Jesus, Burgers, and Taxicabs
For entrepreneur Hans Hess, better food and cleaner transportation aren't just ways to make money—they're means to serve both God and humanity.
To say that Hans Hess' career path has meandered would be an understatement: In college, he majored in physics. Then he went to Dallas Seminary. After that, he landed on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide. Obviously, that set him up to be a serial entrepreneur. Today, the California native lives just outside Washington, D.C., and runs two companies: Elevation Burger, a rapidly growing fast-food chain that serves burgers made from organic, grass-fed beef and fresh-cut French fries fried in olive oil; and EnviroCab, a northern Virginia taxi operation whose earth-friendly fleet has only Priuses and hybrid Ford Escapes.
Jeff Chu: OK, so where's the common thread between burgers and taxis?
Hans Hess: [Laughs] They're both about care for people and for the environment.
JC: And how do you get from seminary to burgers and taxis?
HH: I have a degree in theology from Dallas Seminary, and I've spent the last 10 to 15 years thinking about how being a Christian affects what I do in the world. I also got a degree in physics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. I didn't do either degree with the idea that I'd be a theologian or a physicist. I just couldn't have been those things. So I was left with trying to reconcile living an alternate life with doing something I thought would please God. I wanted to do something that was positive and that was different.