Dave Seymours advice on running a business.

@CGCoffee7 via Twitter and Instagram, www.couchgrindcoffee.com

David Seymour, Sale Shark Legend and an adopted northerner, has recently ended his playing days with Sale Sharks. He was the defence guru of the club during his time at the Sharks. If it were the NFL he would be in the special team for his breakdown work. Once he’s on that ball, good luck trying to keep it! His work rate, durability and leadership were of a top class player. Dave captained the club in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, represented England in the U21s in both Six Nations and World Championship and also featured with England 7s in both IRB series and the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where they won a silver medal.

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A trip to Bermuda with the Bermuda Barbarians built a friendship bridge between the two of us. Dave is a simple man! Whiskey, cigars, reading newspapers and having a brew are the things he enjoys. He only switched over to an iPhone a year ago, after having had the same blackberry since they first came out! The season just gone, he and I would call ourselves the pensioners because we were a good 10-15 years older than the boys we played with in the Jets squad.

Dave runs his own coffee business, Couch-Grind-Coffee. He started this at start of 2017 pre-season. So here, he’ll give us an insight into how he managed to balance rugby and starting his own business. Has the breakdown specialist finished with rugby or has he got something else in the back pocket. Read through and you may find out! 

 

What are you up to now rugby is done?

I am concentrating on my new business and trying to grow it, plus I’m playing part-time for Sale FC. I’m also enjoying not having any fat tests done on me! 

 

What is your business you run and how did it come about?

My business is called Couch Grind Coffee. It is a coffee wholesale and retail business. I currently have 4 of my own unique blends that come in ground, bean and nespresso pod form. There are subtle links to rugby throughout, the name is a spin off from the scrum sequence crouch bind set. The blends are numbered after positions and there is a number 7 on the right hand side of the cup in the logo, as I play number 7.  It all started when chatting to a good friend, Chris Cusiter, on the back of a bus on the way back from paying Gloucester. Being a whisky fan myself we had had plenty of nights sipping on a few drams together but it was then that he said he was going to get into the whisky business post rugby. He said he would rather get into something he has a passion for than just a standard 9-5 and he could learn the business side but you can’t teach yourself the passion. Coffee was another passion of mine along with the whisky so it was there and then that I decided to give it a go.

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How is the business going and what challenges come with it?

It has been good – I have a coffee bar in a great building in Spinningfields which has been steadily getting busier since we opened last December.  On the wholesale side I have a handful of great customers and they have been supportive since the start so I am very grateful to them for that. You can also now buy Couch Grind Coffee in TK Max stores around the country, which is really exciting. The van is at our stadium and is open on match days and I am hoping to get it out to events when I finish rugby completely.

In terms of challenges, I’ve had to learn a lot, quickly. There is a LOT of admin that goes on! There seems to be paperwork for absolutely everything. I had never even heard of a risk assessment before, then I was having to do one for handing out leaflets!  

However, probably the biggest difference I have found that is in a rugby team, we live week to week –all of the decisions we make in a game are analysed on a Monday morning, and we are held completely accountable for our actions. There’s nowhere to hide and that means you work really hard to fix any issues immediately! So probably the most frustrating thing I have found in the ‘real world’, is that there isn’t always this same urgency!

 

People think running your own business you pay others to run it, is that case?

The majority of the time I have a couple of people who work on the coffee bar and the van. I do help out though and it’s not unusual to see me doing the odd shift.

It took 10 months from having the idea, getting the name and logo, getting my first 3 blends, getting a website, getting the van branded up and meeting with people to get the van in Spinningfields. I now have a fourth blend and as with the other 3, it takes time to taste work with the roasters to develop the taste you want, so there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. I do all the stock ordering and manage what is sold on the website, keep on top of everything needed for the bar and van, do the accounts etc.

So it’s a bit of both! Although I have to mention without my girlfriend Kirsty I wouldn’t know where to start with filling out all these forms and understanding the ‘real world’! I bounce ideas off her and listen to her ideas. Her endless support with all things Couch Grind Coffee is a great boost and is a massive part as to why it is where it is now.

 

Fill us in on your little trip to the concrete jungle New York.

