Edward Cowan: a cricket career with the aroma of a coffee business *Image Source: Ed Cowan
"...even though my focus is still on cricket, this venture has given me a nice distraction and in fact allowed me to play with a clear mind."
- Ed Cowan, Professional Cricket Player and co-founder of Tripod Coffee.
Australian cricketer, Ed Cowan speaks to FirstStep.me about balancing his ambitious career in sport with his business endeavours in the coffee industry!
Tell us more about your career as a professional cricketer? My professional cricket career took a little bit longer to kick off than some. It was in a time before rookie contracts and large state squads, so I was 22 before receiving a call up to play for NSW (New South Wales). Prior to that I had plugged away playing for Sydney University Cricket Club, where I was studying Commerce/Law. I actually made my first class cricket debut in England while on exchange playing for Oxford Uni CCE. (FirstStep.me says Awesome!)
In my first year in the NSW team I decided not to place all my eggs in one basket, so I worked in a boutique investment bank - Gresham Partners in Sydney. However working both jobs became impossible. I wasn't giving enough attention to either and after a year of working around the clock and on weekends, I decided to give cricket a full time crack. (FirstStep.me takes notes!)
You have started a project called Tripod Coffee, how did this come about, especially with your career focussed on cricket? Tripod Coffee came about from finally putting into action an idea rather than just talking about it.
Having travelled the world playing cricket, I had relied on Nespresso coffee in some far flung places for my morning fix. I loved the concept, but didn't like the coffee, nor the fact that you could not easily recycle your capsules. It is a significant environmental issue.
With Steve Cazzulino, my former Tasmanian opening batting and now business partner, we decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurial waters. We knew the market was huge and we found a supplier who has access to cutting edge capsule technology. The result of which (Tripod Coffee) we are very proud of.
Is it difficult to balance the new business with cricket and what have been the challenges in growing the business? I have found, even though my focus is still on cricket, this venture has given me a nice distraction and in fact allowed me to play with a clear mind.
The challenges have been constant but we have stayed on top of them with good planning and an attitude of rolling with the punches a bit. Good days and bad days are treated with the same sense of adventure.
Tell us more about where the beans for Tripod Coffee comes from and how will you be increasing your product range in the future? Currently we have a Panamanian coffee (black Panama), and Single Origin Kenyan AA (gold Sombrero) as well as an African blend (red fedora). We are currently looking to add two new capsules - Blue Beret (a Central American blend) and Grey Gaucho (a South American blend) in the coming months.
In terms of distribution and sales – how do you manage the logistics of this? Both Steve and I are day to day managers. We have a great distribution team based out of Sydney, led by another former Tasmanian cricketer, Sandy Rogers. As for sales, we have split our roles as Steve looks after retail stores and online, whilst I try to manage Hotel and business clients.
The joy of a small business though is being across all the issues and we find ourselves as salesmen, logistics, marketing - the list is endless. If it needs doing, it is only us who can do it! (FirstStep.me says well put!)
By setting up a business during your cricket career does it help pave the way for a future after cricket? Further, do you think athletes in general should be trying to look to creating/planning for life after sport? Absolutely. If anything it might allow me to play a little longer than I would have otherwise. The opportunity cost in playing into your 30s is that you become less employable in the real world. I think athletes should start to plan earlier their transition out of sport. Perhaps 2-3 years so that the moment they do retire, they know exactly what they are going to do. Studying or part time work are imperative to consider whilst still playing as a professional sportsperson.
Do you kick-start your day with a cup off coffee? (The FirstStep.me team are coffee mad!) Of course, it is part of the morning ritual. I live on caffeine. (The FirstStep.me team replaces Oxygen with Caffeine as the vital necessity for a business start up!)
What have been the highlights of your career thus far? Highlights have included my Test debut, winning the Sheffield Shield and my first international hundred. I will look back on my career with incredible memories of friendships and life experiences. I have had the best job in the world for 10 years.
If you could name your own planet what would you call it? Random question - Romy after my daughter.
Message for the youth of the planet? Recycle your coffee capsules!
About: You can follow Ed Cowan on @EddieCowan and find out more about Tripod Cofee on TripodCoffee.com.au