Durham College’s Enactus team scored a big win at the Enactus Regionals Exposition earlier this month.
Their project, Founders Drive, is a podcast that began as a startup aimed at telling the stories of young entrepreneurs that have faced barriers, overcome obstacles – racism, agism, sexism, any sort of discrimination and disability – and did it anyways.
Many journalism and business students worked for months to prepare to present the podcast, leading up to the Regionals Exposition.
Tammy Raycraft, a podcast producer and host as well as one of the EnactusDC presenters, was a part of the student-led team that presented the project to the judges.
“The presentation went off without a hitch,” said Raycraft. “We spoke directly to the judges – and to see their reaction to the video, to what we did, to what we had to say – was amazing.”
The goal of the podcast is to inspire people to consider entrepreneurship.
“Too many people look at an entrepreneur as Jeff Bezos, where we’re trying to show that’s not your average entrepreneur,” Raycraft said. “That’s not what an authentic voice of entrepreneurship is.”
Deidra Clarke, also a producer and host of the podcast, is launching her own business with the help of the Founders Drive team. Her brand, D.I.A. Tribe, is a clothing line with an accessible pocket for type 1 diabetics to put their pump or supplies.
Clarke has tried to start her business multiple times in the past but faced roadblocks every time. Now, the hoodie she designed is almost at the prototype stage.
She has been working with Jay Fisher, a professor in the Faculty of Business and a FastStart advisor.
“We did everything step by step and I also had Katie (Sampson) there to help ignite sparks when I blank,” she said.
The young entrepreneur felt inspired by the podcast and the people she encountered.
“As an entrepreneur, it’s been really incredible to hear other people’s stories because I’m always talking to entrepreneurs, so at the end I’m like ‘I’m also starting my own business’ and they give me little tips and tricks,” said Clarke.
The Founders Drive project has had several other far-reaching impacts, beyond the Canadian borders.
Katie Sampson, another producer and host, travelled to Guatemala as a part of a Durham College trip in February. Part of the funding the team received for the podcast was used to purchase laptops for three Indigenous Mayan women.
The laptops are helping the young women go to university and start their own French-fry stands in their respective communities.
Sampson was able to personally deliver those laptops to the women.
“It was so emotional because these are three young women, I think they were 18, now have the chance to go to school and start a business, which in their communities most women are pushed out in Grade 6 to get married and be a housewife,” said Sampson.
The experience in Guatemala was “life-changing” for Sampson, and she was grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s one of the stories in the podcast and it truly is inspirational because here we don’t recognize our own privilege,” she said.
The journalism students joined the EnactusDC team to further their own journalistic skills. However, that changed as the podcast evolved.
“I went into it thinking that it will add to my portfolio and resume,” Sampson said. “I was pretty selfish about the whole thing but overall it’s such a great conversation that a lot of people don’t have.”
For Clarke, the project allowed her to call herself an entrepreneur.
“Initially, it was so I could put something on my resume, and I wasn’t sure how big this was going to be,” Clarke said. “Now, it’s something I’m proud of because we’re making a change and a difference in people’s lives, and in my own life.”
The team will now compete at the nationals in Montreal in May. The first season of the Founders Drive podcast will be released in August on World Entrepreneurship Day.
“When I first started, I wanted to gain experience and skills in the journalism industry. But it changed, seeing what this project can do,” said Raycraft. “I want to inspire people, I want people to know that this is a thing. It’s possible, everybody can be an entrepreneur.”
EnactusDC is part of FastStart, the college’s extra-curricular program designed to help entrepreneurial students develop and launch their own businesses.
Students from five other programs – PR and Strategic Communication, Advertising and Promotion, Photography and Interactive Media Design – have also been involved.