Entrepreneurship Meets Philanthropy
Entrepreneurship Meets Philanthropy

Who doesn't like a good cup of Joe? Especially if satisfies the caffeine craving while also accomplishing some good.

That was the goal OCS senior Brooke Bryan and junior Erik Hainer as they launched Catalyst Coffee, an on-campus coffee shop that delivers a superb brew while helping students fund their mission trips. Students work their shifts and their "wages" are monies that go toward the mission trip of their choice.

Bryan has friends who want to go on missions trips and said she would get "ten support letters a week asking for money," and wanted to provide an alternative way for students to fund their trips.

"Our employees say they love working here, working with a purpose. Every hour they work is more money for their trip. It's awesome handing a cup of coffee to our peers knowing that it's really good coffee, but also helping others," said Bryan.

Catalyst Coffee is the capstone project of Bryan and Hainer's entrepreneur class taught by Beau Brannon. Hainer is a self-proclaimed coffee snob and felt there wasn't a place on campus to get authentic coffee.

"Everyone drinks coffee. Everyone goes to Starbucks. So instead of having that money to go a big corporation, why not invest it in the OCS mission? It's nice to know that something I love so much is going to a good cause," he said.

Even the money they spent on buying coffee from Wild Goose Coffee helps the local community. For every pound of coffee they buy, Wild Goose donates 10 pounds of food to a local food bank.

Junior Roxy Cooke is thrilled to have a chance to earn money for the India mission trip she hopes to go on next year, working with orphans and local villagers.

"I didn't know how I was going to do it, so working here has been so awesome," she shared while handing a customer a drink.

While the philanthropic focus is the foundation of their project, Bryan and Hainer are also realists. They put together a business plan, pitched it to the administration, secured seed-money and did research. They manage cash flow to make sure they are investing back into the business, but also on track to pay back the seed money to the investors.

And they work hard.

Bryan arrives at 6:15am every day before the student employees to set everything up. Hainer gets there about 6:45am and shops for all the supplies. The shop is open from 7:30am to 1:30pm and is located across from the deans' office in the high school. They usually stay until 8:00pm wrapping up the day. In between all that they attend class, they are both on the TEDx student committee, Bryan plays lacrosse and Hainer volunteers at Calvary Community Church in the special needs ministry. Amazingly, they are able to balance it all and have never been late once to class because of their business.

Bryan plans to attend Liberty University in the fall and major in business. Hainer wants to major in international business after he graduates in 2018. Running Catalyst Coffee is definitely a training ground for that, including how to manage employees and troubleshoot problems.

"We scouted a couple of locations, but where we are is the best for traffic flow, but our area had no water hook-up. It would cost too much money to bring in a water line so we had to problem-solve," said Bryan. Hainer did some research and they found they could install a sink with a portable water drum. He also found an espresso machine that didn't have to be connected directly to a waterline.

They employ 10 students, do all the interviewing and hiring, train the workers, and report their hours to World Missions and Community Service Director Susi Matzke who credits them to the students' mission trips.

"We've had to learn how to schedule people, making sure all the shifts are covered and that we have policies in place if someone misses their shift without telling us," said Hainer.

And like any good executives, they already have a plan of succession once they both graduate. Hainer will take over for Bryan next year, and he will train a rising senior to take over for him when he graduates.

"This is absolutely everything we hoped for and has surpassed our projections. We didn't know it could turn into something so awesome and the thanks goes to our mentors and teachers," said Bryan.