For the first year after inventing an ice coffee concoction for retail sale, John Wright and partner Jeff Hooker delivered their bottled Starbucks competitor from Suburban SUVs to local retailers who signed on to sell it.
The first to agree to sell Ice Coffee was Alan Kidd, the owner of Cowboy's convenience store at Lee Branch. Wright said after that, local support built until Barber Cos. agreed to serve as their distributor. Ice Coffee is now sold in grocery stores throughout Alabama and down the Florida panhandle, including at Western Supermarkets, Piggly Wiggly and now Winn Dixie.
"We were blessed to have that exposure in the Birmingham market or we wouldn't be here," said Wright, who serves as president and CEO.
Ice Coffee Co. LLC is one of 15 Birmingham startups being recognized for their trailblazing efforts toward success in the Birmingham Business Journal's 2014 Entrepreneur Spotlight Awards. Read more about Ice Coffee and the 14 other honorees on Pages 13-20.
Most startups encounter similar hurdles when getting off the ground, and many of the 15 Spotlight winners surveyed said they rely heavily on the support of Birmingham's business community and resources like Innovation Depot, Birmingham Business Alliance and Alabama Launchpad to get started, funded and mentored.