Startup competition’s fireside chats create connections

The Biola Entrepreneurship Society helps students connect with Christian business owners.


Mikaila Oh // THE CHIMES

Students listen during talks with the entrepreneur.

Maria Weyne, Staff Writer

As the startup competition approaches, the Biola Entrepreneurship Society has begun its recurring series called “Fireside chat with an entrepreneur.” The chats are intended to be a personal way for students of any major to connect with Christian entrepreneurs in order to learn more about their own ideas and create contacts. The series brings in owners of faith-based businesses to give students a timeline of how to create a business that is successful. 

The fireside chats occur in conjunction with the Startup Competition and its workshops. The competition is aimed towards allowing students to put their ideas into practice by creating a business for the first time. The workshops occur throughout the competition to guide students in things like creating a team and writing a business plan.


Director of strategic initiatives Bob Harp believes that having these chats alongside the workshops create a more comfortable atmosphere between the students and the speakers. The chats also serve as a way to create contacts with successful business owners. 

 “A fireside chat is going to be somebody coming and saying ‘Here’s my story,’” Harp said. “We want [the speakers] to be transparent.”

The Biola Entrepreneurship Society’s President and sophomore business major Nathanya Zapata says the events are open to every major. 

“You don’t have to be a business person in order to be an entrepreneur,” she said.

The society plans to send out a survey for students to request speakers and be more involved in the chats. 

Associate professor of business Jeff McHugh said the talks are a great space for meeting new people, allowing students to connect with people who think differently. 

“[I want to] really encourage them to try and build teams with people that are not like them,” McHugh said. “Diverse teams, where we don’t fall into ‘groupthink,’ are much stronger.”

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