by Sam Bertholf
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – As four Bethel College students launched into their first joint business venture, the success of their Kickstarter® campaign indicates they might be on to something.
Seniors Austin Mitchell, Plano, Texas, Brian Krehbiel, Donnellson, Iowa, and Grant Walker, Newton, and junior Chase Banister, Douglass, started a small company called I Have Purpose. Technically, it’s an apparel company, but the T-shirts and wristbands are meant to “elevate life for all.”
“We want to [spread] the message that everyone was made for a God-given purpose,” Mitchell says. “Everyone has a talent and passion … they need to explore to have more fulfillment in their lives.”
Krehbiel calls it “a social movement and an online business.” In addition to the T-shirts and wristbands, I Have Purpose is about creating inspirational videos and testimonials.
“We want to inspire ordinary people to add more to their lives [and] do more to elevate the lives of others,” he says.
After the group got some free publicity thanks to be featured on a news broadcast of Wichita television station KSN, the group was delighted to see their initial Kickstarter® goal of $10,000 smashed, with more than $12,000 raised.
I Have Purpose was initially Mitchell’s brainchild.
“I felt that God put it on my heart to start [the company],” he says. He also drew inspiration from his own family.
Mitchell’s brother Allen has Down Syndrome, and benefits from an organization called HEROES in Richardson, Texas, that helps people with special needs learn and practice life and job skills. I Have Purpose will donate 10 percent of its profits to HEROES.
Allen Mitchell is “fairly independent,” holding two jobs in local restaurants, says his brother. “I want people to know that [those] with special needs have purpose and can contribute to society,” Austin Mitchell says.
Krehbiel, who has studied graphic design at Bethel, was working at getting his own video production going when Mitchell approached him for help with spreading the message of “a life driven by purpose.”
They decided to join forces and draw in two more friends and fellow business majors.
“I help manage our content, designs and [message ideas],” Mitchell says. “I also contact others to spread the message and make sales.”
“I just do the [video] editing, and help with video and T-shirt ideas,” Krehbiel says. Mitchell adds, “Brian is a genius with making our videos and coming up with creative content.”
Walker is the money expert, managing the business’s finances, while Banister has been described as the staff “spark plug.”
“I help with producing video content, T-shirt and video ideas – basically just do whatever needs done,” he says.
So far, they have bought some used printing equipment and spent time experimenting with logos and designs to come up with their first one – a plain white shirt with the words “I have purpose” printed in white on a black band.
They developed their company website, www.ihavepurpose.com, and produced a short video, using Bethel students and campus sites, to explain their philosophy and mission.
Future plans include continuing to design T-shirts (with each new design intended to have “a backstory that relates to and represents an aspect of our message … of purposeful, inspired living”), creating more videos and planning a schedule of visits to other college campuses in the region.
.All four are deeply dedicated to enlarging their movement, believing theirs is an important message for people to hear.
“This topic was necessary, because it lets people know that God wants us all to live life with purpose,” Mitchell says. “I feel like sometimes people only go through the motions of life, when we all have an opportunity to make a positive impact in our world.
“I want us to spread the message that we all need to live with purpose – to encourage others to live for God.”
Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2016'17 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.
Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.