The world of 3D printing is no longer an unattainable dream; 3D printers have been set up in Startup Aggieland, a facility operated by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. These 3D printers can be used by any students who want to print out their neat new ideas, but as a 3D model and not just as a 2D image.

Charles Hinton, I-Corps Director and Startup Aggieland veteran, is facilitating the startup process for these new 3D printers. As a Texas A&M graduate, Hinton understands the importance of students expressing their ideas in creative ways. According to Hinton, these printers will serve as the beginning of the development of a makerspace in Startup Aggieland, where students and faculty can come to design, experiment, and learn.

These 3D printers will give students the opportunity to build a touchable “first look” at the ideas and gadgets they have created in their head or on paper. This is an incredible feat for students who are looking to become entrepreneurs or students who just want to know if their idea could have any commercial value.

Users of the printer must first generate a model of the product they want to manufacture, which they can do on a 3D modeling software called Solid Works that can be acquired for free from the university. The students then bring their design to Startup Aggieland, where a different software will slice and convert the design to a printable format. The 3D printer can then get to work by adding layer upon layer of raw material fed into the printer to create a final product. …Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, I-Corps, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

The new Mays Innovation Research Center has an inaugural director: Mays Business School professor Korok Ray, who conceptualized the center as a place to discover how and when innovation occurs, then transfer that knowledge to Texas A&M University students.

Ray, an associate professor of accounting, will lead the center to provide research support to existing and new faculty members across the Texas A&M campus. It will bridge the research at Mays with that occurring in engineering, business, liberal arts, and other academic disciplines. The center will also fund Ph.D. fellowships and undergraduate research opportunities, and award prizes for outstanding research that advances the center’s mission.

Ray’s research interests are performance measurement, compensation, corporate governance, and cost allocation. He has taught accounting at Texas A&M University, the University of Chicago and Georgetown University, and earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He also served as the senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers in the White House from 2007 to 2009.

Ray said he has experienced strong support for the concept. “Dean (Eli) Jones, The Texas A&M Foundation, and our donors have been outstanding in their support of this vision from the beginning,” he said. “I’m thrilled and honored to lead this center into new and uncharted territory, as the conversation on innovation unfolds both on our campus and nationally.  The center will engage students in research, support faculty, and pursue opportunities unique to Texas A&M, with its special combination of first-tier research and first-class values.”

…Read more

Categories: Accounting, Centers, Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, News, Research, Texas A&M

Store brands, often called “own brands,” have certainly come into their own. Some retailers, like Trader Joe’s, almost exclusively sell private label products. Overall, this category of manufactured goods represents about 20 percent of all products sold at grocery, drug chain, and mass merchant stores. Yielding a higher margin compared to national brands, like Tide or Doritos, the industry is poised only to grow and offer lesser-known, but highly successful, career paths.

In November, seven Texas A&M University students became the first Aggies to attend the Private Label Trade Show and University Outreach program in Chicago. The event attracts 2,800 booths exhibitors from 70 countries with over 5,000 buyers and visitors’ eager to discover innovative new products catering to modern consumer taste pallets, from organic spices, gourmet baked cheeses, to mango Sriracha beef jerky. Some of the attendees included companies partnered with the Center for Retailing Studies in Mays Business School.

Supply chain major and M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar Allison McGraw ’18 said, “I loved this experience! The opportunity to shadow a supplier on day one and then a retailer on day two allowed me to build a more complete understanding of the grocery business.” McGraw will intern next summer with PepsiCo/Frito Lay.

Mentor companies included Hormel Foods, Wegmans, H-E-B, Walmart, Whole Foods, Eurocan Pet Products, and 45 others. Fifty students from nine universities participated in the University Outreach program hosted and generously underwritten by the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association.

Packaging and design expert Deborah Ginsburg, founder of Stategia Design, coached Aggie entrepreneur McCalley Cunningham ’18 about the branding of her End Hunger granola bites. While many of the trade show’s snack products emphasized nutrition, Ginsburg recommended that Cunningham more prominently articulate the product’s social good – to feed a hungry child with each purchase. “Packaging must communicate ingredients and allergens, but it should also showcase the maker’s inspiration and brand promise,” Ginsburg explained.

