ST. JOSEPH, Mo.
Hello Drink Company is the newest addition to the East Hills Shopping Mall's food court.
The stand offers a variety of coffee, teas and drinks that you may expect from a drink stand. What will surprise you is the person behind the company.
Tyler Kirwan is the founder and sole employee of Hello Drink Company. He is also 13 years old and a student at St. Francis Xavier.
Kirwan said many of his customers have a hard time believing that he's in charge.
"First they just think i'm working here. And then they're like, so who runs this? And I say me. How old are you? 13. And they're like, woah! Okay," Kirwan said. "I'm pretty sure I've had some people who don't believe me."
Kirwan said he's always been a fan of coffee (don't worry, he drinks decaf). He planned to open up his own coffee shop when he graduated from college. This past July, he decided he didn't want to wait that long.
Kirwan said his parents helped him to get the business licenses. As of September 23rd, Hello Drink Company was in business.
Not many people can say that their first job was being the boss at their own business. Kirwan's venture even caught the attention of Missouri Western State University's Pam Klaus, director of the entrepreneurial "Franchise Program" through the Craig School of Business.
The Franchise Program is a program for seniors and recent alumni interested in starting their own business. Applicants are able to compete for a chance to jump start their own business with help from MWSU.
"We have our eye on Kirwan," Klaus said. "Kirwan's got a jump start on us, though. I'm hoping that our program will be able to benefit him as he makes a choice to select a college."
"I think I will consider that, yeah. Definitely," Kirwan said of the opportunity. He is also confident that if he were to compete in the Franchise Program someday, he would win.
Kirwan said the business is a lot of work, but interacting with the customers makes it all worth it.
"Making the drinks, saying 'here' and then having them trying it, smiling and liking the drink," Kirwan said.
Hello Drink Company offers a variety of coffees, teas, flavored waters and small snacks.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday only because Kirwan is still in school.
You can follow Hello on Facebook here.
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