Meet JCU Student and Entrepreneur Axel Keicher
Both a student and an entrepreneur, 24-year old Axel Keicher splits his time between studying Communications and helping manage his family’s flower business. Since Axel began at JCU three years ago, he made a name for himself with several front-page articles published in the JCU newspaper The Matthew. Today, Keicher is using his journalistic skills to grow a garden of followers for his company on social media.
What is the business you co-own?
It’s called Piante Keicher, located in Latina, a city about 45 miles from Rome. We are a small, family-owned flower nursery that specializes in potted hibiscus. We mostly sell to wholesalers and other flower nurseries. Although we do not yet sell directly to the public, we plan to in the future.
And, what is your specific role in the company?
While I am in Rome for my studies at John Cabot, I manage Piante Keicher’s social media strategy and website. I check that everything is written correctly when we make brochures, do graphic design work, or contact clients abroad. When I am actually on site in Latina, I do production work as well, like tending to the plants, preparing carts for shipment and pick-up, and processing payments.
How did you get involved with your family’s business?
I went to Germany for eight months after high school, then I studied philosophy at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” for a while. But I really wanted to start supporting myself, so it seemed like a good idea to join the family business.
I really like agriculture; I think it’s beautiful, and to me, farming is one of the best jobs in the world, but it would be difficult to support myself as a farmer in Italy right now. Instead, my job with Piante Keicher still allows me to be part of a rural lifestyle.
Which classes at JCU have helped you to improve as a businessman?
Web Design I and II, Graphic Design, and Business Communications have all helped me to improve my work. Last semester, I took BUS 360 Social Networks and Media Management with Professor Daniele Pica, which is about the study of social media as a medium and marketing tool. Based on what I’d learned, I implemented a new strategy, “#FlowerFriday.” Before the new strategy, our Facebook had been inactive for 3 years, and we only had 23 Likes. Now, we have about 760 Likes and each #FlowerFriday post averages 50-90 Likes. They get shared, and people comment on them. They ask us questions about our hibiscus and tell us what they think about our product.
What brought you to JCU in Spring 2014?
My dream had always been to study in the United States. I love American films and TV shows, and growing up, I had always thought of the U.S. as the promised land. After working full time for Piante Keicher for a little over a year, I decided I wanted to go back to school. John Cabot University presented itself as a great option because it offered an American education, close to home, at an affordable price.
I specifically chose to study Communications because of my interest in journalism. After taking classes in journalism with professors Rosamaria Mancini and Judy Bachrach, two of my articles were published on the front page of The Matthew. I am interested in pursuing journalism further in the future.
What do you like most about JCU?
I really appreciate the American educational system. Here at John Cabot, students are expected not only to learn a concept but to be able to apply it, and that – to me – is how you really learn something: the “hands on” approach.
I also enjoy the community at JCU. Classes are small, so you can get to know your classmates and make good friendships. We are a kind of international village here. You get to experience and confront yourself with so many beliefs and mindsets, and it’s quite refreshing. That’s not easy to find anywhere else.