It was the fall of 2009 and we had just landed in Boston for our first tradeshow to debut Project 7 to the marketplace. We were headed to the exposition hall to build our booth for the very first time and my phone rang. I can remember the conversation like it was yesterday. On the other end of the line was a guy by the name of Patrick Burns. He was from my old stomping grounds in Amarillo Texas and he had heard about Project 7 through some mutual friends telling him about it.
He was the project manager of a coffee shop and bookstore that my old church, Trinity Fellowship was adding to their building. He thought it would be great if they could buy a pallet (80 cases) of our water for the coffee shop as the water they served. I said that is awesome and lets find a way to make it happen when I get back from the tradeshow.
I hung up the phone and was thankful but was already thinking about the tradeshow the next day. I had visions of grandeur, of retailers and distributors around the country getting so excited about our giving brand of products that we’d be taking orders left and right. Fast-forward 3 days when the show was over and here are the cliff notes
We didn’t take one order at that show. That’s right, not one order. We pitched our company and products for 3 days straight from dusk until dawn to everybody that walked by our booth and when the show closed we walked home with no orders.
I’d like to tell you I wasn’t discouraged and that I knew it was just our first show and that we were getting the word out about our company. Instead I was discouraged and wondered if the market would ever respond positively to our idea.
When I got back to Dallas and I was sulking in my sorrows the phone rang again; it was Patrick following up. In my self-pity I had completely lost sight of the fact that I got my first order before the tradeshow had even started. Luckily he’s a good guy to work with that believed in a social business model and the order was placed
Fast forward four years and a lot has changed and since then Patrick became his own entrepreneur along with his wife Krystal and they opened a specialty coffee shop called Palace Coffee in Canyon, Texas. While visiting family in Amarillo for Thanksgiving I got to go by his shop and say hi and snap this picture…. He’s still a Project 7 customer today through his coffee shop and that got me thinking this Thanksgiving Day.
In just a couple of months, Project 7 will cross the 20,000 retailers mark of stores that carry Project 7 products every day across our great nation. There are some pretty well known names in that roster of partners that we are thankful to have but we’ll never forget customer #1.
That little spark of an order helped us get started. It’s through your support at retailers over the years that together we’ve been able to do a lot of good in our 7 areas of need. But it may have never happened if I’d have given up after that first tradeshow and forgotten to take care of that first customer opportunity.
So if you’re out there today and you’re discouraged like I was after our tradeshow, take inventory of the things you may have overlooked; steward them and give thanks. Don’t miss a really great first chapter being written in your story while you’re daydreaming about the sequel. In time. In time.
Happy Thanksgiving Friends of Project 7