Former JCPenney intern and marketing major Alexandra Marks ’18 shadowed T.Marzetti, a maker of salad dressings, dips, and croutons. Her mentor, Tom Ewing, Director, Retail Channel Business, demonstrated how to make quick connections with expo attendees, generate leads, and strategize post-event communication. Marks said, “I’ve participated in classroom sales role-play activities,” she said. “Seeing a manufacturer pitch for business and interact with existing clients in the fast-pace environment of the trade show taught me that a proper business deal should have both parties feeling good, which means much of the trade show has to do with maintaining positive relationships.” The next day, Marks shadowed Whole Foods Market buyer Lauren Winstead, who Marks credited with providing “an excellent example of how to be kind and professional while also being direct about retailer requirements when talking to exhibitors.”

Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University, said, “All of the national brand retailers who partner with Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies have robust private label businesses. However, these career paths may not be well-known by students. By partnering with PLMA, CRS can promote jobs in product development, sales, and packaging design, while building new corporate contacts.” She concluded, “Retailers are innovators in all areas of business from accounting to real estate to IT. Attending this trade show opened another opportunity for Aggies.”

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School reflects the values of excellence revered by its namesake – Artie McFerrin, a long-time supporter of Texas A&M University and the name behind the $10 million gift that secured the center’s future.

An intimate group that included Artie McFerrin’s wife Dorothy, their daughter Jennifer, and a gathering of family, friends and university leaders attended a recent reception to celebrate the official naming of the center. The event at the Founders Club at Kyle Field served as a tribute to Artie McFerrin, and a thank-you to his family, who have supported Texas A&M for years.

Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Jr. ’65 (2016 photo)

“If you strive for success, if you dream of venturing into the unknown and emerging smarter and stronger, if you want to grow yourself so you can grow others, you not only have a place to go, but also a name forever attached to it,” Tyson Voelkel, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, said at the event.

The center, which serves more than 3,000 students and more than 1,000 former students through 27 programs, is an international leader in entrepreneurial education. It aims to enhance entrepreneurial student education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and alumni. With the support of a volunteer network, corporate supporters, faculty, and staff, the McFerrin Center has been able to provide business start-up acceleration, competitive opportunities, work experiences, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community and across the world.

…Read more

Categories: Centers, Dean Eli Jones, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Programs, Selfless service, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M

Mays Business School senior Leslie Bonorden was selected to compete for a National Merit Scholarship after winning a $5,000 Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) during the first round of the advanced retail case study. Only one student from each university could be submitted to compete for the next round of scholarships, and Bonorden’s work proved to be Texas A&M University’s best.

In the first round of the competition, competing students evaluated the recent partnership with Etsy, an online marketplace for buying and selling unique goods, and Macy’s, the 159-year-old retail chain. Students were asked to (1) identify the end-use customer the collaboration should target and (2) identify Etsy sellers who would create the most demand. They also developed a marketing campaign and six-month financial plan for The Etsy Shop. Each winner received a $5,000 scholarship. Eight Mays students were named 2017 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Recipients, including Bonorden, winning a total of $40,000 in scholarships.

Out of the eight scholarship recipients, she was chosen to compete for scholarships that were as high as $35,000 in the next round of the competition. She worked on the case study throughout the summer while doing an internship with Kohl’s.

Only eight finalists out of all the universities across the nation were selected, and although Bonorden was not selected as a finalist, the process was a great learning experience for her. She said that this project “taught [her] how to clearly communicate [her] thoughts and ideas in a fun and creative way,” and it also taught her that if she works hard at anything, she will be proud no matter what the result.

Cheryl Bridges, a professor of marketing at Mays, teaches the Advanced Retail Case Study course. She said she could not be prouder of Bonorden’s work, and how well she represented Mays Business School and Texas A&M in this highly competitive national competition. “When Leslie won the first-round scholarship last year, the Fashion Scholarship Fund Organization selected her paper as an example of a perfect one,” said Bridges. “I think this is a really good story about how our business school students compete and represent us so well in the fashion and retailing industries.”

