Hoya Football Players Turned Coffee Entrepreneurs

By: Julia Greenzaid

How Three Georgetown Students are Redefining the Energy Drink Game Sip by Sip

It’s 8AM on a Tuesday morning. While most of us are guzzling caffeine to keep our eyes open, some Hoyas are finishing practice – the men of your very own Georgetown Football team, to be exact. While being active this early might seem impossible to some of us, it is hardly the most impressive thing these students do: some make the transition from athletes to entrepreneurs in the blink of an eye – and successful entrepreneurs at that.

On the field, quarterback Kyle Nolan (MSB ’16) throws perfect spirals to wide receivers Jake DeCicco (MSB ’16) and Harry Glor (NHS ’16). Off the field, the three seniors successfully apply the same teamwork and ambition to the business world via their startup brand of organic protein-packed coffee, Sunniva Caffe.


As athletes with enervating schedules, the boys sought a drink that would provide them energy without the crash that comes along with most of the current energy drinks and coffees they consumed. When they learned of DeCicco’s brother Jordan’s protein energy drink recipe, they knew it was a product strong enough to take the market by storm. Hence their decision to become businessmen themselves and launch Sunniva Caffe.

According to the boys, the foundation of their success so far boils down to teamwork. “We naturally learned how to transition from business to fun through football,” says DeCicco, who serves as Sunniva Caffe’s Chief Operations Officer. “There’s a time when Kyle has to be quarterback, and as much as I want him to throw me the ball, I know that he has to do whatever play is best to achieve the team’s goal. Whether it be in football or with Sunniva, we are all going for the same goal—which makes working together easier.”

For those of you craving a little more knowledge on the drink itself, we had Glor, Head of Sales, give us the lowdown on what sets Sunniva apart from the rest of the market: “Sunniva has MCTs, a medium-sized chain of fats correlated with higher brain function,” he says. “The MCTs are responsible for an extended energy boost that can be described as feeling focused instead of jittery. The drink is made of 100% Columbian coffee, and contains 130 calories and 10 grams of protein per serving.”

“When we have it on hand we drink it religiously,” said Nolan, Head of Operations. “Ideally I’d drink it every day after morning practice and be set energy-wise for the rest of the day.”

Not only does Sunniva Caffe provide the endurance boost that a standard cup of coffee does not, but it can also act as a meal replacement. “I think that’s the coolest thing about the product,” says Glor. “For the person who doesn’t want to eat a big breakfast but still wants to get the protein and fats they need to get through the day, Sunniva Caffe has a nutritious element to it that standard coffee does not.” DeCicco recommends a Sunniva and a banana for a “balanced breakfast that will keep you full until lunch.”

Image courtesy of Sunniva Caffe
Image courtesy of Sunniva Caffe

During NSO this year, the boys decided to test out the likeability of their product with a free sample giveaway. The 400 samples were long gone in only forty-five minutes, and the team received only positive feedback from the samplers. This successful test-drive reinforced the potential the boys saw in their product.

“In addition to positive customer feedback, we are getting advice from professionals like the creators of Sweet Green, Campbell Soup, and Jaime Vasquez [GRD ‘89], Hoya and former COO of Pepsico, the company that launched Starbucks’ Frappuccino,” says DeCicco.

“The Georgetown university network has done wonders for us,” Nolan chimes in. “So many people want to help us, just because we are Hoyas like them.”

Jump on the Hoyas supporting Hoyas bandwagon and give Sunniva Caffee a go –Sunniva will be available in Whole Foods starting this month, as well as Hilltoss, MUG, Uncommon Grounds, and Midnight Mug later this fall. Check out their site, www.sunnivacaffe.com, for more information on flavors and future online order placement!

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