“Innovation and Strategy: You Can’t Have One without the Other: A Case of Gourmet Coffee and the Bean Machine”

In the early 1980s, I owned the gourmet coffee wholesale company, Jamaican Gourmet Products. This was a business that I started with a friend I met while finishing my dissertation at Yale Graduate School in economics. The coffee business had nothing to do with my research in healthcare economics. But, being in the coffee business was just as addictive as the product we sold. We had a great run in the gourmet coffee business before Starbucks came to town and at a time when there were still independent grocery stores who competed against the large chains. But this is not a story about what could have been with Jamaica Gourmet, which still exist but I no longer own. This is a story of innovation and strategy, and how innovation without a great strategy will lead to failure.

I exited the coffee business because I had an idea based on what I learned after being a gourmet coffee wholesaler/roaster for 15 years. Entrepreneurship starts with an idea. A great idea does not...

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