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Campus Y-CUBE leads Carolina’s social innovation ventures

In 2012, the Campus Y established CUBE, a social innovation accelerator. CUBE offers 24/7 co-working space, seed funding, and professional mentoring. Young entrepreneurs receive training on topics ranging from business planning and human-centered design to lean start-up methodology and social marketing. Since its start, there have been 52 businesses that CUBE  has spun out creating more than 100 jobs.  Using the premise of “for students, by students,” this venture is completely student-operated — from the chief marketing officer to the baristas; in 2018, three UNC students worked with CUBE to found the Meantime Coffee Co.

The concept began when Keegan McBride ’17 explored the possibility of opening a student-run café and a new community hub on campus. A member of the Campus Y executive board, he pitched the idea to Lauren Eaves ’18, a member of the Campus Y’s first-year council, and Scott Diekema ’19. Within months, the team developed a vision of what this food-service initiative could look like. They enrolled in the CUBE incubator program and learned to draft business proposals, and attended workshops on budgeting and how to pitch the venture to administrators. 

When fully operational, the café would serve about 400 customers each day from its location in the Campus Y lobby. The business is a North Carolina nonprofit, and UNC’s only student-run coffee shop. Through partnerships with CUBE ventures such as the Sonder Market, which sells locally sourced food to combat food insecurity on campus, Meantime advances the missions of other social impact ventures that got their start at Carolina. 

For Lauren, a Morehead-Cain Scholar from London who is studying environmental health, the experience of founding this venture has been invaluable. 

“The main thing I’ve learned is [that] building a team, having passionate, enthusiastic, intelligent and capable people around you is the way you get anything done and the way to change anything. To me, that is what’s inspiring about the Campus Y. It’s an environment where students who are passionate, capable, creative and intelligent can come together and are given the resources to act on that.” 

Gifts to this fund help staff the program, provide seed funding for ventures and provide high-quality workshops for CUBE ventures and Carolina students wanting to elevate their social impact. Learn more about the CUBE.

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