Creator of Coffee Feed Giovanni Fillari
Creator of Coffee Feed Giovanni Fillari
Gabriel Flores 0:00
All right, Giovanni, Ferrari, I liked that name. Man. That is nice. The owner of coffee feed. I'm really excited about this one because this is a very, very, very unique platform, what you're doing and kind of the curation of it. But first, let's introduce the world who is geo,
Giovanni Fillari 0:19
who is geo? Well, first of all,
thanks for having Thank you.
I'm very glad to be here. So yeah, so who's geo geo is a guy from San Francisco, California, who grew up during the hyphy movement.
I wanted the dreads and it did not come in for me though. I'm bald.
But not so I grew up in San Francisco, bounced around a lot. We live in Sicily, when I was a kid used to live in San Antonio, Texas. moved back to Berkeley, California, then, for the most part, lived in San Francisco. Went to an all boys private high school. Then moved on to Bowling Green State University played some football out there majored in telecommunications. You know, it was just a young guy trying to figure out my role in this world, you know, and I just did a lot of moving did a lot of traveling and being in Portland is about 2015.
Gabriel Flores 1:16
So So you said you lived in Sicily? Yeah. So
Giovanni Fillari 1:19
my dad is a Cillian. Wow.
Gabriel Flores 1:21
So how long have you lived there?
Giovanni Fillari 1:23
Briefly, probably, like a few months, maybe like a year or so. Okay, but it was so brief. I was speaking Italians. Oh, wow. No, that's awesome. was bilingual for a little. It's all gone now. Oh, hey, let's have this conversation in Italian.
Gabriel Flores 1:39
That's good, because I don't know Italian either. Of Us. Well, so. You know, you mentioned you actually went to Bowling Green. Let's let's talk about that.
Giovanni Fillari 1:50
Yep. So I played two years of football in college. I'm sorry, I'm say two years of football in high school. And I really wanted to play football. I really wanted to go to the NFL. That was my dream. Football is my favorite sport in the world. But I broke my leg twice in high school. Yeah, it was my freshman year. My sophomore year broke it twice. So same leg. Same leg. Same. It's actually my shin. Oh, ouch.
Gabriel Flores 2:17
Yeah, that's that's a really hard bone to break. It is like what is
Giovanni Fillari 2:23
wise? Yeah, so you banger shin on a coffee table or like, a ledge. And that hurts when you try breaking.
Gabriel Flores 2:31
My leg just started hurting.
Giovanni Fillari 2:33
Every time it gets cold, like it's Oh, yeah, yeah, it's still there. So I did break it twice. And I only played two years of high school football. So I was looking to go somewhere to where I can walk on that's not like a powerhouse D one school because you know, and they can get anybody that they want. So a friend of the family knew one of the coaches at Bowling Green State University. And I send my film and they're like, hey, like, you can come you know, be a preferred walk on. He can, you know, join the team. And then he will be obviously a backup. You can try to earn a scholarship, you know, a little bit down the road, but we don't have any scholarships available. So I'm calling out. So I left San Francisco in August 2005. To move to Bowling Green, Ohio, which is about an hour south of Detroit. And I started going to school up there playing football. Just trying to make it happen.
Gabriel Flores 3:29
Yeah. So let's, let's talk about coffee feet. I kind of want to talk about it. And then I want to talk about how the creation happened. Yeah, right. So let's let's talk about first, let's give the audience a little bit what is coffee feed.
