Brandon Buttrey has worked in a variety of capacities over the year: nurses’ aid after high school; Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman in the Navy; personal security detail for LTG Walt Gaskin; oil and gas businessman and medical trainer but his latest pursuit follows passion: coffee.
Many people think that entrepreneurs have an “aha moment” where their one-of-a-kind idea comes to life and then they singularly and relentlessly pursue it to success or down to failure.
The reality is that entrepreneurship is often a wandering journey. Brandon Buttrey and the story behind Counter Strike Coffee is an excellent example of that journey and why veterans are a great fit in the local, small business landscape.
Brandon grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and enlisted in the Navy just days before September 11th, 2001. Already working as a nurses’ aid in a local hospital after high school, Brandon said that he was spinning his wheels at home and “destined to do greater things. Enlisting in the service was that greater purpose.”
Brandon served as a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman, eventually leaving the Navy in 2011 as a Petty Officer 2nd Class. Brandon entered the oil and gas industry after discharge, working in Houston and making Texas his home.
Not long after discharge, one of Brandon’s Marine Corps friends purchased a medical kit from an outdoors shop and asked Brandon to teach him how to use it. In true military fashion, Brandon put together a PowerPoint for him to teach him how to use it. The Marine vet loved the PowerPoint session (with no small thanks to the barbecue occurring in parallel) and spread the word with his friends. Soon, Brandon was providing training for many others who had purchased "off the shelf" medical kits.
Brandon’s entrepenurial fire was stoked but the coffee jar at his trainings really poured gasoline on his start-up ambitions.
Brandon had been setting up a “coffee mess” at each of the gatherings. Basically, a coffee mess is the stocked coffee bar where people could grab a cup prior to, or during, training sessions. Brandon noticed at the end of each session that a) the coffee was always gone and b) there was always significantly more money in the donation jar than the coffee cost to purchase. That was the moment that Brandon’s entrepreneurial journey took a turn from medical training to coffee company start-up leader.
“In the service, you need coffee before, during, and after training. There is always coffee around. Even in the field there is a coffee stand somewhere. Even if it is 2 or 3 kilometers away in the middle of the woods, there will be people there. There is always a demand and a need for coffee.” Brandon found that the same principle applied to the civilian sector. One did not need to look further than the coffee donation jar to prove it.
Success isn’t found overnight though and it certainly isn't found alone. Brandon has mentors and speaks with others regularly about strategy. One of the biggest lessons learned from his vetrepreneur peers is the critical analysis of angel investments and venture capital that may be required to grow Counter Strike Coffee. “You need to interview them to make sure you will get what you need for support rather than beg for just ‘any money,’” he said.
And capital is a focus for him in this growth phase. Counter Strike Coffee’s reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Brandon has represented Counter Strike Coffee throughout local media in Texas and will also be attending Shot Show in Las Vegas and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah where he will be serving his coffee. What started out as 3 roasts of coffee has now blossomed into needs for a warehouse, more roasters, kcup line, distributor agreements and coffee merchandise.
The vetrepreneurial journey is just getting started for Counter Strike Coffee and Contact eCommerce is proud to play a part in their continued success. Buy now; 25% off throughout the month of January!
Rapid Fire Q&A
Contact: What is your favorite MRE?
Brandon: Bro! It has to be the jalepeno cheese spread! That can go on anything!
*Courtesy of Amazon. Doesn't it look delicious?!
Contact: What is your favorite weapon or weapons system/vehicle?
Brandon: M1017 Shotgun for sure
Contact: What is your favorite piece of standard issue gear?
Brandon: Big fleece Buffalo Jacket and skull cap fleece beanie
Contact: What is your favorite piece of “cool-guy” gear?
Brandon: One point sling with the bungee. Had the hooks and you could push it and it could go around your rifle and I would d-ring it to the chest rig. Weapon was always “in my workspace.”