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Loco Cocoa turns business project into hot chocolate pick-me-up

Maddy Munoz, a Loco Cocoa organizer, serves hot chocolate to UNC students Eileen Yang and Parker Novack at the Student Union on Tuesday morning. 

Maddy Munoz, a Loco Cocoa organizer, serves hot chocolate to UNC students Eileen Yang and Parker Novack at the Student Union on Tuesday morning. 

Knowing that the November days will turn colder, a group of first-year students developed a unique business plan to address the seasonal and early morning needs of students walking to class, while also raising money for charity.

Loco Cocoa is the creation of first-years Chris Oldham, Jason Cowan, Maddy Munoz and Drew Icenhour. Paired together in a Foundations of Leadership business course, the students had to bring an enterprise model to life, and their ideas led them to selling hot chocolate in the Pit for $1 and an array of toppings for 50 cents. They plan to do this every Tuesday and Thursday morning throughout November.

“We decided as the weather was changing, this was a perfect time to start a hot chocolate bar because the weather would get colder and the days shorter, and people on their way to class might just want to adjust to the changing seasons and have a nice cup of hot chocolate,” Oldham said.

The inspiration for Loco Cocoa was providing for the campus community.

“We wanted to bring something good to campus," Munoz said. "Something happy."

Each group in their class, taught by assistant professor Shimul Melwani, was allotted $50 to start their business with one key element in mind. All proceeds go to their charity of choice, after the entire class raises money and votes together.

“Our goal is really just to raise as much money as we can to donate for a nonprofit of the business school's choice,” Cowan said. “Our other goal is to just really help people on their way to their 8 a.m., just to start their morning off right. You're already getting up early for class, so why not have that little kick of energy, or maybe our positive vibe will help on their way to class.”

Tuesday was Loco Cocoa’s first day selling hot chocolate to students, and while they were moved to the Carolina Union due to threat of rain, the group plans to have the Pit as their primary location and raise funds upward of $100 for charity, Cowan said. In the quest to raise this money, Cowan believes the personal touch of those involved with Loco Cocoa will make all the difference.

“What makes us unique? Definitely the people behind the hot chocolate,” Cowan said. “We're some pretty upbeat people ... I don't think any other hot chocolate place would beat our prices as well or the assortment of toppings.”

Beyond the benefits Loco Cocoa supplies to students and charity, Oldham said it also showcases an example of what first-year students can achieve.

“It’s good to show that we're just first-years, but we're starting this business, and hopefully it will be pretty successful,” Oldham said. “It's nonprofit. Also, we're selling our stuff for just a really cheap price. The idea isn't to just make a ton of money, even though that kind of is a secondary thing. We just want to spread as much as possible, to get as many people drinking our hot chocolate as we can.”

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