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The Improper Bostonian - Eat Your Coffee Entrepreneurs

Running late paid off for Eat Your Coffee founders Johnny Fayad, 22, and Ali Kothari, 21, who dreamed up their Eat Your Coffee Bar—an energy bar packed with a cup of fair-trade joe—as busy freshman business students at Northeastern. “We started this partly as a joke, just running late to our morning classes and wondering why we couldn’t just eat our coffee and get the day going quicker,” Fayad explains. They cooked up early prototypes in their dorm’s shared kitchen and entered Northeastern’s Spring 2013 Husky Startup Challenge; a Kickstarter campaign the next year reached its goal in just 15 hours. Now their Eat Your Coffee Bars can be found in 400 retail locations across the U.S., including local Shaw’s and Star Markets, and they hope to reach 10,000 stores by 2018. The pair’s recipe for success? “Northeastern has been a huge resource for us,” says Kothari, who notes that they received two grants from the university and plenty of support from peers: Student-run design studio Scout helped create the packaging, a campus legal group lent a hand with trademark paperwork, and Eat Your Coffee is one of 180 ventures enrolled in the student-led accelerator IDEA. In turn, they’ve sought to support fellow students and entrepreneurs, donating a percentage of proceeds to help fund a new school in Nicaragua, a microloan program for entrepreneurs in Guatemala and the after-school program buildOn—a cause they also supported with a Boston Marathon run, fueling their training, naturally, with Eat Your Coffee Bars. Not that the two coffee connoisseurs have sworn off their beloved pour-overs. As Fayad says, “We try not to eat through too much of our revenue.”

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