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Meet Brennan Williams of Grand Canyon Beverage Company (GCBC) in Grand Canyon University

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brennan Williams.

Brennan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As an undergraduate student, I was able to gain valuable experience with the University. First, I was part of a group that early on simply loved to support GCU Athletics. What we did not know, is this would eventually be fostered into the GCU Havocs. We began as freshmen that were very passionate about GCU Athletics, and by my senior year was a group that was beginning to garner national attention. I was grateful to be a part of the early leadership of the group, which got large amounts of support from the school. We grew as the school did, going from 10 crazy people screaming at a game to 2,000 students creating an in-game atmosphere that had top college programs fearing a trip to GCU Arena.

I still love being around the University and continuing to see this group grow, which pushes 3,500 students and now is regarded by many media outlets as a top student section in the country. I was also fortunate enough to be involved in the “Spiritual Life” department here on campus. This group does an unprecedented job of creating and cultivating spiritual leaders on campus, and also getting students involved in areas of West Phoenix to serve and be alongside our neighbors. I made sure to be involved in as many places as possible as a student, and GCU continued to lean on student leaders like myself to grow the University. I humbly brag that there is not another school that gives its students so much opportunity to lead and gets involved in campus activities.

Fast forward to graduation, and really the Lord opened a crazy door. I had just begun enjoying coffee but did not really understand just how important this drink can be to college students. As I graduated, Grand Canyon Beverage Company (Which was nameless) was merely an idea that had been formulated by the Executive team at the University. Dutch Bros. had just declined the opportunity to be the coffee provider on campus, and GCU decided it wanted to create its own brand. The premise was a coffee shop that recent graduates could manage, and would have GCU undergraduate students as baristas. This was unique to other shops that had previously been on campus, and fits a mantra that makes GCU unique; can we give this opportunity to our students? As you guessed, it was decided that this thing could be entirely student-run.

Now, we have two shops that caffeinate our student body to do the awesome things they do every day. We created an energy drink called Stampede, and are looking to open another shop here on campus very soon. In the long-term, we have the goal of branching out and creating locations off-campus. The biggest reason for the success is the students themselves; they think of the great ideas, provide their energy day in and day out, and create an atmosphere other students enjoy. I just make sure to continue to provide them the opportunities like the school did for me and seeing them step up and excel is what makes the position so great!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would say the process has definitely been challenging. This challenge was part of the allure of the position, and I loved the idea of taking this challenge head-on. A lot of people would see the challenge as something negative, but instead, my team and I always saw the opportunity to the challenge. We worked really hard in our first year to make adjustments to better serve the students, and we continue to make changes every day. College students love their caffeine- but we know they also have high standards for their drinks. At GCBC we continue to take ideas and feedback from students on how we can be better!

Grand Canyon Beverage Company (GCBC) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I believe what sets us apart is the students! We hold our team to high standards, and see them as student leaders on campus opposed to food service workers. We expect great time management, communication, and development of other skills that get them ready for life after school. On the beverage side, the Stampede energy drink infusions are quickly becoming our staple. We infuse our energy drink we created with your favorite flavors! This is just one of the many offerings we have to help students excel in their work, study, and play.

I also think our environment plays a large role in who we are. We have an expansive coffee shop that seats plenty, where students can come to read, study, or even just be in community. It is the kind of place you can come to with no plans and run into people you know, and experience the culture that makes GCU so unique. Also, expect great music to be playing at all times!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
The success for us derives on how we well we serve the students. This whole university is here to provide the best experience for students, and as a coffee shop, we play a large role in that. Providing great drinks, life-changing experiences, and being there to help wake people up for 7 AM classes allows us to do that.

We also work to assist the University in its goal to partner alongside the neighboring community and help revive it. Seeing the school grow is important, but seeing the neighboring community prosper is something the University takes equally as serious.

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