CO.STARTERS Spotlight: Seth Nelson

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Most early teenagers are starting high school and spending their free time hanging out with friends, but at the young age of fourteen, Seth Nelson was busy starting a business. Nelson’s homegrown business, The Farmer’s Perk Organic Coffee Co., started from scratch with only $400 and a kid’s entrepreneurial spirit. He bought fold-out tables and air pots and began showing up every Saturday morning at the farmers’ market to serve Jacksonians coffee while they browsed the produce.

Five years later, Nelson was named winner of theCO’s Best in the West 2017 Competition, had graduated high school a full semester early, and had bought a food truck to start the second branch of his business: Cock-A-Doodle Dough. Although Seth had started a successful business by himself, he decided to take CO.STARTERS five months after winning Best in the West, which had originally introduced him to theCO.

“[CO.STARTERS] really reestablished some of the basics for me,” Nelson explains. “Initially when I had started The Farmer’s Perk at fourteen, I was looking at things like who my customers were and elemental things like that. When I started Cock-A-Doodle Dough, we kind of already had our customer base in my mind. So, doing CO.STARTERS really brought me back to the basics to reevaluate some of the more fundamental aspects of business.”

Cock-A-Doodle Dough has since celebrated its one-year anniversary on July 4, but Nelson’s success was not without challenges. Seth started college and quickly realized he was failing classes due to lack of attendance. College had seemed to open up his schedule to work more, as opposed to a seven-hour school day in high school, and it had become difficult to balance schoolwork and a small business.

Nelson laughs and says, “What had happened was I was choosing between going to calculus class and working. If I could take my truck and go to a good event, then I was going to go to the event. It was halfway through the semester, and I said ‘Pull me out,’ dropped my classes, and went to work that night.”

Nelson certainly had to make sacrifices to get his business to its current point of prosperity, but he says he has no regrets. He feels like he has been able to be involved in the development of downtown Jackson and even originally considered pushing The Farmer’s Perk to brick-and-mortar in the Jackson Walk.

“We were actually going through the process of meeting with builders,” Nelson says. “It had been a couple months, and the idea of a food truck came up, and it was less of a jump. Instead of jumping into a boat that was ten feet off the dock, we were were just stepping into a boat, so that it would be a lot easier of a transition. And then one day the transition from food truck to brick-and-mortar would be even easier.”

However, Nelson says he has hesitations about moving into a physical store just yet, since he wants to be sure the downtown market could sustain both his local coffee shop and his food truck within a relatively small area. Although the idea is not out of the question, he says a permanent space would be something he considers to be possible within five years.

Even though a physical building is not in his immediate plans, Nelson says that the mobility of a food truck has allowed him to add to the development in downtown Jackson and become involved in the community in a different way.

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“We can reach different demographics of people in completely different areas just by being mobile, and it has allowed us to break into the community more easily,” he says.

Community is an important aspect of business to Nelson, and he steadily attributes his success to the city of Jackson.

“The farmers’ market is our roots and base,” he says. “We just have an incredible time out there with all five of us workers in the truck on Saturday mornings.”

Even though the farmers’ market holds a lot of his customer base, Nelson also credits theCO with the advancement of both Cock-A-Doodle Dough and The Farmer’s Perk. He now has resident desk at theCO and does much of the managerial side of business there.

“theCO has definitely been influential in the prosperity and growth of my business,” he says. “Moving into theCO has been huge as far as making connections. I can only have so many connections by myself. I can only know so much about the community, about things going on in Jackson, and so having my own community of like-minded people who have their own talents and knowledge has been super impactful. There is a whole wealth of knowledge in this community of entrepreneurs.”

The Cock-A-Doodle Dough food truck is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. in the Court Square and is also at the West Tennessee Farmer’s Market most Saturdays. Stay up to date with Seth Nelson’s local business here, and learn more about CO.STARTERS here.