OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Ben Cloud, a junior at Shawnee Mission North High School, started Clouds Coffee Company three months ago.
What started out as a school assignment, quickly turned into a small business.
Cloud focuses on serving fresh and organic coffee that is handpicked by small farmers around the world.
“Back in sophomore year I took three or four business classes with Mr. Fothergill, and then I just kind of fell in love with the process,” Cloud said.
He made a connection with a roastery out in California. After a year of research, testing and developing a design, Cloud launched his business online and found local partnerships. One of them has been his school’s student cafe - Brickhouse Coffee.
“I really love the connections and friendships that you are able to make, kind of, over a cup of coffee,” Cloud said.
Novelty and grit has been the perfect blend to kick start his entrepreneurship. Cloud's motivation to start his own company came partly from his grandfather, Steve.
Cloud grew up watching him operate his own industrial distribution company.
“He’s always been kind of my best friend for as long as I can remember,” Cloud said. “He’s been really proud and really supportive. It just came from an idea and it’s now an actual business.”
His biggest advice, to young adults who are hoping to start their own business, is to remember age is only a number.
“Definitely just stay persistent with what you want and don’t let your age come between that,” Cloud said.
Business teacher, Cody Fothergill, says Cloud stood out in class. He hopes Cloud’s success can pave the way for other students.
“You know, he’s 16 years old, and he’s got this thing rolling," Fothergill said. "Hopefully other students can say ‘Well, I can do that too’."
Cloud hopes to secure a retail space, grow his business and create roots in Kansas City - the community that helped raise him.
“My family is here, my friends are here, and you know it’s kind of, it’s home to me,” Cloud said.
A portion of his proceeds will always head to an organization dear to his heart as well - the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.
"Suicide has affected my family,” Cloud said. “I’m blessed with what I do, and I want to give back to others that face the same problems and go through the same thing that lots of other teenagers do."
Brickhouse Coffee, that carries Clouds Coffee Company, is open every morning for 30 minutes.