Filling up the studio, running out the door and spilling down the stairs: the crowd of more than 50 excited people who turned out to mark the start of Etch was larger than its offices could hold.
Etch is a marketing and graphic design venture run entirely by 14 McPherson College students. Etch exclusively serves non-profit organizations on a donations basis. The venture was overflowing with clients even before the ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 7 with 13 already lined up by word-of-mouth alone. Local student Evan Hiebert, Goessel, is part of the venture.
Thomas Brown, mayor of McPherson, encouraged the students to “Go get ’em” and praised Etch as a unique venture that will serve a need in the community, working for a different niche than local commercial marketing and design firms.
“This entrepreneurial venture will open up the opportunity to provide marketing services to non-profits on a limited budget and help them be successful,” Brown said after the ceremony. “When non-profit agencies are successful, it means many people will have a better life.”
Etch is an outgrowth of McPherson College’s Freedom to Jump entrepreneurship initiative. Other aspects of the program have given micro-grants of up to $500 to students to explore an entrepreneurial idea, sent students to Haiti to explore the feasibility of their non-profit concepts, and given all students the opportunity to make an entrepreneurship minor part of their degree.
In the space of three months, Etch went from concept to a fully-fledged venture, thanks to guidance and financial support from both McPherson College and a McPherson County E-Community Partnership grant, which is administered by the McPherson Chamber of Commerce.
Etch is intended to give students valuable professional experience, while at the same time giving non-profit organizations critical graphic design and marketing. Students can also receive internship credit for their work at Etch.
Becca Heeke, sophomore, Spearville, and business director of Etch, said she was drawn to the venture because of the real-world experience she would gain.
“In class it’s sitting there learning how to do things,” she said. “Actually getting to do it will help a lot. College is a nice time to learn about opening a business, while you still have that safety net. You do this on your own, you don’t really have a chance to fail. It’s one and done.”
The vision statement of Etch, displayed prominently in the lobby area of Etch, is “Define Yourself.”
“That’s part of our goal, to help non-profits define themselves,” Heeke said. “That’s what the college is really about and that’s what we wanted Etch to be about.”
Learn more about Etch at studioetch.org. They can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (620) 755-8856. They are at 207 N. Main St., Suite 201, above Elliott Insurance.