77: Using an MBA to raise millions in funding and start two extraordinary social enterprises – with Todd Hannula, founder of Shine and daCunha
After getting his Executive MBA at Georgia State University, Todd Hannula found himself in the usual post-MBA corporate gig.
Living in a small New Hampshire village he found that on top of his work he was spending up to 30 hours a week volunteering across a whole range of areas — everything from the local historical society, the library board, to garden planning. That experience provided a watershed moment, challenging what he thought was important in life.
He realised that what he really enjoyed was helping people and making a difference. A seed had been planted.
A move to Europe and an introduction to social enterprise through a family member found Todd drawing on his MBA experience to successfully bid for millions of pounds to regenerate some of the most challenging urban areas in the North of the UK. Having won the funding, Todd then bid again to win some of that funding for Shine, an extraordinary social enterprise launched with his wife and business partner, Dawn (also an MBA - it's where they met!)
Shine: a business with a purpose beyond profits
Shine is an entrepreneurial hub housed in a converted 40,000 square foot Victorian building located in one of Europe’s most challenging neighbourhoods. It's a conference and meeting space, hosting a café with artworks throughout. It's also, frankly, a beautiful space - somewhere that lifts and inspires the entire community within which it's located.
Among other things, it runs a program for female ex-offenders aimed at reducing repeat offending and at re-uniting families. Through that and its other programs, Shine fulfils Todd’s remit: a business run for profit and purpose.
Todd has lots of great advice for entrepreneurs but he condensed it down to two starting points for us:
- Don’t hide your idea. Instead, tell others about it. You’ll find people will come out and help you implement it.
- Don’t expect to do it all by yourself. It takes a team to realise your dream.
On the podcast he also talks frankly about the rollercoaster of starting and growing the business, including a brutally honest account of having to lay off staff when a new venture did not go to plan.
What's next? daCunha!
A serial entrepreneur with a passion for new ideas, it was inevitable that Shine would not be the end of Todd's story. While Dawn is now the driving force behind taking Shine to the next level, Todd is exploring his next venture, daCunha.
daCunha is a business using storytelling to restore our innate curiosity and creativity; gifts we all have as children - crucial for thriving, successful and compassionate societies - but which get steadily and systematically eroded through mainstream schooling.
Check out the daCunha website to read some short stories which just might change the way you think about the world.
Todd's ultimate advice is to learn to let go and move forward. Don't cling to your failures. You have to fail at some point in order to have success.
I hope you enjoy the episode. I guarantee you'll find plenty in there to inspire you!
“Burn the boats”
Thanks again to Todd for his warmth and honesty, and for taking the time to share his story.
Keep in touch
Don't want to miss a blog or podcast? Then join the Career Farm community to get regular updates.