While working abroad in the coffee industry, Michael Rice and his wife befriended several refugees who would come into the coffeeshop after a workday. From that experience, he became passionate about addressing the global refugee crisis in his own way. Fast-forward a few years later: Michael opened a coffee roasting company in Chattanooga that employs refugees called Mad Priest Coffee.
In 2016, Michael came to CO.LAB for CO.STARTERS after a successful Kickstarter campaign, which allowed him to purchase the necessary equipment for roasting. However, the funds gained from the campaign were not enough to open a brick-and-mortar business. CO.LAB later worked with him to obtain a small startup loan through our partnership with Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s Idea Leap program.