There is a growing Christian tech-savvy population that is looking to join with like-minded Christians to promote their businesses. In Manhattan, the Faith and Tech meetup group and Redeemer Presbyterian Church support Christian entrepreneurs and startup companies.
One such startup, FaithStreet, matches Christians and churches, and it now has 7,400 places of worship listed in 50 states. The Christians who participate in these ventures tend to leave investors agape with their emphasis on God-centered values. Henry Kaestner, co-founder of the Internet phone provider Bandwidth.com, explains, “Most investors are trained to look for shareholder return and profits. When somebody says, ‘I’m working for the glory of God,’ it can be hard to get funding. Investors don’t know what box to check.”
Redeemer has funded 20 startups over the past seven years. The church’s annual small business competition requires that the business founder must be Christian. Calvin Chin, director of entrepreneurship initiatives, states, “The entrepreneur needs to be somebody who is aligned with our values and what we believe in.” The church picks three business winners each year; each receives $25,000 in seed money, which comes from affluent church members, according to Chin. But he says the church is unconcerned that it hasn’t made any money back yet.
Dave Blanchard co-founded the startup accelerator program Praxis Labs, which supports entrepreneurs who are “compelled by their faith to advance the common good.” He explains:
We felt like a lot of people were motivated by their faith to become entrepreneurs, but there was no place for them to talk about how their faith should be expressed in their organizations.
Praxis hosts entrepreneurs for four-day sessions in New York’s Hudson Valley and Playa del Rey, Calif.