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Oct. 3, 2023

Student View: A Spartan entrepreneur’s leap of faith

Paul Reiss is a third-year Lifelong Learning student from Hudsonville, Michigan. He is earning a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation with the Burgess Institute. Reiss is the co-founder and CEO of Protein Pints, a protein ice cream company based in Michigan.

Paul Riess poses in front of a wall wearing a black Protein Pints t-shirt
Paul Riess

Growing up in Hudsonville, Michigan, my college trajectory seemed straightforward. By 2021, I was close to completing my degree, had a full-ride scholarship, had an internship lined up and even juggled dual-sport athletics. However, beneath the surface of success, I felt the pull of a path less traveled.

Standing at the crossroads of comfort and challenge, I often asked myself: "What will I regret more? Giving it my all, or never having tried in the first place?" Choosing the latter, I took a daring semester off to explore entrepreneurship. This might sound audacious to some, but for me, "The best things in life are on the other side of fear."

The pivotal moment came in November 2022 when I attended the Michigan Collegiate Startup Challenge at MSU. Pitching my brainchild, Protein Pints, I clinched third place and a crucial $2,000 in non-dilutive funding. More than the accolade, the recognition and encouragement from the Burgess Institute catalyzed my transfer to MSU.

Entrepreneurship is a lot like being a parent — and your startup is the child. As every parent knows, resources are the nutrients that allow a child to flourish.  It's the same for startups — they need resources to grow. And grow Protein Pints did. Under Burgess's mentorship, my prototype evolved into a market-ready product within a matter of months, which today is making waves on store shelves.

It wasn’t merely the tangible resources that made Burgess invaluable to me. It was an irreplaceable community and culture. Being surrounded by brilliant minds, all striving towards their dreams — it's truly transformative. After all, we reflect those we surround ourselves with.

Fueling my daily grind is a profound sense of purpose. My hustle is anchored in serving both God and others. I genuinely look forward to working every day. Knowing it’s in line with a higher purpose — that's the best motivation. With enthusiasm and gratitude for life, I find joy in every task, big or small.

So, what does the future hold for me? I’m focused on serving God and others. This means continual personal growth, embracing new opportunities and lifelong learning. I believe that the alignment of my goals with those of MSU and Burgess creates a symbiotic relationship where both thrive through mutual growth.

I have a heartfelt message to my fellow aspiring Spartan entrepreneurs: You are right where you need to be. Worrying achieves nothing. Relish this present moment, the sheer miracle of life. Everything is working out for the best.

My story, from a student-athlete to the CEO of Protein Pints, reminds me of the power of faith, determination and the right environment. It underscores that even the sky isn't the limit when passion meets purpose.

This story originally appeared on the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation website.

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