McLaughlin (left) and Borke (right) demonstrate how easy it is to use a Village Key.

When Bethel alumni Todd McLaughlin (’10) and Jacob Borke (’09) met as underclassmen in 2007, they had no idea that five years later they’d be running a business together.

After graduation, McLaughlin and Borke worked at a logistics company where McLaughlin quickly recognized, after working with companies like Groupon, the need for a different kind of company that would be beneficial to everyone.

That’s when they founded Village Key, an exclusive club that gives discounts to members when they flash their green plastic Village Key at local businesses. To McLaughlin and Borke, however, Village Key is more than a business. It’s a ministry that donates 50 percent of sales to nonprofits and serves others by creating business opportunities that are mutually beneficial to consumers, local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Ministry or not, starting a business from scratch does come with its own challenges. Oftentimes, to relieve the stress of long hours, Village Key employees will prank each other. Recently, McLaughlin decided to terrify Borke and coworker Brooks Egolf by hiding in a darkened office and jumping out when they returned.

“I thought Brooks was about to punch me” says McLaughlin.

Borke, on the other hand, hardly even noticed the “attacker” hiding in the office:

“Had it been a mugger, I would have been dead.”

The unique work environment at Village Key has impacted its success. In a matter of months, Village Key has escalated toward its goal of becoming nationwide, expanding from South Bend to numerous Michiana cities and even Fort Wayne. Borke shares his amazement of how quickly time has flown since his years at Bethel:

“Two to three years ago, I was sitting in a classroom,” says Borke.

In what seems like a blink of an eye, Borke and McLaughlin have gone from students to cofounders of their own business. Though it is clear that they know how to have fun, McLaughlin and Borke have dedicated 70-80 hours a week creating a busi-ness that serves their neighbors. For this reason, they can be confident that the seeds they sow in their business today will be reaped in the years to come.

To learn more about Village Key, visit their website at