My recent guilty pleasure has been listening to a podcast in which each episode is an interview with a successful entrepreneur and the brain behind multi-million dollar companies. The podcast, called “How I Built This,” always leaves me on a sort of “entrepreneurial high.”
I know I’m not the only one who is inspired by stories of successful, innovative business people who work hard to create and promote their brand. In fact, there are many Taylor students who also have a passion for entrepreneurship and are pursuing it wholeheartedly.
From cutting hair to making lollipops to pouring candles, Taylor’s entrepreneurial atmosphere is booming. Our generation of creatives is sparked with a go-getter fire that leads us to dream of what we can add to this world.
Donna Downs, co-chair of the communication department and advisor for Taylor’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, said students at Taylor are eager to sell their wares and share what they have to offer with the Taylor community. Her team ran the second Shop the Loop event on Mar. 4, which featured booths of many student and faculty entrepreneurs.
“These types of businesses have been at Taylor for a long time, but have never had a place to market themselves before this event,” Downs said. “It is important for students to feel like they have a voice in the marketplace, to be creative and to be entrepreneurs. . . People were amazed and excited by the students and their creativity.”
While dreaming of entrepreneurial ventures is exhilarating, it also comes with a single-story understanding of what successful entrepreneurship looks like. In podcasts and documentaries, we see story after story of the person who poured all of their own money into and spent all of their free time on this magical concept that eventually made them millions.
However, Andrew Fennig, director of Promising Ventures, shared that true entrepreneurship does not (and should not) always look like that. Fennig teaches a class called transformational entrepreneurship and innovation which teaches students about redemptive entrepreneurship.
Fennig now works for a non-profit called Love Justice that was started by Taylor grads which is an international organization working to end human trafficking. Since graduating, Fennig has been helping students understand what it looks like to make an entreprenurial venture into kingdom work.
How can we take each aspect of a new company, brand, business or product and hold them to a standard that is higher than just being ethical? Redemptive entrepreneurship goes above and beyond the normal standards for business and chooses to build upon biblical principles and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Fennig brings in other redemptive entrepreneurs to speak to his class such as Sajan George who founded Matchbook Learning and Polk Capital, both located in Indianapolis. George called students to always be learning and listening fervently to understand where they are called to create. Both Fennig and George understand what success means in the context of God’s calling.
So how do we cultivate our entrepreneurial mindset to be redemptive and centered on Christ? Fennig recommended looking into Praxis Academy, a group specifically geared to teaching budding entrepreneurs about redemptive entrepreneurship. At Taylor, events like Shark Tank and Shop the Loop help to foster that entrepreneurial creativity.
Students can and should take the vision and put it into practice.
“Part of it is having a high comfort level with failure,” Fennig said. “Failure is always a possibility, but that doesn’t have to define us or keep us from taking steps. The more that we can celebrate people — and even their failures — the more we can lower the hurdle to thinking about entrepreneurship and make it doable. We want to demystify the process and encourage people with creativity to go out and do those things.”
This story has been revised 3/12/20 regarding Fennig's role in starting Love Justice.