Meet The Member: Coumba Ndao Ba, VP of Sales & Operations, GOffee

Member news, Women in Business | March 18, 2020

The Meet the Member feature is continuing to celebrate Women's History Month & #IWD2020 this March by highlighting our strong female business community.

Last week with we spoke to, Coumba Ndao Ba, the dynamic VP of Sales & Operations of GOffee, a French-founded sustainable coffee delivery service startup operating in New York City. 

Read more to learn valuable insights on being a French entrepreneur in the U.S. and the benefits and challenges it comes along with.

FACC: What is the best advice you could give a French entrepreneur just arriving in the U.S. to develop their business?

CNB: My first piece of advice would be to forget all about the “French code” and put yourself into “American mode”: force yourself to be more audacious, don’t be afraid of asking, and of course network! Organizations such as the FACC are very helpful since there are so many different types of members from different industries. These events are a great opportunity to easily make interesting connections and the French community in NYC is much more solidary here than in France.

I arrived here after my husband’s transfer for work, to be very honest, it was a complicated challenge! Arriving in a new city, being far from your family and friends and completely out of your comfort zone is very hard! Especially when you are used to being an independent woman with a good career! 

I knew when I arrived that I needed to work quickly to establish myself but a salesperson with no network, zero understanding of the culture/market, always being lost in the subway and having a terrible French accent created a lot of barriers for me.

Entrepreneurship is a real challenge. I can see a lot of people around me trying to start business NYC just to be in NYC. You have to be prepared because I feel that before expatriation people are always preparing themselves for their new lives. However, when it comes to NYC people are still surprised to see how different the environment is. It takes a few months to fully understand how this city works.

FACC: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as an innovator? Why and how did this person impact your life and help you get to where you are today?

CNB: Without any hesitation—Vincent Meyer, the CEO of GOffee! In my opinion, he is probably one of the biggest geniuses of the year. He created GOffee by digitalizing the coffee industry as an employee perk.

The business model is unique: GOffee delivers employees their personalized cups of coffee/tea every morning. Employees order via app or web and select their favorite brand (Starbucks, Dunkin’, etc.), type of drink (drip, cappuccino, latte, etc.), milk, sugar, and add-ons. GOffee baristas then individually craft the drinks and deliver them right to employees’ desks in eco-friendly cups.

I had just arrived in NYC when Vincent allowed me to join GOffee as VP of Sales and Operations. I learned so much from him. I was able to personally experience all the steps and challenges that you face as a founder and CEO. From the fundraising, sales strategies, operations, and recruitment, I learned a lot. I feel more confident now making decisions. He has also helped me to adapt to American culture and American business culture. I feel so lucky to have this everyday coaching from him. 

FACC: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that startups (or companies in general) working towards Sustainability are currently facing in 2020?

CNB: First of all, sustainability has a cost! Any company that wants to be more sustainable will have to do some investment first. It can be very hard to convince your finance department if they are not sensitive to those types of changes.

Second, sustainability requires effort from everyone in the company; trying to avoid waste or separate waste is a daily collective effort.

And lastly, sustainability is all about the “long term”. Because the efforts and impact of sustainable changes are very hard to measure in the short term, everyone needs to stay motivated.

FACC: What do you think the general public should know about the GOffee brand and its goals?  

CNB: As the first coffee company to deliver personalized coffee orders across multiple offices in NYC, we have the vision to enhance employees’ morning routines across the US and then around the globe.

We envision offices becoming more energized, productive, and social space through delicious morning coffee deliveries. We are revolutionizing how coffee is served by using eco-friendly cups that will reduce the coffee waste that is polluting the world today. So far we have saved over 18,600 pounds of waste since our launch in August 2018! 

FACC: What motivates you?

CNB: My parents are both originally from Africa and they arrived forty years ago in France with nothing. Born and raised in France, I had the opportunity to be educated, have a good job and many other privileges.

Today I am in NYC and who knows where can I be tomorrow. I feel so thankful for all this and this is why I get up every morning - knowing that everything is possible and the sky is the limit!

When I arrived in NYC I was determined to prove to myself and my husband that I would make my way in this city, bring money to my household and regain the same status that I had in Paris, and then some!

When I see all the people around me who are struggling to get a visa or making a lot of sacrifices to stay in this city, I feel lucky to be here in great conditions. NYC is an amazing place that is full of opportunities and I really want to take advantage of this wonderful city. I feel like I am learning and growing every day, and I am motivated to continue to improve. 

So to reply to your question - life! Life is my inspiration.

Interested in connecting with Coumba? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send her a message.