Alexander Hildenbrandt of Stonework Franchising is targeting military veterans with what he claims is a “Tried, Tested and Proven” opportunity called the Cuppy’s Coffee franchise. A little research indicates that the Cuppy’s Coffee concept was once a tried, tested and proven FAILURE that destroyed the financial well-being of dozens, if not hundreds, of families and resulted in numerous bankruptcies and home foreclosures. Is Alex Hildenbrandt using the leftover branding of a failed concept to lure fellow military veterans into a doomed investment? We invite him to say it ain’t so.
(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) Alexander Hildenbrandt appears to be one of those franchise salesmen and brokers who likes to call himself a franchise “expert” and a “consultant.”
He claims that his military service as a “ground, tactical interrogator 2007-09” in Iraq and Afghanistan makes him deeply concerned about the financial welfare his fellow military veterans, and he can help them find “franchises that are hot in the market, great for people new to business.”
However, a skeptic might point out that military “interrogators” are skillful manipulators, who use words, half-truths and emotions to achieve their objectives.
A skeptic might point out that anyone can call themselves an “expert” regardless of expertise or accomplishment.
And commission-driven franchise salesmen often deceptively call themselves “consultants.”
However, “consultants” are paid by their clients for their unbiased advice and guidance. Franchise brokers like Alexander Hildenbrandt (who is a member of the Franchise Brokers Association), on the other hand, receive substantial commissions, likely in the $10,000+ range, for every franchise sale they close… regardless of whether the franchise buyer is successful or goes broke.
(Used car salesmen also provide “consultation” with buyers, but even they claim to be “automotive consultants.”)
So let’s take a look at the opportunity “franchise expert” Alexander Hildenbrandt is promoting to his fellow military veterans, and discuss a few of the red flags prospective franchisees may want to consider before investing in Mr. Hildenbrandt’s Cuppy’s Coffee (or other) franchise opportunity.
This post consists of the opinions of the author and are presented for discussion and debate. Upon publication of this post, we invited Alexander Hildenbrandt, self-described Co-Founder of Cuppy’s Coffee & President of Stonework Franchising, to provide any corrections, clarifications, or rebuttals to the opinions stated here. We will publish Mr. Hildenbrandt’s response and correct any factual errors upon receipt.
Alex Hildenbrandt calls Cuppy’s Coffee “Tried, Tested & Proven.” They Don’t Appear to Have a Single Operational Unit.
Alex Hildenbrandt’s LinkedIn profile states that he is Co-founder & Development Director of Cuppy’s Coffee Franchise from Mar 2017 – Present.
His LinkedIn profile states:
Cuppys Coffee and Smoothies is your ticket to starting the Coffee Business of your Dreams the easy way! We are not just coffee but three proven streams of revenue in one business. Our ‘Tried, Tested and Proven” methods of getting you into the coffee business will help insure [sic] that you are making maximum profit from your new Coffee Drive Thru, Coffee Shop or Coffee Cart. Cuppys Coffee and Smoothies has custom tailored programs that are perfect for just about every entrepreneur and since Cuppy’s coffee system has been fine tuned, your chances of hitting it big are greatly multiplied.
Questions for Alex Hildenbrandt:
- Who are your two co-founders and what coffee industry experience do any of you have?
- When and where was your first Cuppy’s Coffee location opened?
- How many Cuppy’s Coffee locations have you operated? How many are currently operating? How long have they been in business?
- How many years of experimentation and fine-tuning did your company invest to create this “tried, tested and proven” concept?
- Have you ever even worked behind the counter of a coffee café?
- We cannot find evidence of a single prototype location being operated by this company. There is no location list on the Cuppy’s website.
- We see no evidence that either Mr. Hildenbrandt OR his partner James “X” have ANY Coffee industry experience whatsoever
- The franchisees and staff video testimonials appear to have been given by paid actors or friends.
- Other franchisee testimonials being used are from franchisees of an unrelated Cuppy’s Coffee company that failed long ago.
- Photographs and video of Cuppy’s locations used in Hildenbrandt’s marketing are from a previous, unrelated Cuppy’s Coffee company that failed, entirely, long ago. The locations were attractive, but financially unsustainable.
- The company website & videos refer to the company’s experience, but the current corporation was only formed 04/07/2016
Alexander Hildenbrandt’s Partner(s) Appears to Be Using A Fake Name(s)
The trademark and corporation registrations were also under the name Kenneth B. Kopp of 20 Tanglewood Dr., Greenville, S.C.
An initial press release distributed in July, 2016 named Kenneth Kopp as President and Dia Matheos as Vice President of Operations for Cuppy’s Coffee.
