To Amora With Love: Coffee Entrepreneur Wakes Up To Smell Success
It’s a good thing Marina DiDomenico is in the coffee business. Because she drinks 8 to 10 cups a day. Real coffee. No decaf.
The co-founder of Amora, a subscription-based premium coffee direct to consumers delivery company, spent almost 30 years in the food product business before launching the brand in 2011 with her husband, Jim Fosina.
And for the record, the name of the company is “aroma” spelled backwards. It also happens to be love in Italian, and that DiDomenico is.
After graduating from Pace University in New York in 1991 with a degree in accounting, she got her CPA and “quickly decided she didn’t want to do public accounting.” Instead, she switched to corporate work and began working at General Foods, that later became Kraft Foods staying there until 1998 working out of Chicago headquarters.
“It was one of the best experiences,” DiDomenico says.
She and Fosina, CEO of Fosina Marketing Group, married and moved to New York, where she continued working for Kraft. After her first of four children were born, DiDimenico wanted to try a different path and went into real estate.
In 2005, she started her own real estate firm, “when the market was great.”
Soon after she went to work at Fosina as chief information officer, and starting working on the idea for a subscription coffee business.
“We started to notice a void in the marketplace,” DiDomenico says. “Consumers have no problem walking into a Starbucks multiple times a day because its an experience. So how can you have that same experience in our homes?”
Thinking you should be able to get fresh, peak quality coffee delivered directly to your house, DiDomenico says Amora launched and now has “several hundreds of thousands of customers” who subscribe weekly, biweekly, monthly or how ever frequently you want, for coffee roasted in Knoxville, Tenn. The cost is $30 per pound.
“We get beans from all over the world, but now only ship within the U.S.,” she says.
Because she is a coffee lover, and had decades of experience in the consumer food product business she says this business was easy for her. And so many people love and need their coffee.
“It’s almost a necessity item,” DiDomenico says. “It’s like buying paper towels.” She adds, “We want to create something that people feel passionate about.”
Customers are slightly more female than male, and while seven years ago the demographic was 45-55 years old, the customers are now skewing younger as well. She thinks it is the convenience and that a generation of consumers likes to click, buy and receive products they don’t go out to shop for.
DiDomenico, whose children are now 18-23 years old, says she is always working on setting a good example, not just for her own children, but for other entrepreneurs, particularly women.
“We have a rule here, they each are allowed to do one summer internship here, but they have to get a job somewhere else. They have to have their own experience outside the family business.”
According to a new report from SCORE on 20,000 entrepreneurs, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” found that 47 percent of female respondents started businesses within the last year, compared to 44 percent of male respondents.
Women are not quite at parity, but close.
“Women-owned businesses currently make up 39 percent of the 28 million small businesses operating across the United States, and this rate continues to rise. The U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of women-owned businesses increased by 45 percent from 2007 to 2016, a rate five times faster than the national average. Despite this dramatically rapid growth, research continues to show significant gaps between women including men-owned businesses in several key areas including financing, revenue and hiring practices,” the report shows.
“Women-owned businesses employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenues; however, they account for only 4 percent of the nation’s business revenues – a share that has remained steady for 20 years.”
Annie Pilon writes in Small Business Trends about the report that women are more positive, starting businesses in healthcare and education and more. As 57 percent of women expect revenue growth in 2018, “this suggests that women owned businesses are just about as likely to grow as male owned businesses, in which 59 percent said they expect revenue growth,” Pilon reports.
Here is DiDomenico’s advice to anyone intending to launch an idea into a business.
It’s important to know what you don’t know. I was fortunate because I have financial expertise but you have to find somebody you can trust. You have to plan and strategize because the investment goes fast.”
You have to have people you trust on your team. “It’s impossible to do everything yourself very day you have to have a good team.
You need to be excited to go to work. “If you have an idea, especially as a woman, you have to fight harder. We are time impoverished. You take 8-12 hours out of your day, you better love what you’re doing.”
As for expansion and next steps, DiDomenico says she is working on launching a tea line, that has turned out to be more challenging than expected. “We’re looking at different products and doing a lot of thinking of more creative ways to brew coffee at home.”
And she will definitely drink—a cup of coffee—to that.