Giovanni Fillari 3:41
So a coffee feed is a digital platform where I essentially focus on Portland coffee shops, or just any local coffee shops in the current city that I'm in. So I created it back in 2017. And I did it while I was actually unemployed. So I moved up here in Portland to take a contract at Nike, as a social media specialist. And my contract finished and I was like, okay, like, what do I do now? Like, I still do I still want to live here. Do I want to work here? I'm going back to San Francisco or what do I do? I ended up wanting to stay up here wanting to stay at Nike. But I had a lot of free time on my hands. I was applying for jobs. I was just trying to just figure it out. And I started figuring it out at coffee shops. So I was applying for jobs. I was fixing on my resume. I just needed to get out of the house at the end of the day. Yeah, yeah, it was. It was just, you know, I mean, like, you're kind of getting your head at that moment. You're like, all right, like, I'm qualified, like, I'm bad. I'm like, in my late 20s. So I've experienced like, I'm just struggling finding work. It was towards the end of 2016 where this was going on, so I'm like alright, I can't get myself I can't get down on myself. So I needed to kind of keep myself busy. I was in I was in a bunch of coffee shops. I would is, and barista, and sisters coffee, those are the two coffee shops I was in the most. And I'm like, okay, like, these are the coffee shops that I like, what else is out there? Like what other coffee shops are around? Is there? Is there an Instagram account or any social media account that kind of profiles them, there wasn't something like, I'd be kind of cool. If someone made that account. I was like, Well, I can do that I have all the free time in the world now. So I created coffee feed ministry just for coffee shop purposes. And just taking pictures of coffee shops, like the interior latte, art, so on and so forth. But as I started going the first couple months, I kind of figured out that this would be a really good way to leverage social media to show marketing skills. So I wanted to show that I can create digital assets, I wanted to show that I know how to do storytelling, I wanted to create a community. I wanted to do all those things that are like, you know, some basic marketing principles that allows people to have like some sort of affinity and pride towards Portland coffee shops, that creates a cadence of having people coming and seeing what new shops are out there, coffee events, and so on, so forth.
Gabriel Flores 6:13
So you're almost kind of created like a digital resume.
Giovanni Fillari 6:18
Exactly. Right. Exactly. It was a digital resume. That's exactly what it was. It was showing that I could do brand marketing things similar to what Nike was doing just on a severely smaller scale. So that's all that was, and it was something that I 1,000,000% brought to my interview, but yeah, show samples of it. How we can create a call to action from Hey, like, going through digital, talking about an event. Like I remember we did a fundraiser for relief efforts in Puerto Rico with a hurricane out there, right? Yeah, yep. So me and a couple friends of mine, Ian from deadstock. Coffee. Erica from Cafe Reina we hosted at her shop, we had a karaoke party, and I see raise funds, and we raised like, almost $1,000
Gabriel Flores 7:09
Wow. Wow. That's a that's nice. Now, how do you So you did this, right. You created an app? How do you generate new ideas?
Giovanni Fillari 7:20
That's a great question. I think I think a lot of it comes down to here's the thing, so it is so easy to like, get in your head about these kinds of things. Like anything creative or trying to be innovative because you're like, Nah, can't do that. It's wack. Like, I think just paying attention to the trends that's going on like, okay, like for example, I say Tik Tok, for example, right? So, like, I definitely at first was like, I'm not hopping on Tik Tok. What am I doing? I am my
Gabriel Flores 7:55
wife is trying to get me on Tik Tok. So bad I do and I do in this dance format. COVID.
Giovanni Fillari 8:00
Like, I didn't do that. But what it is showing me, I think what it showed me is that very often, like, there are people who just do things because they like, they think it's a good idea. And they like it. And I think I had to get to the point of where it doesn't have to be perfect to post it doesn't have to be a perfect plan. It doesn't have to be anything that is like well thought out. 100% It just got to be something that I think is dope or something that's cool. Whether it's I don't know, like talking about latte art or talking about shops that are open, like I may not have the complete list of what shops are open on like Christmas or Thanksgiving. But you know, at least putting the majority of it out there. We get a conversation started.
Gabriel Flores 8:48
Right. In fact, you know, I think it's important to for the folks at home to understand like, let's let's talk about how big and kind of the draw where where is coffee feed at and where did you kind of looking back on it? Was that like pivotal moment where you're like, Whoa, this is this is something?
