By Clara Lincicome | Reporter
During a summer internship with a startup company, Keller senior Dillon Fontaine said he experienced the pressures of juggling multiple responsibilities when taking over such a large role. Though he looked for resources to help him, Fontaine was not able to find any that were centered around real people’s stories. He came back to Baylor in the fall ready to meet a need that other entrepreneurs face daily.
Fontaine connected with Charlie Doebbler, a recent Baylor graduate from Lakewood, Colo., because of Doebbler’s experience being the chief operating officer of his own software company, Inventire.
“I tapped him, and I said ‘Hey, why don’t we create a podcast?,’” Fontaine said. From there, Venturing Out, a biweekly podcast that can be found on all major listening platforms, was born.
The episodes consist of three-part interviews with entrepreneurs that have found success despite the winding road of failure and adaptivity that inevitably comes with the uncertainty of entrepreneurship.
In the episodes, entrepreneurs share their stories, the trials they have faced and what they have learned, providing insight into instances entrepreneurs may encounter.
Fontaine emphasized the importance of building community among entrepreneurs, which ignited the motto of Venturing Out: “Entrepreneurs serving entrepreneurs.”
“Community, we believe, begins with sharing stories,” Fontaine said. “It’s a difficult field. You have to wear so many hats. You are running into problems all the time. What’s important in entrepreneurship is not just the business, but the community.”
Doebbler said he would have benefitted from a resource like Venturing Out, saying it could have saved him three months of developing time for his software company.
“It would have been extremely helpful because when you’re an entrepreneur, especially a student entrepreneur, you’re doing things by the seat of your pants,” Doebbler said. “That’s what Dillon and I were trying to do when we were developing [Venturing Out]. If we can help one entrepreneur, save them three months of developing time, we [would consider that] a success.”
In addition to founders Fontaine and Doebbler, Venturing Out includes three other team members: Grace Smith, director of media, Paige McClelland, director of operations and Trey Riedle, director of content. With Baylor as its launching point, the team of five people intends to utilize the resources of Baylor and Waco while also aiming to extend its reach past the city.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff going on just at Baylor and in Waco,” Doebbler said. “Moving forward, if we could bring on some high-profile guests, we would certainly not be opposed to that, but we definitely started with Baylor and Waco in mind.”
In terms of content, Venturing Out plans to cover many topics regarding entrepreneurship. Their first three-part series was with Frisco sophomore Ellie Meinershagen, whom Fontaine described as a “lighthouse for success.” The episode that features her detailed student entrepreneurship through Meinershagen’s experiences with her earring business, Acute Accents.
Their next series aims to tackle serial entrepreneurship, which is when an entrepreneur will get their business to where it can self-sustain and then hand off their duties or exit from the company. They hope to convey that “you don’t have to be stuck to one venture your entire time as an entrepreneur,” Fontaine said.
Venturing Out is also working on a series with an executive from a Global 100 company and has additional interviews on deck.
“By listening to other entrepreneurs and how they handled certain business issues, that’ll help [the listener] be a better entrepreneur and business person,” Fontaine said. “We want our listeners to walk away saying, ‘I learned something valuable that I want to implement in my business.’”
Smith, a The Woodlands sophomore, is brand new to the business school, saying she switched her major last semester. She emphasized the value this experience has brought her, and she looks up to the whole Venturing Out team.
“It’s been super neat to learn about entrepreneurship as a whole and see how they operate as students and leaders within the business school,” Smith said. “I’ve been trying to stay quick on my feet to pick it all up.”
Fontaine described entrepreneurship as a field that is “trial by fire” and said “being tossed into the fire develops you more quickly than if you were to learn it in a classroom or learn it at a gradual pace, it is one of the best learning experiences we can have as students.”
“Baylor is the number seven entrepreneurship program in the nation, yet they didn’t have a podcast, and they didn’t have an entrepreneurship club. And all that changed this year,” Fontaine said. “It’s cool to be the five that bring that to Baylor, and hopefully we’ll see that live on.”