Now, Alex Hildenbrandt is claiming that he is co-founder of Cuppy’s Coffee with someone named “James.” (In another video, they refer to three co-founders.)
Alex Hildenbrandt’s supposed co-founder sometimes refers to himself as James Kopp, married to Dia Matheos.
Yet, on Facebook he claims to be James Knight, married to Dia Matheos.
“James Knight” posted the picture to the left of his 5K run in Greenville, SC earlier this year. When we checked the race registration, their bib numbers were registered to “Dia Kopp” & “James Kopp.” And James Knight’s Facebook address is “Koppster1966″
Are James Kopp, James Knight, and Kenneth Brian Kopp all the same person?
If this is a legitimate franchise, why is the co-founder hiding his identity?
Questions for Alexander Hildenbrandt:
- Who exactly are the principals of Cuppy’s Coffee?
- Is Kenneth Kopp/James Kopp/ James Knight the same person?
- Why the need for fake names and aliases?
- What role does Robert Dale Nabors play in this organization?
- Shouldn’t prospective franchisees know the true identities of those they are going into business with?
- Fake names and aliases are hallmarks of scammers and others with something to hide
- The FTC requires franchisors to disclose the names and backgrounds of its principals in its FDD. Cuppy’s Coffee refuses to provide a copy of its FDD for review, and is avoiding all registration states that would require them to provide one for review.
Alexander Hildenbrandt Claims They Don’t Make Illegal Earnings Claims
In several of the Cuppy’s Coffee sales videos, Alex Hildenbrandt flippantly dashes off some “legal verbiage” he claims their lawyer requires them to include.
In ten-minute-plus franchise sales presentations, Hildenbrandt says they are not offering franchises, just providing “information.”
He also states that they are not providing Financial Performance Representations (FPRs) or “earnings claims” of any kind.
Then he and his partner proceed with their aggressive franchise sales pitch that seems, arguably, rife with illegal earnings claims.
Alexander Hildenbrandt repeatedly displays the QSR 50 industry report that indicates Starbucks stores gross over $1,000,000 per year, and then infers that Cuppy’s can exceed that since it’s selling so much more than coffee.
The video displays a Cuppy’s Coffee graphic with subheads “$1M in Sales” and “5% Growth” (which fine print explains refers to Starbucks sales and industry growth, respectively).
And if the implication that Cuppy’s Coffee could possibly achieve sales of one of the world’s most recognized and popular brands, Hildenbrandt’s partner (Ken/James/Kopp/Knight) actually claims that Cuppy’s Coffee will far exceed Starbucks’ sales with an average ticket of “$45… 50… even $65…”
“James” mentions weekly sales of $3,000 – $5,000 a week.
One of the video actors states that Cuppy’s customers return four times per week – despite the fact that there are no Cuppy’s customers.
Questions for Alexander Hildenbrandt:
- Do you really believe citing Starbuck’s annual unit volume, then giving reasons Cuppy’s should exceed it, is not an illegal earning’s claim?
- Do you really think that your many-named partner’s examples of $45-$60 average sales tickets are not illegal earnings claims?
- That there are inexperienced, trusting people out there who will actually fall for this faulty and misleading & preposterous (to those in the industry) sales pitch
Alex Hildenbrandt’s Partner Claims Cuppy’s Has It’s OWN Roasting Plant & Coffee College in Seattle
Alex Hildenbrandt’s Partner (James Kopp, or Kenneth Kopp, or James Knight) states that once a franchisee signs up, they will be trained at Cuppy’s Coffee College in Seattle.
He claims that Cuppy’s has its own roasting plant there in Seattle where training will also take place.
“We’re going to go to Seattle. We’re going to see the roasting plant. We have our own roasting plant that roasts the beans for Cuppy’s Coffee, and we’re going to train you there.”
And then, James Kopp or James Knight states that they will complete training in the franchisee’s own store because they want to train them “on their own equipment.”
Or could it be that they have no training facility?
They have no training store?
They have no training staff?
They have no experience?
And they have no business selling franchises?
Invitation: These assertions are the author’s opinions offered for discussion and debate. We invite Alexander Hildenbrandt, Kenneth Kopp, James Kopp, James Knight, Dia Matheos and/or anyone else discussed on UnhappyFranchisee.Com to provide corrections, clarifications, opposing viewpoints and/or rebuttals which will be published as appropriate.
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH CUPPY’S COFFEE FRANCHISE, ALEXANDER HILDENBRANDT, STONEWORK FRANCHISING, CUPPY’S COFFEE, KENNETH KOPP, JAMES KOPP, AND/OR DIA MATHEOS? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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