Downingtown, PA native, Michael Evans, has called Raleigh his home for the past 4 years. Evans joined the Wolfpack as an engineering major but soon realized big data and statistics were his calling. “I spoke to a professor in the Engineer Department about his research, and he mentioned a project he was doing with the Statistics Department that piqued my interest. I ended up chatting with some people in Statistics and deciding it was what really interested me,” Evans shared.
From Statistics Major to CFO
Evans knew a Statistics major would give him highly sought-after transferable skills, but little did he know it would also open a door to the world of entrepreneurship. Shortly after switching majors and thanks to the Park Scholarships program, Evans met his now co-founders of 321 Coffee. 321 Coffee is a nonprofit coffee shop that provides meaningful work opportunities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Lindsay [co-founder and CEO] had mentioned early on that she had an idea of starting something like 321 Coffee. I expressed that I’d love to get involved, and my involvement with the organization grew very quickly after that,” Evans stated.
“321 Coffee believes in people and what they are capable of… I knew it was a mission I wanted to be part of,” Evans tells us. Now, Evans serves as the Chief Financial Officer at 321 Coffee – and like many small businesses and start-up co-founders, he admits he wears a number of hats for the organization. His day-to-day responsibilities include evaluating new growth opportunities, creating financial models, managing inventory, working on the coffee they produce, keeping the books and even running 321’s social media channels among many other things. “I love getting to evaluate all of the numbers and figure out how to make new growth opportunities possible — that is the most exciting part to me,” Evans shared to no surprise.
Evans will be graduating this August with a Masters in Statistics, which he was able to complete online while helping grow 321 Coffee. “NC State has been a huge resource in helping us get started and grow 321 Coffee. It has connected us with so many great mentors, like Lewis Sheats, Jennifer Capps, Gabe Gonzalez, and Tyler Helikson. It’s provided us funding through the eGames, WolfDen, and the Andrew’s Launch Accelerator. We’ve also been able to meet so many other entrepreneurs in Raleigh and beyond,” Evans acknowledged.
He also gives credit to the practical skills he learned from being a Park Scholar. “The Park Scholarships program has prepared me to be an effective leader, even at a young age.” Evans stated.
The Next Chapter – Miller Fellowship
Evans’s time with NC State is not over yet despite having graduated. Evans is amongst 5 NC State graduates (or recent alumni) to have been accepted to partake in the Miller Fellowship Program. This fellowship offers NC State recent grads a monthly stipend of $750 while the Fellows continue to develop their ideas. The Miller Fellowship runs from June 1-November 30, 2021 and the benefits also include mentorship, continued access to NC State startup spaces, assistance navigating university and community resources as well as access to human capital both inside and outside the university.
Evans leaves us with these words: “I’m excited to put all of my statistics knowledge to the test with real data from 321. We have some growth plans in the works and hope to be able to share soon! I am most excited about being a Miller Fellow because of the fantastic resources NC State can connect us with. Last year, we participated in the Andrew’s Accelerator, and it was a huge help for our growth. We are looking forward to similar opportunities with the Miller Fellowship, along with getting connected to a community of fellow entrepreneurs.”
Connect with Michael Evans on LinkedIn.