Giovanni Fillari 9:04
Yeah, so from where it started, how I didn't know anybody in the coffee industry. I didn't know any baristas said like now like, almost like, like 8000 10,000 followers on the gram and decent amount on Twitter and Tik Tok. I think the moment where I saw things kind of turned was when I got invited to a Specialty Coffee Association, Expo. That was usually six $700 for a ticket or like for a pass and I got free media credentials for it. So that was probably like the first time that I was like, okay, cool. Like, let me submit coffee feed as a part of the media. And they're like, yeah, come on out. Just use this pass, and then you'd be fine. He's free for the few days that you're here. And I was like, that's pretty dope, because I think that's like, kind of like the start. And then the name recognition when I was around. They're like, Oh, yeah, I've seen you on the gram or I've seen you do Like on social media, you did some work with sprach, which is a media organization, a coffee media organization that I work with, wrote, I've written a few articles about them. And there's some Instagram takeovers for them as well. So I think it was the moment where I was able to get media credentials for Expo events, and then also had the opportunity to monetize coffee knowledge.
Gabriel Flores 10:23
Nice, nice because that's something you said you were a barista at first. Correct. You've done never working on. I've never worked in coffee. So it was just you're just, you know, affinity for going to these locations kind of created this
Giovanni Fillari 10:36
like for it. Yeah. So okay, so let's take it back a little bit. So my dad, Sicilian man, moved to the States when he was like 20 Something, loved his espresso at the Moka. Pot guy, right? He's like, Giovanni made a couple shots of espresso like, like, constantly, right? So I'm like, Alright, so I'm like, 1011 12 years old, you know, making his espresso so he get his little double shot and then go on to work. I'd maybe make a little bit extra. Maybe I'll take a little sip. But it was very customary just in our family, just for everyone to drink espresso, right. I mean, eventually, like, you know, as we got older, it's like, Nah, it's not really my thing. Or like, No, I love espresso. So I never stopped liking coffee. after that. I went, I went to Starbucks all the time growing up. There was a Starbucks right next to my bus stop in high school. So I ended up. Okay, so let's go. Do I have the hugest crush on the barista?
Gabriel Flores 11:34
So the truth comes? When did you like there's just one barista that always starts with the girl man.
Giovanni Fillari 11:43
So, um, okay, so like, I would make espresso for my dad. And that was true, like I and I would drink espresso as a kid, and you know, as a young teenager, but there's this one girl that worked at this Starbucks. That was right. So my bus stop, and I liked her. She was so cool. She's in college. You know, she went to the University of San Francisco. So it was like, we're just like a block away from where we lived, growing up, and then you know where the Starbucks was. And she was super nice and super friendly. And me. Just being completely naive. I'm like, Oh, she just, you know, she likes me, right? She remembers my name. And she's like, wrote on the cup. She yelled it out and smiled when my mocha frappuccino was ready. And I'm like, this is this this? This is just how I like me. Oh, I liked it. This is love. I listen. This is this is it? Like I'm gonna Oh, yeah. And her for the rest of my life. Right. So I just didn't realize that that's just great customers. The building of a brand affinity on the on behalf of Starbucks. Long story short, she. I saw her on her off day in that Starbucks. Oh my god, hey, what she's doing here and she was like, cut it up with her boyfriend. Oh, I was. I was shook. My heart was broken. But I still have the cop and I still, you know what,
Gabriel Flores 13:14
like, coffee and gonna break me like that.
Giovanni Fillari 13:18
Never let me down. Never, never, never not. But like, yeah, mocha frappuccinos didn't taste the same for a while.
Gabriel Flores 13:23
That is amazing. So so how did you then leverage coffee feet? Because you eventually you're now at Nike. Right? So you DO RE landed a position at Nike. So how did you leverage for the folks at home? I think that's a great learning point. How did you leverage that? To get the job?
