Entrepreneurship and the Background of People: Starbucks Story

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Entrepreneurship and the Background of People: Starbucks Story

Jing Chen

Comm 421

Prepared by:

Andy Leung

Jim Guan

An entrepreneur comes in many forms. The definition of entrepreneurs can be vaguely defined as the practice of starting new businesses in response to identified opportunities. Entrepreneurship is valuable to the economy and we can measure the positive impact through thermodynamics. To evaluate the impact of entrepreneurs, this paper will analyze the background of entrepreneurs and how these special individuals can change the economic system through the Starbucks case study.
Information Theory:
In the information value theory in The Physical Foundations of Economics, the formula for the value of information is defined as H (P) = -log(b) P . In this formula, the value of information increases as the probability of obtaining such information. For example, the information that is revealed in stock magazines is not as valuable as insider information about certain companies. Since everyone has access to stock magazine, investors will generally make the same choice, giving no competitive edge to each other. This information value is important to understand because the success of entrepreneur is tied with the amount of information they receive. So is it fair to say that anyone with greater access to valuable information will become a successful entrepreneur?
Expert versus Novice:

Experts can be broadly defined as any individual with valuable information in any fields. Novice can be defined as any individual with no specific valuable information in any field and is always seeking new information. From this definition, experts seem to be the entrepreneurs because they have valuable information on their hands to start new businesses. However, through several theories in The Physical Foundation of Economics, it can be proved that it is the novice that tends to become successful entrepreneurs.

Conservatism is part of the entropy theory of human psychology. Conservatism in human beings maybe characterized as behavior by individuals who possess a reluctance to update their beliefs in the face of new information. Based on Shannon’s entropy theory of information, the amount of information received is reduced by the prior knowledge of the individual. From an expert point of view, they are reluctant to accept new information which hampers their ability to become entrepreneur. Entrepreneur has to have a dynamic factor because they always seek to invent new business in the light of new opportunities. The expert will more likely ignore these new opportunities because of their inability to effectively process new information. A novice, on the other hand, always seeks new information and because their prior knowledge is not as much as an expert, they have greater capability to effectively process new information and use it to their advantage.

Framing is part of the entropy theory of human psychology. Framing can be defined as the selective influence over the individual’s perception of the world. In the expert-novice framework, experts’ perception of the world is pre-determined while the novice is skeptical to the world environment. In a stable environment, the expert performs very well because of accurate forecasts, so their returns would be significant. The novice, due to its lack of perception, will not have these forecasts. However, in a dynamic environment, the speculations from the experts are usually wrong and will use their powers to limit variance in their portfolio or business. For a novice, due to its lack of perception, will be more willing to take risk and achieve a greater return in a dynamic environment. Expert will always avoid risk because they feel they have perception of what will happen and they strong believe a certain event will happen, giving them limited return. A novice with no specific preference will tend to risk more of their capital, and in some instances the return in this dynamic environment will be far greater than the expert.

Opportunities and Information relation:
From the above examples, the paper shows that information value is not directly related to entrepreneurs. If anything, it rejects the idea that anyone who obtains scarce information will become successful entrepreneurs. It would be wrong to reject this idea because entrepreneurship does have a relation with information value theory, but an additional variable must be added. In order to become a successful entrepreneur, the individual (expert or novice) must realize the opportunity associated with the value of information and turn it into economic value. Experts may have all the information they need, but if they fail to generate opportunities presented by the information, they are not entrepreneurs. In the Starbucks case, it presents us with a good example of how three experts fail to utilize their valuable knowledge and how a novice came in and took this information and turns it into great economic value.
Starbucks story:
The original Star Bucks store was opened in 1971 by three coffee enthusiasts: Jerry Baldwin, Zev Seigal, and Gordan Bowker. The three partners were passionate about coffee making and sold high quality coffee beans and equipment. This store acted as a retail outlet, and did not sell any coffee drinks.

Jerry Baldwin, Zev Seigal, and Gordan Bowker were truly experts in their respective field. Coffee was introduced to America centuries ago, but the three believed the quality of coffee that was served at fast food restaurant and supermarket were below par. Starbucks exclusively sold green coffee beans, which was rare in America even in today. Most supermarkets sold roasted coffee beans that were roasted in factories that were not located in the United States. The three partners believe once the coffee beans are roasted, they are subject to oxidize, therefore losing most of its flavor. To ensure that roasted coffee beans do not get eroded, they believe the roasting process should be done at home. Once the coffee beans are roasted, Starbucks sold grinder as well to grind the roasted coffee beans. In order to make coffee, a grinder was needed to brew the coffee. The grinding process usually happens right before brewing, because once the roasted coffee beans are grinded, they erode very fast and the flavor leaves the beans. The Starbucks store sold all three equipments to ensure fresh coffee: the roaster, the grinder, and the brewer. To ensure customer satisfaction, they spend a great deal of time explaining to customer on how long to roast coffee beans and the oxidation factor associated with roasted coffee beans.

