Jason Russ '17 took his company, M57 to our Zuventurez PITCH ‘16 stage winning 2nd place taking home $3,000 and went through INCUBATE ‘17, an 18 week pilot program. His brother, Alex Russ ‘17, shares the heart and purpose behind their business and what you can learn by asking yourself questions to get to the core of your company’s meaning.
It has been such an exhilarating experience to work alongside my brother, Jason Russ ‘17, the last couple of years in starting our jewelry company, M57 Revolution. Zuventurez has played a key role in helping us see our vision come to life. From creating sketches of designs, networking, advertising through social media, learning from mentors, and utilizing public speaking skills to pitch in from of a crowd at Zuventurez, a lot of necessary pieces are required to start a business.
But what is the most important aspect to starting a business? What should the foundational concrete of your business be? I do not believe it is the how, when, who or even what. If someone were to strip down his or her business to the very core, what would be standing? If one would look to the very reason why their business is breathing, I believe they would find their “why”.
The “why” is the heartbeat of your business or startup. But what does that even mean? Let me explain.
When my brother got the vision for M57 Revolution, he knew that it would entail giving back to others in some way. M57 stands for Matthew 5:7. This verse from the Bible writes, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. My brother and I have both received mercy from God and others and wanted to bless others with this same mercy. Although my brother had a general vision for M57, he had to go through a process of figuring out what that “why” is. That’s where I came in.
My brother realized that the “why” was right in front of our faces the whole time. I went through a season of my life where I dealt with severe anxiety and my family and I experienced the deep agony of it. After leaving school for a time, and going through severe battles, I found freedom. This freedom came when I realized that I was loved and accepted by God just as I am. I had nothing to prove or earn when I was with him. The anxiety problems that had so intensely run my life for years basically washed away overnight. So how does this have to do with the “why” of M57 Revolution? The very core of our business was not out there somewhere, but in us. It was our experience with GREAT pain and even greater victory.
What makes you passionate to take another step? What gives you courage to face your fears? What drives you as you walk on this earth? What wakes you up in the morning and calls you to your job, business, or education? What is that thing that you cannot live without? What my brother and I realized is that what was truly driving us to introduce M57 to the world was not to gain profit or establish a name for ourselves but to simply share what we have received: mercy, freedom, acceptance, love. Our passion is to help those around us who are struggling with anxiety, fears, depression and a sense of hopelessness. Our “why” is to speak truth into every person we come in contact with through our jewelry. We want to remind all people who they are at their core: loved, strong, courageous etc. With every piece of jewelry we have a meaning behind it to help people daily remind themselves of who they truly are. This is our “why”.
Within joining Zuventurez and PITCH, I would encourage you to find your “why”. A good one can withstand any criticism or defeat. You can go through the worst of times with your business and still hold on to that one thing that drives you forward. I think you’ll be surprised -- it’s not something far fetched or super complicated. A successful business, at its core, will stand tall in the hardest of times when everything else crumbles. It is not because of your who, when, how or what. It is because of your “why”.
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