Garbage Man, Recycle Man, Ice Man, Fuel Man, and now … Coffee Man.
These may not be the official titles held by 40-year-old Caymanian entrepreneur Jason Brown, but they do encapsulate his life’s work.
Brown manages five businesses, but the idea for his first one came while working as an apprentice plumber, during which he saw the opportunity to provide waste-hauling services to general contractors and others.
“It was then that Island Waste Carriers Ltd (IWC) was formed. I was 24 years old when I applied for the trade and business licence and started seeking permission to import equipment for the business,” says Brown, who started IWC in 2004.
IWC’s sister company, Island Recycling, came next in 2013, followed by Mike’s Ice and Mike’s Esso.
“I then went on to purchase shares in Mike’s Ice in 2016, a family business that was formed by my father and grandfather 45 years ago. In addition to this I added Mike’s Esso to my portfolio in 2016 because I was already a shareholder,” he says.
In 2019, Brown opened his fifth business, Caribbean Coffee Traders Limited, which exclusively owns Starbucks in Cayman, and is sub-licensed and operated through Caribbean Coffee Baristas Cayman Limited, a consortium led by Jamaican entrepreneurs Ian Dear and Adam Stewart, with Brown as the local partner.
The US coffeehouse chain has become one of the largest roasters and retailers of specialty coffee in the world, with more than 30,000 stores around the globe. As the first Starbucks in Cayman, there was much fanfare when it opened its doors in August 2019. Located in the heart of Camana Bay, next to Books & Books, the 1,500-square-foot space has attracted a steady stream of customers ever since.
“The Starbucks brand is no stranger to the majority of the Cayman population who have enjoyed it for many years whether during studies abroad or travelling for work or pleasure,” Brown says. “I, too, have always been a fan of the brand and with the diverse and growing economy and the melting pot of cultures who work, live or visit our Cayman shores, I saw an opportunity for visitors and locals alike to enjoy the world’s finest coffee right here at home.”
Brown hails from a long line of successful entrepreneurs, with parents Mike and JoAnne Brown proving to be his greatest mentors and supporters who instilled a strong work ethic in him from a young age.
JoAnne Brown is a successful businesswoman who owns the Cayman-based wedding and event company Celebrations Ltd. “My mom is awesome, a true rock star who found her passion early in life and works tirelessly to maintain her well-respected position within the market. I have been blessed to have two amazing role models, in both my mom and my dad, that have inspired me in business and life in general,” says Brown.
He adds, “Seeing how hard my parents worked to provide for us and put us through school made me understand that I ultimately had a responsibility to do something positive with my life. I cut my teeth listening to business rhetoric, negotiations and brilliant ideas, so it was only natural that I followed this course. I wanted, however, to prove to myself that I could achieve something on my own and took the leap despite all odds.”
Brown grew up in Prospect Park and attended St. Ignatius Catholic School before moving to Florida for high school, and later to Boston, Massachusetts, for university.
He also credits his wife, Courtney, with providing strength and support to him and their two young daughters, Chloe and Charlie.
“My wife is also a rock star, an amazing woman who is hugely a part of our success in the business,” he says. “More importantly she is a wonderful mom and balances her time so well with all of our commitments. I’m the lucky one and love her dearly.”
Brown’s advice to others wishing to pursue their own entrepreneurial career path is to stay the course.
“Make sure to choose something you enjoy doing and it will be that much more fulfilling. Have a vision of what you would like to accomplish and share it with your team so you can row in the same direction to achieve it. Although skill is important, I would say success is really achieved by having the right attitude, heart and drive.”
Even when the days are challenging, Brown loves pushing for growth in Cayman’s “small island” economy, as well as keeping his team motivated and excited about personal development.
“The pursuit of a new challenge and business in general gets me up every day,” he says.
That, and perhaps a strong cup of joe, too?