Jeffrey Burningham, BYU alumni, donor, and partner to the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, believes that the creative process is a pivotal piece to a fulfilling life. From creating startups in college to venture capital, to owning Peak Capital Partners, Burningham teaches and mentors with the message that everyone is capable of creating new ideas that can better lives and society.
Burningham has always been a self-starter, even as a child. “I asked my parents to buy a carpet cleaner for me so that I could create a small, cleaning business and asked everyone around if I could clean their carpets,” Burningham explains. Moving from his hometown of Spokane Valley, Washington, to Provo to attend BYU introduced him to the ever-growing economy of Utah, where his natural entrepreneurial spirit continued to thrive.
Burningham studied communications as an undergraduate, but he went the extra mile to make entrepreneurship a part of his BYU experience. “Entrepreneurship is an accelerated form of learning because you learn through taking wise risks. I have always loved learning.”
This love for learning and risks led him to a heavy involvement in the Rollins Center at the BYU Marriott School of Business. During his undergraduate experience, Burningham won the center’s 2001 Business Model Competition with a partner and his first-ever tech startup, Mindwire. Mindwire was sold to a NASDAQ listed company three years later.
Five years after graduation, Burningham and two friends from BYU started Peak Capital Partners. During this time, Burningham continued his involvement in the Rollins Center as a donor and a mentor. “I was paired up with students who were looking for advice on their startups,” Burningham explains. He has funded and helped multiple startups including Owlet, Podium, and Neighbor. “The Rollins Center offered so much to me. It’s always been a focus of mine to try and give back,” Burningham says.
As part of his involvement in the Rollins Center and having earned an EMBA from BYU Marriott, Burningham teaches a class open to all students interested in fostering their own creative ventures—both in business and in life. In his class titled “The Business of Life,” Burningham hosts successful entrepreneurs and interviews them about balancing life and business.
Weekly guests have included Davis Smith, founder of Cotopaxi, and Jess Toolson, founder of Mixhers. As discussion topics range from business practices to personal struggles, the course explores the idea of success and humanizes the hard work and challenges that lead to success.
Each class students walk in to see these words by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf projected on the screen: “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” Burningham believes everyone can find fulfillment in learning and creating. “We all want to create something that isn’t here now and that is meaningful. With this class I can communicate that to my students,” Burningham says.
Despite being busy helping Peak Capital Partners grow, hosting the Extraordinary Us podcast, and writing a book, Burningham donates his time to the Rollins Center through mentorship and teaching. “I’m going to continue to lean in and take the lessons I’ve learned in my career to lift and mentor the brightest students in the nation.”
Written by Alice Gubler