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

By Venky Shankar

11/11 or November 11 is celebrated as the World’s Singles Day. It is an entertaining event widely popular among Chinese people. November 11 was chosen because it contains multiple instances of the number one that best represents an individual alone. In recent times, it has also become the day with the biggest single day sales. Promoted by giant Chinese e-commerce retailer Alibaba as a mega sales day event, revenues from the Singles Day has grown exponentially from just $100 million in 2009 to $18 billion in 2016. This year, Alibaba’s Singles Day sales are expected to reach $22 billion.

But Alibaba is not alone in this journey. JD.com, its main Chinese online rival, has teamed up with Tencent, another Chinese online behemoth, and Walmart to cash in on the binge buying that takes place that day. Although Alibaba cornered about 71 percent of overall single day revenues last year, its competitors may be able to bite into more of its share this year.

Such is the volume of online sales on Singles Day that it trounces sales done on other mega event days, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day, which are also expected to rise this year. By comparison, Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales totaled $6.8 billion in 2016.

Why is Singles Day important for the future? By 2022, Chinese middle-class shoppers are predicted to surpass U.S. shoppers both in number (550 million vs. 340 million) and spending. Because it is online, Singles Day offers the potential of tapping into global shoppers for maximizing sales revenue for many U.S. retailers as well.

With all these online excitement, where is retail headed? Globally, more commerce is moving rapidly online as shoppers use more of their mobile devices and online channels to browse, compare, click, purchase and return items, and communicate with others and retailers.

That doesn’t mean physical stores are getting irrelevant. True, some of the predominantly brick-and-mortar retailers such as Sears and Macy’s are struggling. However, omnichannel retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy are thriving. Even pure e-commerce retailers such as Amazon are moving offline. Amazon is opening physical bookstores, bought Wholefoods, partnering with Kohl’s to handle product returns, and is testing a new self-scanning and electronic paying store concept called Amazon Go. Even Alibaba has acquired In-Time department stores and has its own experimental He Ma supermarket stores. In addition, it has enabled 100,000 convenience stores to become smart centers. Shoppers want 360-degree access to retail from multiple touchpoints and demand a seamless experience. The retail universe is becoming an increasingly mobile-led omnichannel universe.

Whatever the prediction for the future, one thing is clear: Sales on Singles day is going to get only bigger this year.

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Venky Shankar is the Coleman Chair Professor in Marketing at Mays Business School as well as director of research at Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies. His areas of specialization include digital business, marketing strategy, innovation, retailing, international marketing, and pricing.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M

Eleven M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars traveled to the Houston headquarters of francesca’s® on Oct. 27 to learn about the company first-hand and further solidify the school’s partnership with the company.

President and CEO Steve Lawrence kicked off the morning. He explained the launch of francesca’s® in 1999 as a single boutique store in Houston, and its rapid rise to becoming a publicly traded company in 2012. Today the fashion chain operates 670 boutiques in 48 states across the country.

Lawrence also talked about the company’s decision to move its headquarters to an industrial park. Every department operates in one building, including its distribution center. He added that having everyone at the same location made it much simpler to work collaboratively, access samples, and troubleshoot problems.

Gift, home & beauty Senior Buyer Sadie Price addressed common misconceptions on what people typically think a buyer’s role is. It is not easy or glamorous as portrayed on television, and not about free merchandise or runway shows. “Success as a buyer requires loving product, creativity, innovation, data analysis, trend research, and thinking outside the box,” Price explained. She praised francesca’s® work culture, adding that it supports career growth and provides a fun environment. Employees can wear jeans every day and workout clothes a couple times a week.

The group also heard from Katelin Pollock, Manager of Visual, at francesca’s®. The company recently rolled out updates to brighten stores, highlight merchandise, increase capacity, and enhance window presentations. Pollock pointed out that 53 percent of francesca’s® traffic comes from walk-by onlookers attracted by each boutique’s visual appeal. She also explained how they have personalized boutiques to better fit their local region. For example, stores in Texas carry more artwork emphasizing the state of Texas, and the College Station store features maroon merchandise during football season.

Senior Planner Maurizio Menchaca ’09, EVP, eCommerce/CMO Erik Lautier, EVP – Chief Boutiques Officer David Minnix, and Senior Director of Real Estate Michael Stanley also addressed the group.

