We’re starting a short series of posts from people who are past Hatch-a-thon participants. Our first installment is by Matt McNelly, who participated in 2016’s Hatch-a-thon, and who started an exciting ministry called Go Fish!

What happened with your project after the Hatch-a-thon?

Following the Hatch I spent the following months applying for and receiving a grant to launch our missional initiative with the intent to roll out a beta test of our program during the summer of 2016. Our $5,000 grant plus a generous donation of $4,000 from families in our congregation allowed our ministry Go Fish! to purchase the necessary equipment (including a boat!) to test our idea of using a state bounty program to remove an invasive fish species as a vehicle for doing social entrepreneurial youth ministry. I spent the first two months of the season learning the ropes of boat operation and fishing techniques; all with an eye toward how this translates to a group of kids out fishing for the day. I learned SO much during the months of May, June, and July on how to do this fishing thing. I failed. A lot. But was able to preserve and in the end we successfully launched 3 one-day fishing trips in August with youth from our church and larger community. The experience was awesome. Kids loved it. Their parents loved it. It was an affirmation that the idea hatched back in Princeton has huge potential for changing kids lives.

What are you doing now?

We have moved from testing the theory to fully implementing this ministry for the summer of 2017. Our ministry Go Fish! will offer between 16 and 20 fishing trips between June 19-August 30. I am currently working with a member of our church with expertise in public relations and advertising to develop a website, logo, and social media presence to promote our ministry and also provide a portal for participants and donors to interface with the ministry. I am doing more fundraising, purchasing/replacing/upgrading equipment for the upcoming season, and doing physical therapy to rehab a fishing injury from the summer. Yes, you can get injured fishing if you do it enough.

Did your experience in the Hatch-a-thon help you get to where you are today? If so, how?

The Hatch was critical to the development of our idea. The conference provided me the tools to think through the different aspects of launching a new endeavor from financing to advertising to generating a support base. The encouragement and personal support I received from the staff gave me the confidence to take on the huge amount of risk and the unknowns involved in launching a ministry that has no real existing template.

Hungry for more? Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date on our latest blogs and Ministry Incubators news! Or, are you ready to take action? Think about attending a Hatch-a-thon where you can start planning your own venture! Check out the next one happening March 29-31 at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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