Hot Chicken Takeover

The Ohio Start-up rebuilding lives one piece of Fried Chicken at a time.

A millennial entrepreneur hires former inmates and homeless people who struggle to find work even in a strong economy.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—William Camper searched for jobs for six years after being released from an Ohio prison in 2011. He had spent more than a decade behind bars for selling cocaine while battling his own addiction. Even after he got out, he still felt trapped. He interviewed at McDonald’s and signed up with temp agencies that rarely sent him on assignments. He was homeless for a while, struggling to live on $20 a month, and could not pay child support for his 10 kids. Hiring managers would size him up quickly: round face, wire-frame glasses, a butterfly tattoo on his forehead. “Once they see me with tattoos on my face, it’s basically downhill from there,” he recalled.

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