After hearing from each department, the students participated in a facilities tour of francesca’s®. They saw the warehouse, distribution center, in-house marketing, and photography studio. SVP of Supply Chain Ray Birden and Senior Buyer Cassie Schirra led the tour. Birden described how the warehouse can package all of the materials needed to open a new store into a single trailer, from flooring, chandeliers, dressing rooms, and more. The students also observed the process for online order fulfillment and store replenishment shipments.

Mays Business School is francesca’s® top collegiate partner in hiring. Two of the three interns last year were Aggies, and all interns will join francesca’s® after graduation. Unlike many brick-and-mortar retailers, francesca’s® is growing – and rich with career opportunities for students.

Senior marketing major and Zale Scholar Aricka Anderson ’18 added, “Opportunities like these can be rare to come by for students, and francesca’s® truly gave me an authentic preview of a day-in-the-life working for one of our nation’s top retailers!”

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

The fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses were recognized Friday night at the 13th Annual Aggie 100 at a dinner hosted by the Texas A&M Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. Members of the exclusive club were honored by about 700 attendees at a dinner at the Hall of Champions at Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field.

The company with the highest growth was Lonquist Field Services (Canada), which reported a growth of 223.287 percent. It is owned by Richard R. Lonquist ’87, Roy W. Duff ’85 and Robert S. Crews ’90.

The complete Aggie 100 list may be found at www.aggie100.com.

To be considered for the Aggie 100, companies (corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships) must operate in a manner consistent with the Aggie Code of Honor and in keeping with the values and image of Texas A&M University, and must meet specific criteria.

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Centers, Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Texas A&M

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University announces a new partnership with the Texas Retailers Association as a 2017-2018 TREF grantee.

The Texas Retailers Education Foundation (TREF) is the charitable educational foundation of the Texas Retailers Association (TRA). TREF was founded to promote a better-trained workforce in retail, through investment in high school and college education programs that focus on teaching retailing career competencies. Approximately $1.4 million has been awarded from TREF to the Texas Grant Program since 2001.

“Texas A&M University is proud to partner with the Texas Retailers Association. Since opening our doors in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies’ purpose has been to promote and prepare young people for careers in retailing,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M. “This fully aligns with the Texas Retailers Education Foundation’s mission to provide scholarships and learning opportunities that encourage the next generation of retail professionals in Texas.”

For more than 90 years, TRA has represented retail professionals in Texas, and provided them with a voice in Austin and Washington D.C. TRA has worked to support and protect the concerns of its members through government advocacy, industry information, education programs, and scholarship funds.

Members of TRA include major Texas-based retailers such as H-E-B, JCPenney, and Academy Sports + Outdoors, as well as hundreds of independent jewelry shops, hardware stores, specialty apparel boutiques, booksellers, and more.

As a TREF grantee, Texas A&M becomes the first Tier 1 Research university to partner with TRA.

“Developing transformational leaders to work at companies that drive a robust state economy is central to the public service that a flagship university like Texas A&M provides,” Hollinger added. “The distinction as a Texas Retailer’s Education Foundation recipient university is an honor.”

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M

By Jeffrey Quinn ’20

Business Honors and finance

On May 10th, I embarked on my journey to Mbale, Uganda, where I volunteered with an organization called HELP International. HELP International is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has volunteer programs in multiple locations across the world, but has had volunteers on the ground in Uganda for the last seven years. My volunteer experience lasted for six weeks from May 12th to June 23rd. I had a lot of individuals try to discourage me from traveling to Uganda because of the danger they associated with living in Africa, but I was determined to empower Ugandans in their fight against poverty.

I will never forget the six weeks I spent working in Mbale and the lessons that the truly amazing local men and women taught me.

A problem to solve

One of HELP’s most important partnerships was with an orphanage in the Sibwala Village that is home to 300 orphans. The most immediate problem that faced the orphanage was its failure to be sustainable if HELP International no longer provided funding. One of the most vital lessons I learned during this internship is the importance of sustainability when doing developmental work. The most effective form of developmental work is providing individuals with knowledge and the ability to be sustainable without any outside intervention. This is why I felt it was important to immediately tackle the failure of the Sibwala Orphanage to be sustainable.

…Read more

Categories: Business Honors, Center for Business International Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Finance, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M