Loyola Marymount University '10 - Bachelor of Arts, Business, Entrepreneurship and Management
Founder and CEO, Superba Coffee
“I never thought I wouldn’t own my own business,” said alumnus Ryan Yacura, the founder and CEO of Superba Coffee, based in Marina Del Rey. “My father is an entrepreneur, and I guess I just inherited that desire for independence and freedom.” What may have come as a surprise—to others, if not Ryan—is that he would have his own company before he even graduated from college. He launched his business in March of this year, after spending five months in startup mode, then graduated from Loyola Marymount University three months later.
While he definitely enjoys entrepreneurial genes, Ryan also takes his big steps very carefully, asking questions and seeking advice from an ever-growing group of knowledgeable colleagues. As a case in point, he contacted SCDS trustee Marshall Dawson this spring after reading about Mr. Dawson’s marketing expertise in the February 2010 Day Light. He enjoyed and definitely benefited from an enlightening hour-long conversation about brand marketing. “I’ve found that if you reach out, more often than not, people recognize your passion and goals and will get back to you,” Ryan said.
Ryan appreciated his SCDS education for supporting him as he followed his passions. Although we offered a middle school education, he compares his experience here to the supportive relationships he found in college. “SCDS wasn’t as much about ‘doing the schoolwork’ as it was about making me feel that if I learned, the school would help me do something with it,’” he said.
While starting a business wasn’t an expectation of his major (Ryan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in business with emphases in entrepreneurship and management), he was certainly prepared for the process. “I took several classes at LMU where we dealt with various business scenarios for hypothetical and real companies, and students created business plans, marketing plans, and financial projections as though they were employees. I also took classes where I developed business ideas from startup to ongoing operations.”
He also enjoyed access to, and learning from, professors and entrepreneurs willing to share information. For example, a lesson in the importance of relationships came from the founder of Kinko’s, Paul Orfalea, who said that entrepreneurs needed to learn to effectively ask and answer questions, and to be aware of their surroundings every day in their search of opportunity.
That counsel certainly applied to how Superba Coffee came to be. Ryan went from hating coffee to being obsessed with it after traveling in Italy and enjoying the high-quality medium roast coffees served in that country. Upon returning to California, he engrossed himself in developing a medium roast product as tasty as the Italian coffees he had enjoyed. After accomplishing that goal, starting a business was a natural next step, and his artisanal micro-roaster coffee company now has two full-time employees and two part-time employees. Superba operates retail and wholesale divisions that sell and distribute regular and decaffeinated coffee beans as well as an online store available to consumers at www.superbacoffee.com
Although a Southern California businessman, Ryan maintains some important ties to Santa Rosa in addition to relishing fond memories of SCDS. His parents live here, and entrepreneur that Ryan is, his company’s high-quality coffee roaster, which meets the strict emissions requirements of Marina Del Rey, was found after an extensive search at Santa Rosa’s own Loring Smart Roast.