Giovanni Fillari 13:40
Great question. So I use so my first stint at Nike was from June of 2015, to September 2016. And I learned a lot about social media stuff. And just basic like digital things that Nokia was doing. I was listening into marketing meetings and you know, digital brand meetings, and so on and so forth. I took what I knew at the moment and just kind of applied it to coffee feed, and then vice versa. So I would also find learnings through coffee feed and then apply it to some of the things that I would see through social media when I would get my eventually getting my second contract at Nike. So my second contract with Nike was still in consumer services from February 2017 until May of 2018. And I leverage coffee fee to first and foremost just gain confidence in knowing what I'm doing, like growing something from the ground up, and does have the opportunity to use a platform to store retail as really what do we do a lot at Nike through the brand marketing side. So just recently working with the NFL and the girls like football initiative or working with Florida a&m University and LeBron James. Like, at the end of the day, it is still the concept of storytelling through a digital platform that the masses can easily digest. Yeah, so I was doing that just on a smaller risk. out through coffee feed, I was taking pictures, I was telling stories about baristas of color. I was telling stories about owners just deep dive on these coffee shops that would essentially bridge the gap between people who are really into the coffee industry, and then those who are really much into coffee at all.
Gabriel Flores 15:21
Yeah, was there ever a moment like when you started coffee feed, and you're kind of going through that process of like, self doubt, and like, Man, I'm wasting my time. What am I doing all the time, really,
Giovanni Fillari 15:30
literally, like, I have self doubt. I have self doubt, constantly. Like, man, like, I'm kind of stuck on this, that seems like I'm stuck at this follower count or whatever, like, or I'm stuck. I feel like my grid is looking the same and hit has for like the last two years, or I'd haven't had anything really original or pop off. And like the last like six to eight months, like, there's a lot of self doubt, things move so fast. And social media can get really dangerous for a lot of people because it can make you believe that you're behind the curve, in a lot of things on social media makes you feel that you are behind, you're behind the curve. Everyone's doing better than you. People just really good at really showing the best side of themselves. So they're not really showing the downfalls. They're not showing the bad days, they're not showing, you know what I mean? Unless it's like something that they do. But social media can be a really dangerous place. So there's also like something for myself that I'm like, you know, this other coffee accounts that are blowing up, or they're like other people who are showing different sides of coffee shops that I may have not seen before, like, and I doubt myself, not every every day, but like, there's some times where I'm like, man, like Yeah, what could I be doing?
Gabriel Flores 16:48
Yeah, yeah. So like, you know, for the folks at home, cuz I think this is bringing this important subject, you know, social media, and I think your, your expertise in it. Everybody thinks there's the golden ticket to, you know, fame, right on social media, is their golden ticket to fame. How do I get the 100,000 followers? I want? I want a million people listening to this podcast, right? And how do I do it? Yeah,
Giovanni Fillari 17:09
so the golden ticket is time and consistency. I mean, or just having an unlimited amount of resources of some sort, whether it's like, money, so you can buy followers or? I mean, like, unless it's like something like really niche, or if you have a very popular friend group, or what have you, I think it's, um, I think what happens on social media is that we often see stories about people going viral. And then from there, they get the opportunity to have a larger platform, which is supported by larger companies. And it's not always like that. I think, just from the Nike side, obviously, we work a lot with athletes, and they spend hundreds of 1000s of dollars on making themselves a tip top shape. We work with organizations and clubs that, you know, that are large brands themselves. And I think that with social media, the draws that people want to people want to be instant stars, they've seen examples of it. And but at the end of the day, people are they will viral stars for a reason, just because they kind of fizzle out and they don't maintain consistency for a long extended period of time.
