Ask More: Grounds & Hounds

By Christine Cox | Fall 2014

“My first mission was saving animals, and to do that I wanted a product that’s not too expensive, that’s attainable to everybody, and with an easy turnover for larger distribution and smaller donations.”

Jordan Karcher (MBA ’15) isn’t sure why he pulled over to a rescue dog adoption event a few years ago. He had been on his way to grab breakfast before a weekend of moving into a new place.

“The last thing I was thinking about was getting a dog,” he says. “I was very, very busy. But I stopped. And this one puppy, a brown-and-white Dalmatian, just crawled over to me. She was malnourished and super skinny. She crawled onto my lap and put her nose in my jacket. I adopted her on the spot.”

He gained an inseparable companion. “I can’t imagine my life without Molly,” he says. “And adopting her really got me involved with animal rescue. There are too many animals put to sleep, and I just got really interested in finding a solution.”

That solution ended up being organic, fair-trade coffee. Karcher started Grounds & Hounds Coffee Company in March 2014.

Launching his company just six months after entering the MBA program was challenging, but Karcher wouldn’t have it any other way. “The idea that 2.1 million dogs would be euthanized while I was waiting for a ‘better time’ was not something I could allow to happen,” he says.

Plus, he found tremendous support at Notre Dame, especially from Chris Stevens (’74), an adjunct management professor and cofounder of Keurig coffee systems. “He told me, ‘I love your idea. You should definitely do it.’ He gave me contacts in the coffee industry,” Karcher says. “The fact that he helped me push my business forward meant everything. It really speaks volumes about the professors here.”

Karcher is finding business ownership exhilarating and humbling. “I am learning and making mistakes every day. However, the support and encouragement that I have received make everything a lot easier. Plus, every time I look at Molly, she reminds me why we do what we do.”