This coupled with an increase in population will be a catastrophe.

Change now secures security for our future generations so we must act now.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Absolutely. It’d be Tim Ferris without question. Someone who I’ve been following for many years now. I’m an avid podcast listener. I love how his brain works, and his interests are generally aligned to mine so I think we’d have some great conversations.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

For healthy coffee in the UK you can find us here:

www.balancecoffee.co.uk

IG: @balancecoffee

For all things Food & Drink In London you can find us here:

www.eatinginlondon.co.uk
IG: @eating_in_london

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

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Dave Philistin, CEO of Candor
Authority Magazine

Dave Philistin Played Professional Football in the NFL for 3 years. Dave is currently the CEO of the cloud solutions provider Candor