Business competition kickstarts entrepreneurship minor

Through the startup competition and a newly introduced minor, the Crowell School of Business encourages students to develop faith-based startups.

Brittany Ung, News Editor

Crowell School of Business is looking for the next Chick-fil-A. The school kicked off its fifth annual startup competition Monday night, aimed at promoting Christians in entrepreneurship.

The kickoff event was the first night of the competition and students have until Nov. 25 to register their ideas. Monday night’s event featured keynote speaker Danny Kim, founder and chief technology officer of FullArmor Corporation, a cloud security firm. Kim described some of his greatest accomplishments: graduating from Cornell University, securing a deal with Walmart and leading a team of junior high and high school students to win an international underwater robotics competition. Yet, Kim’s presentation highlighted the role of prayer and deference to God’s will over his own work. 

“Failure is a part of life,” he said at the event. “We probably experience more failure than we do success. I can contend that it is through failure that God can intervene more.”

Kim’s business began in college, where he and his friends set out to run a business based solely on Christian principles. The idea worked, and today FullArmor has served over 30 Fortune 100 companies.

“I don’t see any other way of running a company, than with Christian principles,” he said. 


Competitors will spend the next few months forming a team, working with a mentor and attending workshops in order to hone their ideas into a fully formed business plan. In March, the top six teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, who will disperse the prize money between the best of the six. 

This year’s competition will alternate between hosting workshops and fireside talks with notable entrepreneurs.

“The goal is for undergraduate and graduate students in all nine schools at Biola to embrace innovation — as a way of thinking,” director of strategic initiatives Robert Harp said in an email. “And the vision is that Biola students and graduates would be known globally for academic excellence, spiritual maturity and Christ honoring innovative thinking.” 


The success of the startup competition is among the factors that led the Crowell School of Business to introduce a new entrepreneurship minor. In addition to the competition, the school recently began hosting Praxis Academy, a conference that explores the integration of Christian faith in business. 

“There was a lot of excitement around the idea of entrepreneurship startup,” said David Bourgeois, associate dean for undergraduate programs at Crowell. “And we started hearing Biola alumni saying, ‘Finally, someone’s taking the idea of startup seriously in the Christian context.’”

The school’s foray into Christian entrepreneurship sparked enthusiasm in the business community, which led to the creation of the entrepreneurship minor. The program, which can also be selected as a concentration for business majors, started this school year. 


According to professor of marketing Laureen Mgrdichian, the entrepreneurship minor aims to promote creative problem solving, giving would-be entrepreneurs a safe space to try new things—and even to fail. 

“Those failures are huge for entrepreneurs,” she said. “What they learn from it and how they then parlay that into other ideas.” 

Biola’s entrepreneurship program will be unique because the school is not planning to hire a full-time entrepreneurship professor. Instead, Bourgeois plans to bring in successful entrepreneurs to lead classes through relationships established by the startup competition.

“We are planning on the professors teaching the classes being people who have done it,” Bourgeois said. “The only way you learn entrepreneurship is by doing it.”

Bourgeois said the startup competition and entrepreneurship program are not about creating the best business. Instead, the school hopes that it can encourage students to enter the marketplace of ideas with businesses founded on Christian principles.

“A lot of people don’t think business can be a ministry, but obviously we do,” Bourgeois said. 

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