By Jessie Minks ’16

On the morning of Feb. 17, the Cocanougher Center was filled with an audience of business and community leaders serving as judges, anxiously waiting to learn the mission and goal of 16 start-up companies that teamed up with the first-year students from the class of 2017’s Full-Time MBA program. Held in partnership between the Mays MBA Program and the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE), the 2017 MBA Venture Challenge wrapped up its 15th year with three winning teams going home with a total of $10,000.

The day kicked off with the first round: the elevator pitch competition. Pitches ranged from a simplified physical fitness booking app and streamlined water purifying approaches to emerging drone security system technology. Elevator pitch winners Eric Jensen, Matt Larsen, Zain Hanif and Ellen Schott took home $500 after impressing the judge and company representative audience with their interest-sparking and comical pitch for InfinitySoft, a scalable data analytics platform provider for the oil and gas industry.

This year’s MBA Venture Challenge contained 68 first-year MBA students tasked with assisting applicant companies with business advice and financial/competitive analysis on current and future market and growth strategies. Each year the MBA Venture Challenge creates high-stakes competition between teams, for both sponsored cash awards and significant bragging rights. Additionally, the competition provides networking opportunities as well as high-value insights for participating firms.

The Venture Challenge asks the MBA student teams to provide a clear, unbiased and business-oriented evaluation of their selected firm’s market and financial viability. The start-up firms are invited to apply from throughout the Aggie Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, and the MBA teams selected their favorite firm, based solely on a short summary provided by the applicants. The program operates through partnerships and sponsorship from the Aggie Angel Network, JB Knowledge and the Texas A&M University Division of Research. The original 26 business applicants came from a wide variety of industries, including human tissue engineering and ecommerce, adventure media and consumer products.

While the MBA teams were allotted only two weeks of direct contact with their assigned company representatives, they were provided feedback and direction from industry and university mentors, including the MBA program faculty and volunteer entrepreneurs. Full-Time MBA Program Director Shannon Deer explains “the MBA Venture Challenge encourages our students to integrate what they have learned across the business disciplines” and allows each team to “demonstrate the ability to navigate ambiguity and intellectual curiosity – two critical skills our employers seek in our students.”

The MBA Venture Challenge consisted of a full-day competition over three rounds of judging by an audience of experienced judges from CNVE’s network of business, academic and entrepreneurial community leaders. Each round required the teams to present a concise yet in-depth analysis of the start-up and provide meaningful recommendations for future company success.

“Now in its 15th year, the MBA Venture Challenge has clearly set the standard for high-intensity and high-impact interaction between student teams and startup ventures,” said Blake Petty, director of the CNVE. “The analysis provided by these outstanding MBAs has proven to be immediately invaluable to the participating companies, and there is simply no better way to expose our students to the real-life challenges of entrepreneurship than to immerse them into a startup…even if only for two weeks.”

For those companies or judges interested in participating in the 2018 MBA Venture Challenge, be on the lookout for application information to begin circulating in November 2017.

The winning MBA teams were announced Feb. 17 at a networking and awards reception immediately after the Venture Challenge:

$5,000 – First Place (sponsored by the Texas A&M Division of Research) – Brent Carter, Nick Cheng, Philip Spencer, Jana Soares; CelaCare

$3,000 – Second Place (sponsored by the Aggie Angel Network) – Mario Coll, Thomas Dowlearn, Eclair Lehmongkol, Ankur Soni; IntuiTap Medical

$2,000 – Third Place (sponsored by JBKnowledge) – Meagan Altman, James Cochran, Lia Rojas Unamo, Rahul Sharma; FireDisc

Learn more about the results of previous MBA Venture Challenge competitions.

 

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, MBA, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University senior Sarah Shaw is most enthusiastic about the future. The twist is it’s not her own future that’s exciting her, which has been her approach to life since her elementary school days.

“I’m excited about it because it blends my two biggest passions,” Shaw said. “I’ve played soccer since I was 6, and I’ve volunteered at the food pantry since I was 10. It’s always been one of my biggest goals to have a nonprofit, so why not start now?”

Shaw’s idea is much like TOMS Shoes, which matches shoe purchases one for one and donates the second pair to children in need. For every soccer ball Goals for Bowls sells or donation it receives, the organization will donate a soccer ball and meal to a child in Nepal or Ghana.

Charity work runs in Shaw’s family, which has logged more than 1,000 volunteer hours at the Community Enrichment Center in North Richland Hills in Fort Worth, where her father serves on the board.

“It’s always been a big part of my life, volunteering and giving food to people,” Shaw said. “I interned there to get the feel of how to run a nonprofit, and it’s been one of my biggest goals to have a nonprofit, so why not start now.”

