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Lyon senior to start his own business after graduation

Two years ago, Zachary Stewart, ‘19, was a nursing student at a state university with a need for stout coffee. Now graduating from Lyon College with his B.S. in business administration, he’s opening his own coffee shop in Batesville, Nova Joe’s.

Before transferring to Lyon to play football, Stewart discovered a drive-through coffee shop that served as the inspiration for his business.

“I actually started working with them to originally open [a coffee shop] as a franchise,” he said.

That changed following an entrepreneurship class in which the final exam was a business pitch competition hosted by Enactus, an on-campus entrepreneurship organization. Local investors came to hear the students’ pitches, which proved pivotal.

“It helped me really realize that [Nova Joe’s] was actually achievable,” Stewart said. “[During the pitch,] I had three or four people say, ‘what’s the benefit to [a franchise] as opposed to opening your own?’ Unless it’s a big brand… It [isn’t] really that big of a payoff.”

Soon after, one of those investors, Frank Tripp, called Stewart to offer land and materials to help build the business.

“A week later, I called him back and said ‘I want to do this,’” Stewart said, whose first order of business was to secure a loan from First Community Bank in Batesville.

“When I went to the bank, and I told them I was from Lyon, you wouldn’t believe the difference that made,” he said.

Then, with the help of Lyon’s business law professor, Dr. Leigh King, Stewart finalized Nova Joe’s LLC on March 14, and construction began in April.

Stewart has not only started his own business, but he is also building it.

“I asked [Tripp] for a timeline and it was way off, and I said, ‘well, what if I came and helped?’ I would like to try and open more in the future if I could. If I can go ahead and learn how to do this, I can do it myself.”

Nova Joe’s will have two windows, serving two cars at a time. However, Stewart plans to incorporate line-busting, a concept he says is not seen anywhere in town.

“If there’s a long line, we’ll send people out like three cars back, so we can actually do four cars at a time,” he explained. “Nobody else in town currently does that.”

Stewart wants to be involved in the community, and Nova Joe’s is his way to help out. He plans to serve coffee at Southside and Batesville football games, donate to the schools’ band programs, and hold later hours during college exam weeks.

Nova Joe’s is expected to open at the end of May. For more information, visit the Nova Joe’s Coffee Facebook page.