Jason Weimer: More than just a coffee aficionado
Recent MBA graduate Jason Weimer might live in Bangkok but he has his sights set on the global expansion of his well-established coffee company
At 48 Jason Weimer says that he still has a lot to accomplish before retiring one day, maintaining that you certainly can teach an old dog new tricks.
“I won’t be the first, nor the last mature student to grace the virtual halls of Nexford” he says. “If it’s not happening already, there will definitely be a wave of people like myself who may be looking to extend their studies. Lifetime learning is here to stay, and those that don’t wake up to that soon will be rapidly left behind.”
A solid business grounding
Although he is in the coffee business now, Jason hasn’t always been a slave to the bean. Far from it. After securing his undergraduate degree in graphic design back in 1995, he took the unusual decision to minor in Business Administration. A move that had his graphic design professor scratching his head but would later prove to serve Jason well.
But with everything that he sets his hand to, Jason had a long-term plan.
He wanted to see the commercial side of design. So, in 1995, he graduated with a graphic design and business admin degree. He didn’t want to limit his horizons and be pigeonholed into doing graphic design forever.
Jason’s first soiree into the business world came in the form of working for a printing company in north-central Indiana, a move that would give him a solid grounding in dealing with customers, project management, and ensuring that things went out correctly and on time. Unwittingly, this exposure to the company’s business affairs was preparing him for later career moves.
“I worked for several family-owned firms in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana,” Jason says. “Working for ad agencies I felt gave me the kind of a breadth of knowledge of different industries and how they operate. An understanding that proved vital as I began to broaden my horizons. Okay so we didn’t have a beverage client, but I got a deep understanding of what makes many industries tick and what drives their business success.”
To MFA or MBA? That is the question!
Although he chose to study an MBA with Nexford, Jason had his foot well in the camp of possibly doing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in design. But there was a major obstacle. The cost.
“I wanted to do an MFA, but I kept running into costs of around $35,000-$55,000, and there were only a few programs that were 100% online. So, then I thought okay how about an MBA? That was $16,000 for the least expensive one, and online! That was never going to fly. I didn’t want to go into debt in my late forties. So, I thought, where to next?”
Jason was about to give up on his dream of pursuing a master’s degree and considered taking a few certificate courses. One day when he was online, he discovered that an online MBA with Nexford was the way to go as it was more convenient and way more affordable than a traditional university degree. But it was not just cost that swayed him to enroll. He felt that Nexford looked modern and reputable as well, so, after researching Nexford’s skills-based learning model and eliciting his wife’s professional advice, who is an educator herself, Jason enrolled.
Choosing skills-based MBA modules over theory
“My wife remarked that it was cutting edge stuff,” says Jason. She said, “this is how students want to learn instead of having to attend loads of 30-minute lectures and then having to sit in an exam environment regurgitating stuff.”
Jason appreciated going through the different modules in each course, discovering how each one built on the other one.
“You’ve got part one, and then you go to part two, and then you have your final project, and you just kind of put those together. When you get to the final project, it’s like, oh, none of this is new, I don’t have to start from scratch. And I loved the fact that I could restructure things and make them even better. Plus, it was so well structured, it all made perfect sense.”
From design to coffee grounds
After Jason moved to Thailand in 2010, he met a fellow expat who was starting a coffee farm, up in the north of Thailand. He was asked by his future business partner if he wanted to try getting into the coffee business and because he loved coffee, he thought why not give it a go. And that is where ‘Simple Coffee’ was born.
Fast forward a decade and Jason is now putting his recently earned Nexford MBA, specializing in Advanced AI, to effective use in his coffee business. But why AI?
He didn’t want his business to suffer from the use of outdated technology strategies. At 48 he realized very quickly that there was a rather large gap between the existing technology that was driving his business and that people don’t really implement anymore, and that which he had to implement so as not to be left behind. It really was a case of adapt or die in an industry that many would regards as saturated.
“An MBA with a specialization in Advanced AI has helped give me a more solid foundation, not only in helping build more sound business practices, but also developing insights into use cases of how to practically apply AI and automation to fit traditional business models,” Jason says. “For example, in my own company’s operations, we record and track our customers’ coffee buying patterns through a cloud-based POS system which also helps keep track of inventory. Collecting sales data through a point-of-sale system is not a new concept in technology. That said, the data science behind how that is stored, how much of it is stored and the decisions that are made based on that data are always evolving and changing, and so is the technology that drives it.”
Jason is using this data to help streamline several different areas within his operations, inventory being one of them. Because he specializes in small-batch roasting, giving customers the coffee they want at the roast level they want and guaranteeing optimal freshness, understanding customer buying patterns and inventory management has become mission critical.
“I thought of where I wanted to be in five years from now” says Jason. “I had hoped I would be equipped with a lot of new skills, maybe new technical skills. I really felt like that was really needed for people in my age bracket. The constant desire to upskill. I needed to gain advanced technical skills that I could apply to my business, but also consult and advise other businesses. Nexford gave me that.”
Looking to the future
So, where to from here for Jason? Well, he seems to be staying put in Thailand. He says that he and his wife have had lots of heart-to-heart conversations about staying or moving on, but they both feel that right now, Thailand is the place for them. The coffee business, including both retail shop outlets, one in Bangkok and one in Hanoi, Vietnam, have thankfully survived throughout Covid, and Jason feels that whether its coffee, design or technology, he is inspired and fuelled to keep moving forward with newfound expertise and skills that his MBA in Advanced AI has given him.
So, who does he look up to or take inspiration from to further his business success?
“Much of my philosophy of design and business has been inspired by the famous Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. His later work focused on communicating modernism and simplicity. Both are important and applicable attributes in design and business. One has to continue to modernize business so that it remains relevant and continues to add value, but also pursue simplicity in everything because things naturally move toward complexity, if not checked. And a more recent visionary, Elon Musk’s pursuit to colonize mars is quite the bold vision. I don’t know him personally, but I feel like he’s the kind of guy that takes the big, big, risks, and so, I feel like having people like that out there can be encouraging for the little guy, and that kind of speaks to me.”
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About the Author
Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.