The world of entrepreneurship has changed during the pandemic. In July 2020, the United States saw a 95 percent increase in applications for starting a business compared to the year before. With the launch of the 2022 Biola Startup Competition, hosted by Biola’s Office of Innovation, the Biola community may be contributing to that increase. The competition provides Biolans with the opportunity to work with a team through an idea for a business startup and learn the practical process of making a startup a reality.

Laura Hertz, a Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneur who has garnered acclaim for her company Gifts for Good, which focuses on turning corporate gifts into a more ethical and sustainable industry was this year’s keynote speaker at the competition launch event. As Hertz shared about her personal experiences starting a business with the goal of making a positive impact on the world, it became clear that her Biblically-grounded mission has impacted her definition of success, which looks quite different from the world’s.

While the world often measures success by financial and personal gain, a Christlike picture of success is grounded in service and sacrifice, she shared. In entrepreneurship, this can be seen through a commitment to making decisions that ultimately benefit everyone impacted by the company, even if this requires giving up some immediate profit. Hertz embodied this idea — her company has held firmly to ethical practices, even when it means letting go of clients and partnerships that could potentially increase the company’s financial success.

Gifts for Good actually began as part of a class project that Hertz and a classmate — now her business partner — developed when she was pursuing her master’s degree. So Hertz knows firsthand how opportunities to put education into real-life practice are beneficial and effective. Hertz’s advice provided the perfect launchpad for this years’ competitors as they consider how to bring their startup to life in the competition.

While previous Biola startup competitions have primarily included business students, the Office of Innovation, which runs the competition, is working to reach a wider student audience this year to encourage entrepreneurial students across campus to bring their ideas to the table.

Crowell School of Business recently launched a new program focused on the theology of leadership with an emphasis on innovation. Learn more about Biola’s new Master of Arts in Leadership and Innovation.

The Startup Competition is still accepting late entries. For more information about being a part of the competition, please contact the Office of Innovation at