Gabriel Flores 18:24
Yeah, what advice would you have for those, you know, those young individuals or even older individuals that, you know, for better or worse, are looking for that clout? Right on the social media? What advice would you have for them,
Giovanni Fillari 18:36
stay authentic, because I think with clout people lose authenticity really quickly. So if it's, you know, someone doing random stuff on Tik Tok, or people going above and beyond to put the best photo on the gram, like, I think authenticity goes the long way, goes a very long way. And I think when you think of clout, a lot of time it goes hand in hand with a lack of authenticity, or it goes hand in hand with people just not really being true to themselves, or just not really just being not just, you know what I mean? Like not aligning themselves with society, I guess. Because at the end of the day, when people are chasing clout, they're chasing fame, they're chasing something that they don't have, and they're willing to do what they need to do to get themselves to that next step. It's like, I mean, this is it's kind of like, you know, the kid from Joe a bear, right? Like he was chasing clout, like he wanted to be like, the best reseller in the world. So, you know, like, and you know, that people want people want to be, people just wanna be famous, and they see it all the time. Yeah.
Gabriel Flores 19:46
Yeah, definitely. Now what what, like, what would you say? Is is it just as easy as somebody to kind of go like, for example, starting coffee feed? Was it just as easy as literally going and starting a social media account and begin post seemed and in that, you know, for the folks at home that maybe aren't familiar with social media, what. And you also mentioned, one of the things you did to kind of help boost your kind of brand was doing the media piece, right? What other avenues besides a social media? Could individuals at home thinking about to kind of help exploit that social media brand?
Giovanni Fillari 20:26
Repeat that question. Yeah.
Gabriel Flores 20:28
So think about like, for example, you mentioned earlier that you are, you did the media thing, right. So you basically put coffee feed feed as immediate entity? Is there other things that you've done to kind of help grow coffee feed and kind of like other channels?
Giovanni Fillari 20:45
Yes. So just going out in person, for one is something that I did like actually meeting people in real life, obviously, COVID doesn't really make gives us give us the opportunity to do that this moment. But going out in real life, did writing work back with non traditional companies, I guess I Portland monthly, for example, nice to work with them. And you featured in their article. I think aside from like, primarily, I do a lot of my stuff through social media, but at the end of the day, of just going out and dapping up people at coffee shops and saying what's up just the word of mouth, like in talking to like minded people?
Gabriel Flores 21:28
How important is your network when you're growing your brand?
Giovanni Fillari 21:31
It's pretty important. But it's also our like, your network is also a reflection of you too. So I think a lot of people really don't understand that. When they think like network, they're like, Oh, you're your network is your net worth like, so it must hasn't be like, huge. I need to grow bigger, far as wide as I can. But in the day, your network is a reflection of you. They say that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most
Gabriel Flores 21:56
Yes, I've been talking about that on this podcast, actually quite a bit.
Giovanni Fillari 22:00
Exactly. So and it is very true, like who you run with and who you talk to all that talk to all the time, you're going to, you're going to bounce things off each other, you're going to feed off each other, you're going to reflect each other's values and thoughts all the time. So if your network is suspect, or if your network is inconsistent, then you have a high likelihood of being inconsistent as well.
Gabriel Flores 22:23
Yeah, yeah, it makes sense. You know, it's the, you know, kind of improving the averages, right? For the average. And now, what would you say is the kind of the hardest part about running? Because you you work full time? Yeah. Right. And now you have you have coffee feed, which, which is pretty successful. Now, what would you say is the difficulty of it,
Giovanni Fillari 22:41
the difficulty of it would be time management, and getting in those moments where I don't feel like I have to do something, or I feel like I have to do something, I think there's some times where I'm just tired, right? Like, there are some products that I'm landing full time at work, I may not be able to hit a coffee shop before the close. And sometimes I just don't want to leave the house. Or sometimes I just don't feel like editing a photo, I don't feel like throwing up, you know, Adobe Lightroom and getting it done. But at the end of the day, I think just making sure that I create boundaries, that allows me to rest that allows me to get in a better mental health space. Because when I get anxious, or when I get into a mode where I don't think I can do everything. I just don't do anything at that point. I just kind of sit there and just wallow around like alright, what's what do I do next? I just have to remind myself that, you know, I may not be able to do everything, but I can do something at some point.
