Hector Carvajal thrives on the hustle. He doesn’t know what else to do.
He witnessed it firsthand while growing up in the Dominican Republic, and then again when he was eight years old and his family relocated to the Bronx borough of New York City. His mother’s first job in the United States was cleaning tables at McDonald’s, and his father was a cab driver. Carvajal saw people selling candy on subways and at school as a teen and decided to try it himself.
“We go for it” as an immigrant family, he tells CNBC Make It. “It’s a sense of hunger and drive. We didn’t bring anything, so we’re trying to make something.”
That drive led him to study business marketing at the University of Rochester, where he turned a class project into a real business in 2019. He took a year off from college, with one year left to graduate, to devote his full attention to it.
Today, the 26-year-old runs Don Carvajal Cafe, a South Bronx coffee roasting company that sources its beans from the Dominican Republic.