Senior Spotlight: Jack Githens Can "Top That"
This piece is part of our Senior Stories series, in which we highlight GU students throughout the year.
Name: Jack Githens
Studies: Business administration with a finance concentration, Hogan entrepreneurial leadership
Hometown: Issaquah, Washington
For Jack Githens, it wasn’t a matter of if he would own a business, it was when.
Githens has always been intrigued by the business world, and began pursuing that interest in high school through DECA, an organization that prepares emerging leaders in the marketing, finance, hospitality and management fields. He especially enjoyed the combination of creative and technical aspects required to thrive in the business realm – qualities that enticed him to join Gonzaga’s Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.
“I knew right from the get-go that that’s what I wanted to pursue,” Githens says.
Soon after joining the cohort, Githens began keeping a running list on his phone of business ideas – large-scale software projects and smaller, local projects alike.
When Githens began participating with Ignite Northwest, an organization in Spokane that fosters startup efforts, he took his list of ideas more seriously. After examining his proposals to find the most realistic one, he selected one he’d pitch at Ignite Northwest’s Brainstorm & Brew event last February.
That’s where Table Topperz came to life.
The game of Cornhole has become a popular go-to for events ranging from family barbeques to wedding receptions. What makes it even more fun is custom designs for the game sets. Table Topperz is a customizable adhesive vinyl cover for cornhole sets, but also for pong tables and more, designed to eliminate the need for painting. The idea was sparked by a table his friends had tried painting, but quickly gave up on once it posed to be more of a challenge than anyone realized. He knew he wanted to find a better way, but settled for writing the idea down in his list for the meantime.
A year later, that idea has grown into his business.
“The feedback I got at the event was instantaneous and everyone had all these ideas on how it could go, so I knew there was interest,” Githens says. “I got good feedback and felt the excitement from them, and then I got a message from one of the guys that was there.”
Connor Simpson, a local businessman, reached out early spring expressing his interest in partnering with Githens to make his idea a reality. After his junior year, the two buckled down on forming a team that would help Table Topperz thrive.
The brand officially launched at the end of August, and since then, Githens has shifted his focus from startup logistics to marketing, which he says has been a process of “throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks.”
As of now, his end goal is to work in business sustainability, either through consulting or working with a business centered on fixing environmental issues.
Outside the classrooms and business meetings, Githens is savoring his final year on GU men’s rowing team.
He began his journey with the oar at GU, joining the team on a whim because he wanted to be in a team environment, whether through club sports or Division I.
“I really found that sense of community in the team,” Githens says. “The freshman group became a very close-knit family, essentially.”
His risk paid off, as Githens continues to enjoy the team’s camaraderie as he competes in his final season.
He served as the team’s representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Student Athlete Leadership Institute through his first two years, both of which focused on building and strengthening community within the teams. He said these programs gave him the opportunity to develop and practice applicable leadership skills on his team.
“I consider myself to be a leader, or at least someone who practices leadership,” Githens says. “It’s something I want to continue to do in the business world … I know I want to leave an impact, have a legacy. I think Table Topperz is a great starting place and building block for that.”
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