My Experience Building a Christian Health Business Through MBET

Friday, March 17, 2023

Jenni Lien, MBET '23
Hi everyone, my name is Jenni Lien and I’m part of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) 2023 cohort.

When I tell pastors and ministry leaders that I’m building a Christian business in a secular business school, I often get surprised responses. But for me, it’s been a very natural process. I was clear that I wanted to build a business targeted at Christian women — building on my platform The Yay Project by Yay Ministries — in my MBET application, and also in class introductions, projects, and in my application for other on-campus opportunities like the University of Waterloo’s Student Venture Fund and the GreenHouse Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs at United College. All I’ve felt is respect and support from my professors and peers.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the MBET program. Sure, prior to applying, I reviewed the course topics which sounded interesting. And I really liked how the program was structured as it sounded like the program would essentially help you build a business from A-Z, from understanding our strengths and potential blind spots as entrepreneurs, to validating our business idea, practicing our pitching style, creating sales and marketing strategy, and more. How great that students get to do all this with support from experts and in a community of like-minded ambitious entrepreneurs! What’s it actually been like?

In the past, I’ve worked with experienced angel investors and venture capitalists, and asked one of them to be my reference for my MBET application. They said they were happy to but asked me to think about whether the program was necessary. I suppose I could have invested what I’m spending on tuition into my business and tried to find online videos and tutorials on similar topics to the MBET courses.

Jenni Lien and her team celebrating a win during the ignition (orientation) week pitch competition
But being part of MBET has been so valuable. I really enjoy the quality of the teaching, mentoring, and community in the classroom and in the wider Kitchener-Waterloo startup community. They’ve helped me be bolder with my business idea as well as ensured I’ve really thought through the needs and “frustrations” of my user — that I’m building a product for my customer rather than finding a customer for my product.

In an ideal world, all entrepreneurs would have a clear vision, endless confidence and skill, and efficiently execute to great success. But being this superhuman isn’t realistic, is it? It’s a blessing to be part of a community that teaches, supports and challenges you to be your best. When I started the MBET, I had a burning desire to help Christian women seek God for emotional health and healing (often spoken of in Christian circles as “inner healing”) — as this changed my own walk with God in a powerful way — but I was recovering from work-related burnout and praying for the confidence to actually build this dream that was burning in my heart. Through coursework and inner work, these past few months have been so nourishing.

Five months later, I’m part of opportunities I barely dared to dream of when I started. I’m the proud founder of Pink and New, an emotional health and healing platform for Christian women. I was an analyst with the Student Venture Fund (part of the Golden Triangle Angel Network), am a member of the GreenHouse Social Incubator, have just been accepted to the Stu Clark New Venture Championships in Manitoba… and hopefully more to come.

And this is just a glimpse of my story — my fellow MBETs are doing so many amazing things, from winning national awards and on-campus pitch competitions, travelling to national pitch competitions, getting internships with local angel networks, being teaching assistants, balancing an intense full-time CFO job while pursuing their MBET full-time… so inspired by our cohort!

Jenni Lien  her classmates celebrating the holidays with Conrad School staff/faculty

Jenni Lien  MBET students celebrating a birthday

Which reminds me, a few days ago I was having a conversation with a classmate in our MBET lounge. I asked her if she was happy she’d chosen to do the MBET over the MBA at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Her reply? Yes, because the atmosphere at MBA schools is often competitive (competing for traditional jobs) whereas MBET is supportive (our ventures are all different) and… because “honestly… MBET makes me dream.” I think all of us MBETs feel this way. It’s why we applied, why we’re working so hard, why we seek our professors for guidance and support, and why we try to take advantage of the many opportunities offered to us to help make our dreams a reality.

Not to sound too promotion-y (not being paid to write this post!) but if you want to build your dream and are looking for support to make it happen, the MBET may be the right next step for you. It has been for me. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!