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Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

andrew-jarrettA startup that competed in the annual MBA Venture Challenge at Mays Business School in February was recently admitted to Startup Aggieland as a client company. It joined the campus-based accelerator program’s Lifestyle group, exclusive for early-stage ventures that generate revenue.

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ResponderX is a team of technical, non-technical and emergency service providers who are dedicated to engineering safety solutions for firefighters across the nation. Volunteer firefighter Andrew Jarrett formed the company team to promote the use of TaskForceTracker, his patent-pending technology consisting of small device attaches to the top of firefighter helmets and is able to provide critical information such as location and condition of the personnel on the scene.

He said he was inspired to create TaskForce technology to save lives after two local firemen lost their lives during a Feb. 2013 rescue at the Knights of Colombus hall. “Someone got lost in the fire and we had to go search for him,” Jarrett recalled. “When the dust settled, we realized that the guy they came to rescue was very close to an external door to the back building. That’s when it came to me that there is a better way to do this.”

ResponderX founders Jarrett and Jerry Lozano participated in the annual MBA Venture Challenge through Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in February 2016. Over an intensive two-week period, they worked with two Texas A&M MBA students whose task was to complete an in-depth analysis of the business and market segment of Jarrett’s startup company, ResponderX.

“Armed with the research provided to ResponderX by the MBA team, we were able to approach serious investors for the first time with a truly accurate depiction of our business valuation and well-documented market research,” said Jarrett.

The information helped Jarrett raise almost $200,000 in funding.

“The MBA Venture Challenge may have been one of the single most important things to happen to our startup in the past year,” Jarrett explained. “The research, projections, and recommendations provided to me by the student team we were partnered with were priceless, and we continue to use the materials they created to help us in our projections to this day.”

As a client company of Startup Aggieland, ResponderX has been assigned three mentors:

  • Startup Aggieland Entrepreneur-in-Residence Nathan Day, a retired founding CTO of SoftLayer and Texas A&M former student who lives near Austin;
  • Startup Aggieland Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brian Kralyevich, a VP UX for Amazon in Seattle and a Texas A&M former student;
  • Dave Manzer, an Aggie mentor for Startup Aggieland who owns Manzer Communications in Austin;
  • Shelly Brenckman, a student co-founder and marketing coordinator as well as manager of the CNVE Mentor Network and Startup Aggieland’s Dormcubator.
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Burnt gear from the firefighters who died in February 2013 is used to demonstrate how important safety is on the fireground.

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, MBA, News, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M

Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) celebrated its 12th Annual Aggie 100 Program on Nov. 11, honoring the top 100 fastest-growing Aggie-owned and -led businesses. The 12th Man stands as an important symbol for Texas A&M University, and the 12th anniversary Aggie 100 honored all past and present honorees.

31054582776_095930f21e_zThe Class of 2016 honorees were recognized before more than 850 attendees at a first-of-its-kind Aggie 100 Reunion Gala event on Friday night in the Hall of Champions at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. The 2016 honorees were highlighted by 13 companies in the business and financial services industry, along with more than 40 companies within the construction, real estate and architectural industries. These Aggie entrepreneurs have shown that combining their passions with an unwavering drive to succeed, a healthy dose of patience and integrity to maintaining Aggie Core Values can help make Aggie companies an “overnight success.”

This year’s Summit Award was presented to the Aggie company with the highest average revenue from 2013 to 2015. James Goodman ’95, founder of Genesis Networks Enterprises in San Antonio, was honored as the 2016 Aggie 100 Summit Award recipient, with an average revenue of $868,651,989.

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Categories: Alumni, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Mays Business School students are “learning business by doing business” through the integrated business experience (IBE) course, designed to teach Master of Science (MS) in Business students the ins and outs of the major business disciplines by running a startup of their own. The program aligns with the Mays Grand Challenge of Entrepreneurship.

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Flourish

Five teams of students in the MS Business program have spent the semester identifying a product or service they would like to sell, conducting market research to determine how the product would be received, developing a business plan and requesting start-up funds. In October, Aggieland Credit Union donated up to $2,000 per company. Since then, the teams have been developing their businesses and partnering with nonprofit organizations who will receive the profits of the businesses after they close at the end of the semester.

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Categories: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MS Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

entrepTexas A&M University is on The Princeton Review’s 11th annual survey naming the 25 undergraduate and 25 graduate schools best for entrepreneurship studies for 2017, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine announced Wednesday. Texas A&M was 20th on the undergraduate list and 21st on the graduate list.

