B.S. '10 - Finance
Co-Founder for Abstract Coffee
*Think. Buy. IPFW Alumni Business*
As an avid coffee drinker in college, Cameron wanted to bring the specialty coffee industry back to coffee's roots: quality and simplicity. His company, Abstract Coffee, has spent the past 2+ years working with their local farmers to uniquely develop coffee that is unparalleled in the industry. His company has spent countless hours sourcing their coffee and, in turn, has established unique relationships with farmers throughout South America. Abstract Coffee has perfected the balance between a flavorful and clean cup that is undoubtedly, easy for one's pallet to enjoy. Take a couple of minutes and get to know IPFW Mastodon, Cameron Braun!
Q: How has your degree been beneficial to you and your career?
A: My degree has not only been great in terms of recognition, but in the lifelong relationships that I made during obtaining the degree. During my studies is actually where I met my business partner, Diego Arteaga. We played college tennis together and in between classes is where we created the initial idea for Abstract Coffee. Before starting Abstract Coffee, I had moved to NYC to work as a Buyer for Macy's. My finance degree was also extremely helpful in preparing me with the tools to work in such a heavy analytical career.
Q: How did you become interested in your field?
A: For as long as I can remember I have been interested in entrepreneurship and finance. My dad is a lifelong entrepreneur and I have been fortunate enough to watch and learn from him. When I was very little my dad and uncle had started a cigar company called The Cigar Baron. At that age all I remember thinking was how cool it was he started a cigar company but not really appreciating the steps it actually took to get the product on the market. However, as I grew older I was fortunate enough to learn from my dad all of the hard work and dedication it actually takes to create a functioning business. I always admired his success and knew that becoming an entrepreneur was the best way to mirror that success.
Q: What is the best career advice you were given?
A: I've gotten a ton of great career advice but two pieces of information always stick out to me. The first being that confidence isn't the only thing, its EVERYTHING. It is amazing the things you can accomplish if you are able to display some form of confidence. The second advice is in terms of relationships. When I first moved to NYC after college, I was faced with the challenge that every college graduate is faced with. How do I separate myself from the pack? While being intelligent is essential, being able to create relationships is even more key. In life, it's all about who do you know and who will vouch for you. Too many people are focused on how many Facebook friends they have and not on how many real relationships they have. I try to spend the bulk of my time cultivating relationships because those relationships are ultimately what will catapult your success.
Q: Was there anyone during your time at IPFW who acted as a mentor to you?
A: Dr. Geralyn Miller has become a good friend of mine over the years. I think some professors forget that their main job should be to help you find and start a career. I immediately knew that wasn't the case with Dr. Miller and she had a genuine interest in helping her students. She was always a great resource during school and since graduation we have kept in close contact. I know I can always count on her to have her as a resource for any life or career question I might have.
Q: What course(s) have you found to be most valuable in your professional life?
A: The most beneficial part of the courses I took was the learning opportunity to work with different personality types. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my professional life is properly dealing with certain personalities. I've learned that not everyone you work with will be friendly and nice but that doesn't mean the person isn't worth working with.
Q: What would be your advice to someone who is considering IPFW (either as a new student or a returning adult)?
A: My advice to anyone on choosing a college is to take a great deal of time and come up with a few life goals. Once your goals are set, then match those up with your prospective universities. Fort Wayne is a great city and in the past ten years has changed more than I ever thought possible. Fort Wayne is filled with young talented people who are really eager to help the community grown in its national presence.
Q: What advice would you give to current IPFW students?
A: My advice would be to leverage as many relationships as you can during your time as a student. Go out of your way to make as many contacts as possible. Instead of sending a LinkedIn request, invite that person out for coffee and learn about their background. You never know until you give that person a chance!
Q: Do you have a favorite and/or funny story about your time at IPFW?
A: One of my favorite memories happened at a tennis invitational in Tulsa(OK). I ended up playing a doubles match against the #1 ranked player in Division 1 Tennis. I remember being so nervous and actually fell over when trying to return his serve! It was really embarrassing but definitely fun to look back on and laugh at.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments, both personally and professionally?
A: Personally, my greatest accomplishment has to hopefully been a good influence on my brother and sister. I always hoped that I was just a tiny bit responsible for shaping who they have grown up to be. My brother, Carson, moved out to NYC around the same time I did to attend Fordham University. This summer he will be graduating and starting full-time as an Investment Banking Analyst for Bank of America. My sister, Meredith, just moved to NYC to attend Parsons The New School for Design. I am very proud of what they accomplished and really excited to see where the future takes them. Professionally, my greatest accomplishment has been creating Abstract Coffee. Five years ago when Diego and I first thought of the idea we had no idea how complicated sourcing and importing raw coffee actually is. It is quite amazing how many moving parts are involved just to get a coffee bean into the U.S. There were no shortage of times when we hit roadblocks and weren't sure how to proceed. Thankfully we have a great support system and were able to get through the rough patches. The past year for Abstract Coffee has been truly amazing and we are really excited to see where 2014 take us.
Q: Where do you hope to be in ten years?
A: In ten years I hope to have the same control over my decisions and career as I do today. I hope in ten years that I am still creating new meaningful relationships everyday. I hope that I can look back in ten years and say the decisions I made had a positive impact on someone else.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A:One person that I haven't mentioned is my mom, Linn. I have never met another person who is more universally liked and loved by people than my mom. She is the smartest and most caring person I have ever met and I hope to be remembered in a similar way.