The Coca-Cola Story - Entrepreneurs Take Note!
Coca-Cola was created in 1886 by the pharmacist Dr Pemberton – that’s me posing with his statue outside the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia.
Pemberton’s creation was a flavored syrup, which was mixed with carbonated water to be sold at soda fountains – the idea was to leverage the recent popularity of soda fountains as a social gathering spot.
A veteran of the American Civil War, Pemberton had been wounded in action and was keen to find an alternative form of pain relief from the Morphine to which he had become somewhat addicted.
His new formula was advertised as being beneficial to ‘highly-strung’ ladies and anyone suffering nervous prostration!
Well, got to sell the benefits of the product, that’s for sure!
Interestingly, for the first year sales were very disappointing, averaging about 9 measures a day at $0.05 each‼️
Would you keep going after a year of trying and essentially failing to launch a successful product?
Compare then to now, with global daily sales of Coke products estimated at 1.9 Billion
Sadly, Pemberton didn’t really understand marketing or advertising and unfortunately died after about 2 years of trying and failing to make this novel drink a profitable success.
(image shows the vault where the ‘secret Coca Cola formula’ is held)
Having Vision and Belief
Before his death, a majority share in the business was sold to Asa G. Candler, a banker and real estate investor.
Candler paid c.$2300 which was certainly a lot of money back then.
Now, who among us would invest so heavily in a
drink simply because we liked the taste?
Would you put your money where your mouth is on something like an unproven and seemingly failing product like Coca-Cola?
Fast forward a few years and Candler (along with some associates to whom he had sold the bottling rights) sold the business in 1919 for $25 Million (cash and stock yields at 7% per year)‼️
That’s a ton of cash back in 1919
Do you have the foresight needed to step well outside your
comfort zone and make a significant investment in a new niche?
Imagine the effort required to make the business a success – in a world without social media or the internet to do a little research?
Imagine the effort to expand the business beyond your own home town and scale-up…
Branding, bottling, marketing, distribution, sales etc….
Turning Point For Success
Candler’s approach is a great example of the need for making quick decisions, taking prompt action, being persistent and a having a willingness to pay the price – to do whatever it takes to be a successful entrepreneur….
…all underpinned by an unquestionable belief in the product and its many benefits.
How often do you see people promoting products online that they don’t even own – simply to try and make a quick commission?
As a rule, I never recommend any product unless I own and use it.
Candler was innovative, employing traveling sales reps who were equipped with coupons to give away in the Soda Fountains for a free Coke (a new idea) – try it, like it and hopefully buy it!
I think you could call that a lead-magnet; give them something of value for free..in this case a little taste of the product.
I love this example and the great idea to convert leads (targeted warm traffic in the Soda Fountains) into customers and ultimately ‘raving’ fans of the product
Building customer loyalty…and no doubt a little viral effect along the way.
All too often we take a short term view of our progress and success…’instant gratification’ (results) is what many of us have come to expect through having unrealistic expectations – often fueled by much of the ‘hype’ that we see online.
Often the lessons from history can help inspire and remind us what it really takes to make a difference
Something to think about if you have a Coke anytime soon – a little bit of history in your hands!
PS. I love to work with like-minded and serious entrepreneurs. You can get in touch with me here: