Is The Starbucks Business Model Your Cup of Coffee?

October 7, 2015 | Rob LaPointe

Starbucks Business Model
Is The Starbucks Business Model Your Cup of Coffee?

There are very few businesses that have had the success of Starbucks. From a small Seattle local coffee shop to an international retail giant, Starbucks has always kept to the strategy that made them successful in the first place: listening to the market.

Today, ‘listening to the market’ means one major thing: mobile app development. Apps started off in 2008 as a real techie product, but it didn’t take entrepreneurs long to realize the untapped potential that apps represented. Today, apps exist for any and all industries and have dramatically changed the way in which a modern business operates.

To reiterate, the usefulness of apps is not limited to the tech world. Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and other mainstream food service industries all have skin in the game, from customer engagement apps to the new Starbucks ordering apps. Whole business such as OpenTable and Door Dash are entirely based on food ordering apps for restaurants. Do you have an app idea for your business? Hire expert app developers today.

In today’s fast-paced world, online food ordering apps have been around for “a while,” despite the temporally short period for which they’ve been around. This isn’t to say that entrepreneurs should wash their hands of the entire idea and move on to the next big thing. In fact, it’s more of an argument to act now; eventually, someone will realize that online ordering apps are just getting started. Why can’t you be that someone?

The tech world has a bad habit. And no, it’s not overuse of the word “disruptive,” though that is a real problem as well. Our bad habit is getting caught up in the fast-paced world I mentioned above. All too often, someone comes up with a great new use for an app; everyone fawns over it for a while and then we just assume the idea is dead.

That’s not how business works, though. As any businessperson can tell you, building a company is an iterative process, both internally and externally. Externally, no idea occurs in a vacuum. Inspiration is the result of observation, opportunity, and creativity. You need to be able to observe the world to spot the opportunity for creative solutions.

GrubHub did not spontaneously occur; it was a solution to the lack of proprietary delivery services. Door Dash, OpenTable, and even Starbuck’s online ordering app were all inspired by GrubHub and other similar services – but thought they could do it better, or at least differently.


The importance of creativity in the business world is frequently neglected. People have a habit of looking at the business world and seeing budgets, revenue streams, growth projections – basically, they can’t see the forest for all numbers…or some other sort of mixed metaphor. After all, business majors don’t go to college to learn creativity – they go to learn what all those numbers mean.

But perhaps our business classes should have given more emphasis to creativity and its importance. Creativity is essential to create (see what I did there?) a business, especially in a market as inundated with competitors as the app market. Creativity is an integral part of a good business model and strategy, not to mention app and web design.

Online food ordering apps are a great example of what I mean: app makers in this market relied upon innovation and cleverness to tweak an existing service (food delivery and advanced ordering). The result was a brand new product – now worth nearly $9billion dollars annually. The best entrepreneurs are ones who think the most creatively.


Of course that $9 billion mentioned is only a fraction of the potential market for online food ordering apps. Starbucks is one of the first major corporations to realize this (though not the last) and is working to get on board before it’s too late.

Being able to spot an opportunity is a necessary component of a successful entrepreneur (read more about the common mistakes entrepreneurs make here). There’s no other way to put it. No business succeeds in a market where there is no opportunity for them to do so.

Business is all about capitalizing on the right opportunity – whether that opportunity is the right service, the right time, or the right market. The key is recognizing and acting when opportunities appear – and, naturally, the ability to observe.


Observation is the third part of this entrepreneurial trinity and is just as important as the other two. Without being able to observe markets, competitors, trends and your own company, there is no way to spot opportunities. With no opportunities, there’s no place to let out that all-important creative spirit.

Observation is the door that must be opened in order for any business venture to succeed. Starbuck’s online ordering app is not their first app – it was merely an example of keen observation.

Someone in the company saw that there was an underutilized opportunity (i.e. their first app could do more); they were inventive enough to realize that they could streamline their orders for busy customers, and they acted to make a better product. So, observation is the step that makes everything else possible.

All three aspects of a successful business are not relegated to the beginning of a venture. In fact, they wind and thread their way through every single part of a business. This is no truer than it is in the app development world. Appreneurs, as we are known, need to constantly observe the lay of the land in order to be ready to come up with new solutions or improvements. A good business never stops improving and a successful app is always changing.

Everybody thinks they have a great business idea. At SDI we spend time in validating your idea and brainstorm how we can take your project from concept to launch. Speak to Raj Srivastav and get a free quote for your business model and which programming language will best suit your product.

Call us now at 408.805.0495 to get the ball rolling on your project. You can also shoot us an email at with a brief description of your requirement and we will call you right back.

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