Troy Hanson's family doesn't need Starbucks. No, they have a coffee whiz under their own roof. And Hanson, a rising high school sophomore, aims to make a career out of the coffee business.
"Ever since I was young, I just like making coffee and food, and I have my own little store that I have in my house," he said. "I started doing that when I was about maybe 12. My family would order something out, and I'd make it. They would order lattes, hot chocolate, cappuccinos, frappuccinos, all sorts of stuff."
Hanson, the son of Richard and Christy Hanson, plans to open his own coffee shop in a few years, and he got a big boost from HireSmart Cares recently, a $2,500 scholarship to help him get the business off the ground.
"I will use the money for probably equipment," he said. "That takes a lot of the budget. I will probably need a larger espresso machine as well as a register."
Hanson earned the scholarship by winning first place in the 2023 Madico Makers contest put on annually by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Young entrepreneurs in the county make a "Shark Tank" business pitch to a panel of judges. HireSmart awarded the second and third-place winners $1,000 and $500.
This year's winner presented his plans for "Anchors Café."
"I thought of Anchors because it is in the Bible meaning 'hope,'" he said. "I talked about how I would open up and who I would ask for coffee beans, who I would purchase from, and where I would set my shop up when I do."
Hanson initially plans to set up his coffee business within HomeGrown Market in Colbert, Georgia, which offers a variety of homemade items from Madison County and the State of Georgia.
"They need a person to sell sandwiches and beverages," he said. "Once it (Anchors Café) gets larger, I would think about opening up in a different building and hiring."
Hanson, who plans to study business and cooking in college, voiced his appreciation to Mark and Anne Lackey and HireSmart Cares for the scholarship.
"I would say thank you so much for this opportunity," he said. "It's greatly appreciated that you helped me as a young person to become independent and make my business a business."
HireSmart Cares actively promotes young entrepreneurship, job skills development in grade school, and financial literacy so that youth can be prepared to enter the workforce and perhaps start their own businesses directly out of high school. The organization discourages students from saddling themselves with significant college debt without a clear path to pay it off.
Hanson, who has five siblings, said his most popular item is "mainly my frappuccinos," but he said that's not what he typically drinks.
"My favorite is a flat white," he said. "A flat white is where it's mainly just espresso, and milk has barely gotten any foam."