There’s always room for one more; thoughts on competition

In many spheres of life, we often spend a lot of time analyzing and focusing on who/what we perceive as “our competition”. This can be in business, in social circles, and almost anywhere. I believe there’s always room for one more, and competition can actually be very healthy for everyone involved.

As I write this, I’m sitting at a Bootlegger Coffee Company in Cape Town. Bootlegger opened up almost out of nowhere, with a few stores across Cape Town, in a style reminiscent of a Starbucks (dark leather, good coffee, free WiFi, and a food menu). This is not too dissimilar to other coffee companies in Cape Town; Seattle Coffee Company (I wonder how they came up with that name), Mugg ‘n Bean, and Vida e Caffe. When Bootlegger first opened, I heard two main schools of thought; “how are they going to survive as a business” and “this looks really exciting, yet it’s nothing new”.

I believe a lot of the essence of these two schools of thought is the same; a specific outlook on competition. Some are asking why Bootlegger even bothers to try, as there is such a saturated coffee market in Cape Town already. Others are counting down the days until Bootlegger closes, for the same reason. It seems the only people not in this school of thought are (yep, you guessed it), the founders and owners of the Bootlegger Coffee Company.

Bootlegger dared to try something different. They took a model we’re already familiar with, added elements we “see in the movies” or when travelling, and created something not too different, yet different enough to not fail. All because they dared to try.

To me, this is a reminder that one doesn’t have to be revolutionary in an entirely new way in order to make an impact, and to try something new and exciting. Nothing we do is truly new, and is often rather a new approach or combination of existing elements we have in our lives. This is something Bootlegger have done, and which has worked well. Bootlegger is now expanding rapidly across Cape Town and other areas of South Africa (the Bootlegger I’m at today is actually a brand new branch).

If you have an idea, and you think it’s unoriginal, boring, or “already done”, think again, make a small directional change, and go for it. You may be pleasantly surprised.


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