Editor’s note: KCultivators is a lighthearted profile series to highlight people who are meaningfully enriching Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by WeWork Corrigan Station, a modern twist on Kansas City office space.Holding a red, Thou Mayest-branded mug, Bo Nelson credited the success of his 18th Street coffee shop to family talent, nurtured like the soil.
“Building something from the ground up … it’s been kind of my DNA,” Nelson said, alluding to the Kansas City-based nursery his grandfather started in 1965. It was the coffee roaster’s first sip of entrepreneurial drive.
With unorthodox ideas and a desire to build authentic community, Nelson and his business partner “shook the ant farm” and launched Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters from Nelson’s garage in 2012.
“The way is open,” he said, citing an explanation of the meaning behind his ever-brewing coffee shop’s name and the way he’s chosen to embrace his life’s journey.
“The satisfaction of having a brick-and-mortar space, for me at least, there’s just an energy,” he said of the popular meetup spot for startup entrepreneurs and creatives. “There’s like an electricity … it’s why I get up in the morning, just to see people interacting in here.”
Percolating with fresh ideas for the business, Nelson strives to do and promote good in a world filled with chaos, he said.
Startland News sat down with Nelson to learn how he’s embracing the fun in life. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by WeWork Corrigan Station, which provides entrepreneurs and businesspeople a community and a workspace.
Age: Just turned 33.
Hometown: Walcott, Kansas. Because if anybody knows what that is … Brother, that doesn’t exist anymore. But, we can say Piper too.
Weirdest thing you’ve eaten: I went to China last year and there are some things that I didn’t actually know existed. That sounds pretty cliche — ‘cause I had some of the best food I’ve ever had — but when we went to mainland China, like I said, it was chicken feet or something. That’s probably the most recent one that has been pretty out there.
You’re up to bat for the Royals, what’s your walk-up song: I’ve got my theme music: “Mais Um” by Souleance. I love music. I grew up in a very musical household, grew up playing instruments my entire life. I just believe in the power of music and like solidifying a time and space, you know, and like you hear a song and takes you back.
What keeps you in Kansas City: We’ve got everything you want to live that good, great, whatever life. You got great food, beverage, you know, you can drive 15 minutes into the countryside from downtown, therefore, you can grow. I love all that stuff.
You have a time machine and can travel anywhere in the past or future. Where and when do you go? I’m a futurist, I would probably go to the future. I don’t want to get crazy philosophical, but I’m just fascinated by what the future has for Kansas City.
Favorite travel locale: South Africa, its like the Wild West. A lot of times, you have to be a story you know, you have to be adventurous. If the door is open, I walk in, and so sometimes it can get me to some really interesting places.
Your mantra or motto: I want to create safe environments for people to be able to take risks.