When the three brain trusts behind Tiny Footprint, the world's first organic, 100 percent carbon-negative coffee, came together last year to create the new coffee brand, they knew they had a promising business venture in place.
What wasn't in place at the time was just how to grow the brand. That's where Kyle Meehan, a 2008 Carlson School BSB graduate, came in.
"I think my passion to be a part of something new and take a risk sold the guys at Pocket Hercules," says Meehan, who was hired by the Minneapolis-based advertising agency in May 2010 to create the marketing buzz behind Tiny Footprint. "They could see I was starving for something that would feed my entrepreneurial spirit. Also, graduating from the Carlson School definitely bolstered my credentials."
Although his official title is project manager, his job entails a lot more. While being a business development pro and salesperson in order to create new opportunities and increase sales, he's also charged with maintaining communication and strategy with the two other business partners behind the brand, artisan coffee roaster, Roastery 7; and the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation of Ecuador.
"Working with the partners, generating strategy, and starting a brand from scratch is special for someone my age," says the 24-year-old. "I have a lot of input on how to grow Tiny Footprint, and that's very rewarding."
Much as Meehan's job is rewarding for him, the environmentally conscious concept behind Tiny Footprint is rewarding for the planet. For each pound of Tiny Footprint coffee sold, trees are planted in the Mindo Cloudforest to heavily offset the carbon created to harvest, ship, roast, and deliver that pound of coffee. The math is four pounds of carbon created, 54 pounds of carbon offset by the planting of trees, which equates to a net negative carbon footprint of 50 pounds.
"Every day is distinctive," says Meehan of working to spread the "50 Pounds of Karma in Each Bag," as is Tiny Footprint's motto, in the marketplace. "There is always something to be done, always a new opportunity to capture, always a new idea to execute, and always people to talk with about the brand. I love it!"
Prior to working for Pocket Hercules, Meehan, who majored in finance and entrepreneurship, spent time after graduation working in the finance industry and did some consulting work as well. He traces his past and present successes to his Carlson School education.
"The finance and entrepreneurship programs have proven to be effective in helping me secure employment in competitive industries and a competitive job market," he says. "The Carlson School provided me solid fundamentals and real-life examples of how to approach business problems in an entrepreneurial setting, and gave me the knowledge of how to manage a limited budget in the most effective way."
Meehan still has ties to the Carlson School through his regular discussions with his mentor, Steve Spruth, senior lecturer, strategic management and organization. "He is an incredible resource to me and he had a powerful impact on my desire to be an entrepreneur."
While he feels like an entrepreneur today, Meehan says his goal is to eventually own his own business and truly take full ownership of an idea that was original to him. "I have not stumbled upon that idea just yet," he says. "But when I do, it will be something that people look at me and say, 'Wow that guy is passionate!'"