Hajo Engelke is an entrepreneur who started a great company called of Custom Choice Cereal. Customers can create their individual cereal from a variety of entirely gluten-free ingredients. I had the good fortune of photographing him today on behalf of the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative.
The Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative (CEI) is all about entrepreneurial spirit. It is an $11 million program funded in part by The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, managed by the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and led by faculty and staff across the university from an array of disciplines.
This program gives birth to new entrepreneurs all the time. It takes business students and pairs them with successful entrepreneurs, many of them Carolina alumni. They serve as advisors to the students, lending their real–world expertise. I love watching this program as I too, am an entrepreneur and know what kind of resolve and ingenuity it takes to choose the path less traveled.
I have been fortunate to work with Cyndy Falgout on a series of ads about C.E.I. that have been appearing in The Carolina Alumni Review. Below are photos of Hajo at his new company that I am sure is destined for greatness.
Here is what Cyndy Falgout had to say about Hajo:
Hajo Engelke is a numbers guy. That and a degree in finance landed him in mergers and acquisitions at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.
That’s where Engelke discovered he was also an entrepreneur. Surrounded by high-powered CEOs who’d risked a lot and made it big, Engelke says, “I knew then that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the decision-maker, the one who makes it happen.”
German-born Engelke looked to the U.S. East Coast to find a leading school of entrepreneurship. He found one at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, enrolled in its MBA Program, and pursued concentrations in entrepreneurship and investment finance.
At Kenan-Flagler, Engelke found “lots of professors who are also successful entrepreneurs, who know what to do from experience not just from their research.” He found much more.
Thanks to the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative (CEI), Engelke found cross-campus venture-creation programs and a network of people engaged in helping aspiring entrepreneurs hone their ideas for new businesses and nonprofits into viable action plans to create them.
Two of them, Launching the Venture and Carolina Challenge, took Engelke step-by-step to define his niche and develop his business plan.
“This is what I want to,” says Engelke, smiling, from the Research Triangle Park office of his new venture, Custom Choice Cereal. “Without the networks I’ve built through UNC’s entrepreneurship programs, this business would not be possible.”
Here are the past ads for Caroline Entrepreneurial Initiative. They are all designed by the talented Linda Noble.