Sikeston Native Christopher Carnell Starts NTHfluence Crowdfunding Business
Department of Management and Marketing
Southeast Missouri State University student Christopher Carnell of Sikeston, Mo., started NTHFluence, a crowdfunding website that caters to nonprofit organizations, causes and projects.
“What we’re doing through NTHfluence is giving nonprofit projects a refreshing new look, feel and way to fund raise for specific projects,” he says. “We’re also giving philanthropists and supporters what is called in the nonprofit sector, a visual outcome – a return on their investment. They will see exactly where their money is going and know that their dollar really is making an impact.”
The idea for NTHfluence started while Christopher was participating in Operation JumpStart, a six-week program offered by the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to start or expand their businesses.
“We were talking about financing, and on the big screen was Kickstarter (the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects) and how crowdfunding was a new way to raise funds,” he says. “Justin Pobst, a consultant with the Center, nudged me and said, ‘That type of organization would be great for southeast Missouri.’ Needless to say, it sparked a much bigger idea.”
According to Christopher, Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of Southeast’s Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and associate professor of management, and Chris Edmonds, president of Element74, helped the company evolve into what it is today.
“Indefinite fund raising has its place, but it’s so mundane,” Christopher says. “And, the spotlight on some nonprofit administrative fees is sickening, which shows by our motto being: funding specific projects; giving meaning to fund raising.”
Although NTHfluence is just getting off the ground, Christopher says he plans to pursue some other business ideas as well.
“I’d ultimately like to see NTHfluence grow exceptionally for the next two years and add additional services to it and then develop either spinoff companies or completely different businesses altogether,” he says.
Over the past five years, Christopher has gained entrepreneurial experience at his father’s collision repair facility managing production and parts and running analytics as well as valuable advice.
“My father has always taught me that no matter how high up you are on the corporate ladder, you’re never too good to take out the trash,” he says.
At Southeast, Christopher is majoring in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
“The feeling of accomplishment and having control of your own life through your drive is motivating,” he says.
Christopher praises the University’s entrepreneurship program.
“Southeast is my third college to attend, and I can guarantee the University has something very special,” he says. “Looking at the future endeavors, the program and Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area will be a mini Silicon Valley soon. There are some great resources here, and I highly recommend anyone from any department or major utilize it.”
Christopher further credits Southeast faculty members with aiding in his success.
“Meeting people such as Dr. James Stapleton, Justin Pobst and Dr. Erin Fluegge Woolf (assistant professor of management) cannot be described in a few words,” he says. “These instructors care about so much more than just studies. I can’t say I would’ve realized this right out of high school. But, working in the real world and starting a company, you realize these faculty members bring more to the University than Ph.D.s and a slot time fill for a course. They bring experience, expertise, knowledge and wisdom, and a much appreciated attitude and willingness to do whatever possible to see their students succeed.”
On campus, Christopher stays involved with the Redhawk Collegiate Entrepreneurs, an organization that provides members with a variety of opportunities to connect with successful entrepreneurs from all walks of life as well as raise money for Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization that brings the real world to students through hands-on curriculum delivered by trained classroom volunteers.
“The benefits of that organization are meeting business owners and learning from their failures and mistakes, but ultimately the networks of people are great for whatever road is chosen,” he says.
When not generating and executing new business ideas, Christopher says he relaxes by reading.
“I’ve played soccer for clubs, high school and college, and have played guitar for bands and at different venues, but you’ll always see me with a book,” he says. “I try to read at least two a month: self-help, motivation, business, biographies, anything really.”
Christopher encourages Southeast students to stick with school.
“I was working full time, going to school half time and on the verge of dropping out of college because I didn’t see the point,” he says. “I figured I was driven enough to succeed in life and thought college was a waste. Fortunately, my advisor, Kim Madigan, persuaded me to try one more semester before cutting ties. That was the semester I met Justin Pobst and really got driven about entrepreneurship and changed majors. Since that time, I have met some incredible people and am now about to launch a company that would not have happened if I would have dropped out. So, if you’re on the verge of quitting for whatever reason … give it one more semester.”
Christopher also advises students to network with purpose.
“Don’t run around conferences handing out your business card or dropping so many emails you forget who replied to you. Meet people, get to know others, but look to give before you get. Not only are others so willing to help you succeed and achieve your own goals, but you’ll have the opportunity to help others as well.”
Christopher says one of his favorite quotes is by William Ernest Henley in his poem, “Invictus,” in which he declares, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
“We have so much potential,” Christopher says. “Our success in life ultimately depends on what we’re willing to sacrifice. If you work to improve yourself and then find your passion and stay focused on achieving your goals, what can stop you? It starts with you.”