It is somewhere that neither myself of my girlfriend have ever been and as I had sometime free and it was Kirsty’s birthday we decided to tick it off the list. It was amazing and certainly didn’t disappoint! We did all the standard tourist things and even watched a show on Broadway. The one thing I did really enjoy was trying all the independent coffee shops I could find. My favourite was a place called Black Fox Coffee in Wall street. Amazing coffee and the kind of place I would love to have one day for Couch Grind Coffee.

 

What advice do you have for others wanting to start their own business?

I have loved it, there has been times where I have thought I might have bitten off more than I can chew but I am so happy I went ahead with it. If you can get a partner it would help with the work load as when setting things up it takes longer than you think and there is twice as much than you thought there would be. Just never forget the reason why you wanted to do it as that will push you through the times when you may question why you started!

 

What is the next move for you?

It’s still early days for Couch Grind Coffee and I am looking to find somewhere else for another coffee bar and get a couple more wholesale clients. The idea is to have a starting 15 of blends so I have a long way to go there!

Now you have finished full time rugby, do you have any other plans, or is it just go with the flow?

I never had any serious plans post rugby until I thought of doing something with coffee, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what. I jumped in with both feet and I have basically had to work it out as I have gone along, so I’m excited to see where it goes. Rugby has obviously been my life and so I’m keen to stay involved where I can. I’ve started playing for Sale FC and I’m looking forward to helping them with their One Sale vision. Other than that, I’m just seeing what opportunities come up!

 

Predictions of competition winners 2018/19.

Premiership: Newcastle or Sale Sharks (would be great to see a northern team win again)

Pro 14: Glasgow

Top 14: Racing 92

Champions Cup:  Leinster

 

Dave Seymours best XV of players he has played with

1. The Fridge (Eifion Lewis-Roberts) – his raw power was something that won us many scrums and something I haven’t seen before or since.

 

2.  Marc Jones – passion is the best word to describe this man, you always want him on your side.

3.  Vadim Cobilas – the only tight head who can play 80mins every week and who has hands as good as a fly half.

4.  Simon Raiwalui – the biggest and hardest second row I have played with, a man you would follow anywhere.

5.  Chris Jack – he looked like he had never stepped foot in a gym! But his skill and decision making was second to none and you could see why he had 60+ caps for the All Blacks.

6.  Richard Hill – I was lucky enough to play alongside and learn from during my 5 years at Saracens. Probably the only man every coach would have had in their world 15 in the 15 years he played.

7.  Dan Braid – I was lucky to play with Braids for a number of years in the backrow. Amazing skill and the most knowledgeable rugby brain I have ever played with.

8.  Sisa Koyamaibole – Big Sisa was not a fan of any fitness or gym but the man mountain was the best man I have ever seen from a standing start, and from a scrum going backwards would get you 10m over the advantage line every time.

9.  Neil de Kock – scum half is the one position I have played alongside British & Irons Lions, All Blacks, world cup winners and internationals. De Kock came to Saracens and was unbelievable. He played over 200 games in the end, a fitness machine, the nicest bloke and was a key part of Saracens success.

10. Charlie Hodgson – his ability to pick out the right pass and the right time when he is flat at the line is something  you rarely see.

11. Mark Cueto – Cuets was a one club man and his passion was always there. He too is someone you always wanted on your side because when Mad Mark came out, there was no stopping him.

12. Lee Thomas – Bomber had one of the biggest kicks I have seen, strong man who loved the game. It was always a boost to have him in your team.

13. Matthew Tait: his break in the World Cup final in 2007 showed his great pace and amazing feet! I played 7’s at the Commonwealth Games with him and I saw how dangerous he can be when given some space.

14. Tevita Vaikona – TV was a Bradford Bulls legend and when he came to Saracens he quickly showed why. Still one of the best off-loading ability I have seen and gave the boys so much off the field as well as on it.

15. Paul Williams – even though he was only at Sale for a few years he impression was great. Whenever the ball got kicked back and he decided to run back, you knew every time he would bring it to where everyone was, even if they were 20 or 30m in front of him. 

Thanks Dave for taking the time to share his experience of his business with Rugby Yarns. All the best for the up and coming season with Sale FC.

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