“A failed attempt is far better than living with the regret of not knowing what could have been.“
The really cool thing about the journey to entrepreneurship is there is no cookie-cutter path to get there. There are about as many paths to entrepreneurship as there are grains of sand at the beach. For some, the journey starts off with selling lemonade or mowing lawns. For Baylor student Nathan Hennigh, the journey started with selling avocados from his parents’ trees in his hometown of Inshupu Tanzania.
Nathan called Tanzania and Kenya home for most of his life. He was completely immersed in a world of entrepreneurship. All around him the locals would sell their farm produce or livestock at the nearby markets. He was actually inspired for his first “entrepreneurial gig” of selling avocados after talking to a few village neighbors at the market. After avocados, Nathan dabbled in washing cars and trying to sell local gemstones.
It was when Nathan was away at boarding school that he had his big break in entrepreneurship. At first he sold sodas and snacks out of his dorm room. He would travel an hour to Nairobi to find the best treats to sell in his little dorm room bodega. By Nathan’s senior year, he was able to secure a space on campus that gave students a home base to run a business.
Candy bars were the typical goods sold from the campus space commonly referred to as the “coffee shop.” Nathan had a bigger vision for the space. He wanted to spice things up a bit. First, Nathan gave the space an actual name – Teddy’s – after Teddy Roosevelt, who is credited with building the cornerstone to the boarding school. Second, he arranged for deliveries of coffee and fresh produce from the local farmers. He even brought in fresh juice from a local producer.
But by the time of his high school graduation, Nathan had grown tired of the traditional school setting. He had no desire to continue collegiately. Instead he wanted to give some time to his passion for programming and moved to California to participate in a programming boot camp. After six months, Nathan realized programming wasn’t the passion that he wanted to follow. He found joy in creating, problem solving and exploring new things. He found joy in his passion for entrepreneurship.
In October 2019 Nathan founded Beba with his brother. Beba produces handcrafted products in Kenya. Beba was born out of a need (and maybe a little bit of want) for a unique and functional backpack. That is, after all, the essence of entrepreneurship…see a need or problem and create a way to fix it. Concentrating on the purpose and quality of the end product, the brothers were determined to empower the local craftspeople behind the product. Nathan explains, “Too often the craftspeople of Kenya are extorted and left in the shadows. At Beba, we are intentional to recognize them and their talent, while also providing equitable pay.”
After much deep thought, Nathan realized he actually did want to continue his studies. He wanted to study business, more specifically he wanted to study entrepreneurship. Baylor’s Christian foundation and the fact that the Baylor Entrepreneurship Department is a nationally ranked program made the collegiate decision so easy.
Nathan is truly following his passion at Baylor and he takes every opportunity to soak up the counsel and expertise of his professors. Nathan shares, “The professors in the Baylor Entrepreneurship Department are here for our success and they truly want students to succeed.” He specifically credits Dr. Scheaf, Dr. Grumbles and Dr. Bradley for providing support, encouragement and understanding.
Nathan will graduate in May 2023. Following graduation, he plans to go back to his coffee shop roots and work for Odeko, a company that provides tech services and vendor services to small coffee shops. However, Beba will still be on the front burner. There’s no escaping the entrepreneurial bug. Nathan explains, “You have to chase your dreams and do whatever you can to achieve them.” He continues, “It can be a little scary, but a failed attempt is far better than living with the regret of not knowing what could have been.”
Keep chasing your dreams, Nathan. Sic ‘em!
For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.