Howard Schultz, an entrepreneur from New York, visited Seattle in 1981 because he discovered a store by the name of Starbucks that was purchasing a lot of coffee making equipment. Once he made the stop at Starbucks and tried some of its coffee, he fell in love with it. He admired the quality of coffee that they brew, but also admired the passion in which the three partners have for coffee. He was relatively a novice in terms of understanding coffee and decided to join the Starbucks team as a director of marketing and consultant.
In 1982, Howard Schultz made a trip to Europe that changes his life forever. He went to Europe and fell in love with espresso drink and coffee on the go. He envision coffee shops in the United States selling coffee on the go, selling to consumers who wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee while chatting it up in a Starbucks store. When he went back to Seattle to introduce this new concept to Jerry Baldwin, Zev Seigal, and Gordan Bowker, the three partners immediately rejected his idea. They believe if they tried to make coffee on the go, it would not be possible to sell the highest quality coffee to consumers because it takes a great deal of time to complete the coffee making process: roast, grind, and brew. Furthermore, the partners believe coffee should be a beverage enjoyed at home while sitting on the living couch.

Howard Schultz wasn’t afraid of taking risk and he opened a coffee chain a few years later in Seattle that sold coffee on-the-go. It proved to be a great success, but he still respected the knowledge that the three original Starbucks owners have. Furthermore, despite its limited expansion, Starbucks had a positive presence on the Seattle community. So in 1987, after Howard’s success with its own coffee chain, he bought Starbucks from the three owners. From then on, the expansion of Starbucks grew at an exponential rate, creating the legend of Starbucks and another successful entrepreneur story.

Information Value versus Opportunity
Earlier in the paper, it stated that scarce information is valuable and any information of value is usually turned into great economic wealth. The person that can process and turn it into wealth is an entrepreneur, and it is usually the novice that can conduct this act because of its ability to identify opportunity, as well as its willingness to take risk. The three original Starbucks owners had access to valuable information in regards to coffee making, but they fail to fully realize the potential of selling high quality coffee to the public. They partially realize the economic value by selling equipment and raw green coffee beans to the public. Howard Schultz believed selling coffee on the go would be more effective and realize the opportunity in the coffee business.
Conservatism: Howard’s brilliant idea

Before Starbucks was introduced, there has been multiple coffee chains in Europe in which coffee are freshly roasted and brewed from the store. The problem with this was expansion. Expansion of stores would be slow and tedious because roasting machines are quite expensive to implement. Furthermore, the roasting process is the most important steps in coffee making so additional cost is needed to skillfully train the worker to roast the coffee. Conservatism has put a constraint in most coffee franchises in this regard. They realize that it is hard to expand due to roasting machine costs and training. Howard Schultz is less reluctant to accept this fact and continues to seek answers to this problem. Finally, he realizes that if roasted coffee beans are immediately stored in a compressed bag, the roasted coffee beans would not oxidize, hence retaining the flavor. Furthermore, he decided to mass roast coffee beans to cut cost, creating economies of scale. His plan was to mass produce in an area and compress the roasted beans in the bag; therefore it cuts the cost to both roast machine and training costs of workers.

Entropy of the Economic System
In thermodynamics, the economy system is view as entropy. It is a dynamic system in which particles flow. The system is constantly dynamic since there is always constant entropy that enters the system, creating shockwave effect in the entire system. In the case of Starbucks, the introduction of coffee creates entropy in the system which positively affects the economy. From appendix, we see the growth in the coffee production market from 1995 and 2000. Starbucks, during that time, has experience exponential growth and continues to grow at this rate. Although there is not concrete evidence that shows Starbucks is the main reason for the coffee boom, it certainly encourages it. Because of the recent globalization trends such as reduction in trade barrier, this could be a major factor in the increased coffee production due to friendly trading environment.

In conclusion, the paper suggests that it is typically the novice that becomes the entrepreneur. Starbucks provides us with a good example that experts, if anything, are less likely to become entrepreneur. Information is somewhat related to the creation of entrepreneur, but it is not the root. The root for the creation of entrepreneurship is identification of opportunity in light of the information. Coffee making has been known for centuries but it isn’t until 1982 when someone had the ambition to turn it into a global lifestyle. Experts are content with what they learn and they will live a stable life. Novice always seeks new information and adapt to changing environment. It is entrepreneurs like Bill Gates who refuses to live the conventional white collar life style. It is those people that make our lives more efficient as an economy. Entrepreneurship is positive entropy that keeps the economy dynamic and growing.

Work Citations
1. http://www.coffeeresearch.org/market/production.htm

2. Jing Chen. The Physical Foundation of Economics: an analytical thermodynamic theory. World Scientific, 2005

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starbucks


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