About 250 startups were launched by Texas A&M graduates in the last five years. Mays Business School is a leader in entrepreneurship on the Texas A&M campus, and has 900 students enrolled in entrepreneurship classes.

Entrepreneurial thinking aligns with Mays Business School’s vision to develop transformational leaders who possess the qualities of an entrepreneur: responsible leaders with vision and strong business competencies, exemplify selfless service and value diversity and inclusion.

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Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, MS Business, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

irelands-for-webDuane Ireland and his family – including his wife Mary Ann and their two adult children – have stepped up to endow a $50,000 scholarship to Mays Business School. The scholarship targets students pursuing a graduate degree in the Entrepreneurial Leadership track of the Professional Program of Accounting at Mays.

Ireland, who is executive associate dean of Mays Business School, is the second Mays top administrator to fund a scholarship for students. Dean Eli Jones and his wife Fern recently endowed a $50,000 gift to Mays for undergraduate students who are pursuing a degree in marketing and the Professional Selling and Sales Management career track.

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Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Donors Corner, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Management, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

The Aggie 100 held Friday night recognized the top 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by an Aggie.

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To commemorate 12th year, the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Mays Business School held an awards and reunion gala Friday evening instead of the traditional luncheon. In addition, an inaugural speaker series Friday afternoon featured Aggie 100 recipients.

The 2016 Aggie 100 class was comprised of 55 new companies and represents five states. To see the 2016 list, go to Aggie100.com.

To qualify for the award, the company must have been in business for at least five years and have had verifiable revenues of $250,000 or more for the 2013 calendar year. An Aggie must hold a majority leadership position in their company.

“The 12th Annual Aggie 100 is a very impressive representation of Aggie excellence. The companies reflect 1,352 years of experience bringing the best to their respective industries and keeping the Aggie entrepreneurial standards alive and well,” said Richard H. Lester, executive director of the CNVE.

Categories: Alumni, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

trifusiondevicesTriFusion Devices, the winner of the 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC), the world’s richest and largest student startup competition, was invited to ring the opening bell Monday at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York City. Cofounders Blake Teipel and Brandon Sweeney participated in the morning ceremony, along with representatives from RBPC and Texas A&M University, including Philippe Hercot, executive professor and director of Aggies on Wall Street at Mays Business School.

TriFusion Devices was the first Texas A&M team to win the Rice competition, the world’s largest student-centered business plan competition. The team received checks totalling nearly $400,000.  

The team illustrates a collaboration between several colleges at Texas A&M, and it bolsters the arena of health care – a priority at Texas A&M and at Mays. “So many faculty and staff members invested in these young people. The team’s success is a beautiful example of collaborating across the university and beyond,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones. “It aligns nicely with our primary mission of advancing the world’s prosperity by developing such areas as entrepreneurship and health care.”

Their project was based on breakthrough additive manufacturing products and services aimed at simplifying and expediting the process of manufacturing custom prosthetic devices. The team applies a revolutionary, patent-pending process that fuses together 3D printed parts to next-generation biomedical devices. The result is a durable, lightweight, custom-fit prosthetic device created within 48 hours, saving time, labor, and materials by eliminating the residual limb plaster-casting process and the current need for test-fit sockets.

TriFusion Devices got their start through Startup Aggieland, a globally recognized, award-winning business incubator and accelerator program at Texas A&M. Through the mentorship and experience provided by Startup Aggieland and other university initiatives, such as the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, TriFusion’s founders were able to incubate their ideas and prepare for the commercial world. In addition to the Rice University Business Plan Competition, TriFusion Devices has received several other top honors, including winning the 2016 Baylor New Venture Competition, the Raymond Ideas Challenge at Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, and the SEC Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition.

Don Lewis, the team’s mentor and coach at Startup Aggieland, said the team has a promising future. “Be on the lookout for this company,” he said. “They are a team to watch because of what they do. They’ve created a revolutionary way to 3D print plastics that are extremely durable and strong, and they are crafting them into very useful objects, like the prosthetics.”

The students plan to open a manufacturing production facility within the next few months in the Bryan-College Station area, Lewis said. Britton Eastburn, a Mays Business School MD/MBA student who was on the team at the time of the victory, has resumed medical school.  

TriFusion Devices competed against more than 750 applicants  on 42 teams from the world’s top universities before 300 judges over a three-day period to emerge as the top startup company at RBPC.

“We are grateful for the support, guidance, and encouragement that we’ve received from the Texas A&M University and Rice University programs,” Teipel said. “The experience and coaching we have received as we’ve launched our venture have proven immensely valuable to our success.”

 

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, I-Corps, Mays Business, MBA, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M