Secular and Sacred: How Faith Inspired Business in the Great Outdoors

Faith gets dismissed a lot in this day and age, but for those who believe in God, whatever their religion, a true love of the Almighty is an inspiring mechanism from which to launch a business.

Indeed, a faith-inspired business is what Greg McEvilly set out to do after he started his path toward the ministry and then realized he had a knack for entrepreneurialism.

McEvilly combined his faith with his go-getter instinct and launched a company to inspire people to adventure and life-affirming experiences.

Watch More Stories From To Whom Is Given: Business For the Common Good.

Kammok, based in Austin, produces outdoor items like climbing gear, hammocks, and tents. But it’s more than just the products. McEvilly said he was interested in the way the business could “have a transformative impact on a broader scale.” Adventure never seemed so epic.

“We want to use adventure very strategically to help produce something greater in people, so we hope that adventure produces humility, curiosity and wonder,” McEvilly said.

Watch More Stories From To Whom Is Given: Business For the Common Good.

The customer transaction is just the beginning of the cycle.  Travis Perkins, who manages customer experience, says that the products are not the endpoint but rather that the company is “an outpost that is equipping and inspiring and moving the mind.”

McEvilly said business is as good a means of sharing the word because it is not limiting communications with like-minded people. Instead, customer interaction means dealing with people with a diverse set of beliefs.

And even though McEvilly’s name has “evil” in the middle, we couldn’t think of a nicer guy to get people off the couch and into creation.

The story of Kammok is part of a new documentary called “To Whom is Given,” which looks at how businesses can help the common good. Click here to learn more about Greg McEvilly and “To Whom Is Given.”

Startup Nation: A Ranking of Cities and States With New Entrepreneurs

Americans are very bad at giving up. Fortunately.

America has rebounded to become a startup nation: posting its fifth most entrepreneurial year in two decades.

The Kauffman Foundation, which recently released the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, found that 30 states have higher levels of new business activity over 2015, and 23 out of 40 metro areas experienced an increase in startup activity. That’s after a two-decade low in 2014.

Reviewing the number of start-ups in high- and low-density states, the index found that Texas led the way among the 25 largest states, followed by Florida, California, New York and Colorado. The highest startup activity in the smallest 25 states were in Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Alaska.

Across large cities, Austin, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas saw the highest number of startups while the largest positive shifts among cities were in Orlando, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Nashville, Detroit, and San Francisco.

New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, New York, and Georgia saw the largest rank increase in new startups in large states, while Oregon, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Nebraska, Arkansas and Rhode Island made the greatest ranking increase among low-population states.

The rankings were determined by evaluating the percent of adults becoming entrepreneurs in a given month; the number who were driven by an opportunity, rather than necessity; and the growth of startups that employed at least one person besides the owner in the past year. The data are pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Though new startup activity is still below its peak of a generation ago, the growth of opportunity-driven startups is a good sign, in part because entrepreneurship affects “the well-being of every human on this tiny planet.”

“(E)ntrepreneurship should not be a privilege of the few. Indeed, one of the most powerful things about entrepreneurship is its universality. All communities, cities, and states can become “ecosystems” of entrepreneurial innovation to generate new businesses and jobs,” wrote Victor W. Hwang, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, who led the study.

Larger states that saw negative shifts in their ranking for new startups were Illinois, Louisiana, South Carolina, Colorado,  and Massachusetts while smaller states a drop in their ranking were Utah, Vermont, Maine, Kentucky, Alaska, Idaho, Delaware, and Connecticut.

Metros that experienced the biggest negative shift in rank were Virginia Beach, Chicago, Sacramento, Seattle, Indianapolis, and San Antonio.

Read the entire 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity.

The Insanity of Occupational Licensing — $1,537 for a Shoe Shine Permit

TPOH has long been on the case of the red tape created by occupational licensing (and one of our heroes is Melony Armstrong, who took on her state’s rules and won). It seems to be a constant uphill battle, but two senators are hoping to create a model for states to follow to reduce the obstacles entrepreneurs face as a result of occupational licensing rules.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who has made it a mission to eliminate unnecessary occupational licensing laws — one of the few areas where the states really exceed the federal government when it comes to regulatory barriers — has been working with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on legislation to address one small area of occupational licensing — dealing with rules in Washington, D.C., where the federal government has some legislative oversight.

Sasse and Lee’s ALLOW Act would reduce occupational licensing rules in the nation’s capital to “only to those circumstances in which it is the least restrictive means of protecting the public health, safety or welfare,” reports The Weekly Standard.

The senators appear motivated in part by stories like the one told by an American University freshman who decided to go shine some shoes to help pay for expenses associated with attending one of America’s elite universities.

Before heading down to the street, the student said he double-checked online about vendor rules in D.C., and was shocked to learn that he would have to pay $1,537 in permitting and licensing fees, not to mention other arbitrary compliance laws, which included 83 pages of rules for sidewalk shoe shines. The student noted that if he didn’t get the fees — and wait six months for the permit!! — he could be fined $2,000.

Not much in the way of encouraging work.

The states would have to follow with their own revisions, but as Melony Armstrong has noted, her fight in Mississippi resulted in paperwork and permitting reductions not only in her state, but in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and Utah.

Read more about Sens. Sasse and Lee’s occupational licensing reduction act.