Gabriel Flores 23:39
Yeah, yeah. So looking back on everything, you know, taken all the way back to Sicily. Yeah. What advice would you give a younger Geo?
Giovanni Fillari 23:51
I don't have to have all the answers figured out to continue to move forward. When I look back at my journey specifically from high school up until now. I think that a lot of people really feel like they have to get a job in a major that they want that they majored in or they took classes in. I think that like they have to get a five on a high five, you know, six figure job immediately out of college so they can start paying student loan debt so they can make their time in college worth it. I think people feel like they have to love their job immediately. I think people feel like they have to get a job that they can settle in for years and you know, get the family with the white picket fence and all that stuff. I went to this random school that was on my radar. In my junior year in high school. I walked onto a football team. I spent five years at college. I majored in telecommunications and I did radio but I didn't do anything telecommunications related after I graduated college I got into sales. I was doing 100% commission sales for four years after I graduated college because that's all I can get when I was done. I didn't have the time to intern as much because I was playing college football, and they have our card a lot of our time and it was in Bowling Green, Ohio, there wasn't really anything for us to really intern at. And digital internships weren't really a thing back then. So I graduated from college, I take a job, I kind of just settle into it, because this is like, alright, well, this is my life. Now. I was learning the difference between being a collegiate athlete and just being thrust into the real world. And I had no idea what I was doing. And I just knew that I was severely unhappy with my job. And I wasn't making as much money because I was working 100% commission sales. So I think a lot of people think they have to, like know everything and like just be on point. But for me, it took me hitting like rock bottom, and hating everything for it to really crystallized what I wanted to do. So from there, I quit sales jobs, and I just moved back home and I was like, Alright, let me start coaching or something. So I can, you know, just get back to football, mainly sports, but like mainly just helping people. And then from there, I applied for a Nike job, and didn't hear back from him until four months later. And they're like, Yo, you apply for this job. It's taken up, but there's another job that might be ready for them that you might be better fit for. So let's chat. I moved up six weeks later.
Gabriel Flores 26:31
Nice. So looking back, it was like,
Giovanni Fillari 26:34
looking back, looking back it was the journey was worth it. But I just think that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to always have the answers and to always like, like, tell ourselves that we're happy with our current situation. I just once I recognized that I wasn't happy with my current situation. And I wasn't like trying to like please other people. It was it. It started turning around.
Gabriel Flores 26:55
Would you do it again? Would you do all again?
Giovanni Fillari 26:58
You've to do what I'm doing now? Absolutely. Yeah, I would. You
Gabriel Flores 27:02
know, you know, I gotta ask you, man. What was what's the best coffee? The best?
Giovanni Fillari 27:08
Like a top five. Can
Gabriel Flores 27:09
we do top five? I don't want you to get in trouble. Yeah.
Giovanni Fillari 27:12
Top five. So deadstock coffee, la Perlita. Good coffee. Barista number five right now. This is interchangeable by the way. Okay. Yeah. So that's good coffee barista.
Will go push, pull coffee,
Gabriel Flores 27:39
push. Cool. Yeah, there you go. Ladies and gentlemen. There's the top five geo said it top five, top five. So do let the folks know at home. How can they kind of get in contact with coffee feed? Where can they find that? Where can they follow you?
Giovanni Fillari 27:52
I think follow me at underscore coffee feed on Instagram, coffee feed PDX on Twitter, and just coffee coffee feed on tick tock also hit me up on LinkedIn if you have any Nike questions or does any coffee questions at Giovanni filari. And then G I F I L L A two is my personal IG.
Gabriel Flores 28:16
Nice Gio filari From Sicily. Thank you again so much for joining me on the shades of entrepreneurship for those at home. Thank you again so much. Thank you and good night.