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Fancy A Cuppa Of Success

Fancy a cuppa of success

“The daily pour in itself is the biggest challenge to a barista because he or she must ensure quality in every cup. Same as in life, when we give our best tackling even routine challenges, we’ll find our cup of success,” say Shane Lee and Diana Chew, young, gungho owners of 6oz Espresso Bar who are in their 20s (picture above)

Sensing the opportunity to serve speciality coffee and gourmet pastries to busy office workers in Singapore’s Central Business District, the pair of SIM-RMIT alumni invested over $100,000 in starting a sleek, modern, 60-seat al fresco coffeehouse even before they graduated.

Rich espresso shots, mocha steaming with aroma, silky latte with symmetrical cloud-white patterns, are daily artisan brews served with pace and passion by a team of baristas led by Shane himself. His partner Diana and bevy of cheerful servers take orders and look after the customers, hunched over their cuppa, laptop screens and handphones.

Learning team work, relationship

“My RMIT degree allowed me to learn how to collaborate with and manage different teams of people of various backgrounds and capabilities. Knowing how to work and deal with people is very important in the working world. SIM Global Education provided me with an all-round education experience that I would never trade anything else for it,” says Shane, who was an SIM Global Education scholar.

An active student leader, he helped found the SIM String Ensemble which performed almost 30 events in two years. He also took on the role of producer in the Film and Performing Arts Society that put up the first-ever student Broadway-style musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” to sell-out success.

It was this same student production where the artistically-inclined Diana played one of the lead roles and met Shane. She has been singing and dancing since five, so taking part in a musical was a natural for her.

When the two found they shared common interests and a strong passion to make things work, they came together to start 6oz Espresso Bar. Being first-time entrepreneurs, there were uncertainties but Shane and Diana complemented and tapped on each other’s strengths to launch the venture.

Diana says, “Juggling work and studies was certainly no walk in the park but it built character. I learnt strong self-discipline and proper time management in order to keep up with projects and assignments while managing a business.”

Innovate, motivate on the job

Acknowledging the rigour of entrepreneurship and how this journey shaped their maturation from student to business owners, Shane and Diana are grateful for life lessons gained every day on the job.

“We understand the importance of staff retention and we’ve created a conducive work environment where staff are motivated through perks such as meal and transport allowances, performance bonuses and incentives, and training to upgrade their skills. Diana and I also developed individual career paths for full-time staff to allow them to see long term in their career and growth potential,” said Shane.

“With intense competition in the F&B industry, we constantly need to review, innovate and improve on our products and services. We travel frequently to observe and learn from tradeshows or conferences, bring in new ideas, improve operational procedures to increase our efficiency. To stay differentiated and unique to our customers, we must never stop learning and improving to keep our competitive advantage.”

Diana adds, “Nothing is as easy as it looks. With so many youngsters these days wanting to be their own boss and to open themed cafes, all of us must be prepared to work even harder than our employees.

“This means working more than 14 hours a day; waking up everyday worrying about operations and bottom-line; social life and family life will be sacrificed; weekends burnt due to catching up on paper work; and even standing in when someone calls in sick.

“At the end of the day, be prepared to be barista, chef, server, cashier, delivery guy, and even cleaner!”

Drop by 6oz Espresso Bar at 20 McCallum Street #01-k1, Tokio Marine Centre, Mon-Fri 7am-6pm. As fellow alumni, you are entitled to a free cookie with every cuppa if you can quote to Shane and Diana, “Life is grad!”

– Published in e-Horizon alumni newsletter and online, March 2013