AgScents

By Kristopher Muir, Clinical Assistant Professor

Imagine you’re a Mays graduate student and you just got out of class. In addition to walking to the library, you’re checking voicemails on your phone related to your team’s startup company. In addition to looking at social media to see what your friends are up to, you’re checking your company’s social media page for analytics. During your coffee break, you’re huddling with your CFO, CEO, and other team members in order to solve the latest crisis: your supplier has canceled your order. What do you do? If you can imagine any of these scenarios, you might be a Master of Science (MS) in Business student.

In its second year, the MS Business program is the newest graduate program offered at Mays Business School. MS Business is a 36-hour, 11-month general business graduate degree offered to students who do not have a business undergraduate education.

Mays Business School students have spent this semester “learning business by doing business” through the integrated business experience (IBE) course, designed to teach MS Business students how to start and run their own business in only one semester. In only its second year, the four student-run companies earned a collective profit of $18,352 that they were able to donate to local charities in addition to the 229 service hours. These numbers serve to validate that the MS Business program aligns with both the Mays vision of advancing the world’s prosperity and the Mays Grand Challenge of Entrepreneurship. …Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

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 innovative 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.

…Read more

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

App acts as social media address book

Mays Business School’s focus on the entrepreneurial mindset is personified in the success of Mays marketing senior Dylan Secrest ’17, the CEO and creator of SyncLink.

Dylan SecrestSyncLink is a new iPhone application that allows users to consolidate friends on all social media platforms, as well as store other forms of contact information, in one place. His vision was to “simplify the way the world connects, and essentially create a social media address book.”

Once a user has downloaded the app and created an account, he can sync social media profiles onto the SyncLink account and share it with the world. From there, the user can connect with other SyncLink users on social media with the click of a button.

Secrest has released the app locally, and has garnered more than 400 users and plans to expand further. He and his business partners – Noah Kaplan of Cornell University and Jay Dickey ’17, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in political science and is now a prospective law student – recently joined Startup Aggieland, a business incubator on campus. They are working with several entrepreneurs-in-residence and software mentors, and have applied to MassChallenge Texas.

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Startup Aggieland, 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

By Dorian Martin ’06, The Texas A&M Foundation

The entrepreneurial spirit of longtime Texas A&M University benefactor Arthur “Artie” McFerrin Jr. will continue to inspire future generations of Aggies through the renaming of Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) in his honor.

McFerrin, who passed away Aug. 8 after a long battle with leukemia, consistently supported Texas A&M’s academic and athletic programs with major gifts. The 1965 graduate of Texas A&M University is the namesake of the McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, the McFerrin Athletic Center (the indoor football complex and track stadium) and the Cox-McFerrin Basketball Center.

“Widely known as one of the most generous, humble and understated leaders in business, Artie gave more in his life than he ever took,” said Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel. “He set a standard few others will ever achieve as a man of character and conviction focused on the future. It is fitting that the newly renamed McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship will bear the name of someone so focused on giving others opportunities.”

The CNVE’s renaming was made possible through a $10 million gift from McFerrin and his wife, Dorothy. These funds will advance the center’s work as an international leader in entrepreneurial education. “We are truly grateful to the McFerrin family,” said Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School. “Artie’s spirit lives on through the thousands of lives he has influenced and will continue to influence. His heart for Texas A&M and entrepreneurship beats in the hearts of those Aggies who choose to be courageous enough to create solutions to the world’s biggest problems—those who are indeed fearless.”

Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Jr. ’65

Funds will further help the center more effectively prepare aspiring entrepreneurs to succeed in a turbulent global economy. “Our goal is to create a state-of-the-art center that equips young people for starting and growing their ventures,” said Richard Lester, the center’s executive director. “With this support, we can expand our reach and impact while linking existing programs for a cohesive experience. More than grooming specific skills, we hope to train students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset: to believe they can achieve and not give up when the going gets tough.”

…Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Centers, Donors Corner, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Odin Clack ’02 was just looking for a hobby that would spur his creativity, but his entrepreneurial spirit turned what began as a pastime into Odin Leather Goods, a thriving regional brand.

The seeds of the small business were planted in 2012 when Clack, a corporate director of online marketing, went into a leather shop on a whim and picked up the tools and materials he needed to make a laptop sleeve. 

Soon, his experiment bloomed into a hobby that began to consume a good portion of his evenings and weekends. “Hobbies are expensive,” he said. “I started wondering, ‘How can I get a return?’”

The Dallas-area resident quickly figured out how to turn his passion for leatherworking into a business and now makes a significant side income from his creations. He also has leveraged a small budget, his contacts, and social media to double his business and gain loyal customers around the world.

Clack – who handles all of the production, marketing and shipping – primarily focused on improving his processes in order to increase production. When he started working with leather, he made two to three wallets a week. Now he produces more than 50 wallets along with other types of leather goods in that time span. “I ship 20-30 orders per week. Half are outside the state of Texas,” he said. “It is also normal for me to have bulk orders each week that consist of 50-100 pieces. I would have thought this was impossible four years ago given that I’m a one man shop. By focusing on efficiently managing resources and my processes I’ve been able to dramatically improve production speed.”

Clack currently is focusing on making Odin Leather Goods into a significant regional brand. He also is starting to do co-branded work with a variety of well-established companies, including Southwest Airlines, Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion, Jack Mason watches, Renaissance Hotels, and Rolls Royce.

Adding fuel to the entrepreneurial spirit

Clack, who earned a degree in marketing, credits Mays and Texas A&M University for instilling a strong work ethic and fueling his entrepreneurial spirit. He especially appreciates Mays internships, which gave him the opportunity to get real-world experience.  

As a student, he held a staff position in Texas A&M’s Department of Multicultural Services Department and served as co-chair for the Southwestern Black Leadership Conference. During his time in school, Clack also started a few businesses, including a small company in which he created web designs. “I came out of Texas A&M with a resume that showed a history of production, a history of work, and a history of success,” he said. “And I had numbers to back it up instead of just having a resume full of activities.”

New horizons opening up

Unlike many entrepreneurs who have a side business, Clack doesn’t want to eliminate his day job. “I enjoy what I do, and I’ve put the last 10-15 years into building my professional career,” he said. “My side business is a way to keep my creativity going, generate some additional income, and network.”

In an unexpected turn, Clack is beginning to share what he has learned from Mays, his day job and his small business with other entrepreneurs who are part of the maker’s movement.  “I have met a whole lot of great people and worked with a ton of great businesses in the area (through Odin Leather Goods),” he said. “Some of those contacts now are turning into consulting gigs. They’re looking at how I have grown my business and they’re asking, ‘How can I grow my business too?’”

Clack believes the combination of entrepreneurship and creativity offers a very viable way to earn a living. “In this day and age, with very little money in your pocket and a little bit of determination, you can generate significant income just off of good ideas, focus and a lot of hustle.”

 

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Dayana Hansley ’18 had an eventful freshman year. She struggled in her engineering classes during the first semester. At the same time, the Abilene native and her team took first place in the 2014 Aggies Invent competition, a 48-hour engineering innovation competition.

The combination of these two occurrences altered Hansley’s trajectory in both college and in life. She changed her major in order to earn a university studies business degree with minors in leadership studies and communications. The winner of Aggies Invent also transferred to Mays Business School’s Startup Aggieland, where she gained guidance in entrepreneurism and the resources to figure out how to bring her team’s invention, the Motley Tool, to the marketplace.

Coming back to a childhood dream

Hansley’s interest in entrepreneurship started at an early age. “I’ve always dreamed of owning my own company,” she said. “Even as a child, I would make handmade cards to give to my parents and family members for holidays. I would always write ‘Dayana Inc.’ on the back, hoping that one day I would have my own company.”

That dream eventually faded away. “As I grew up, I didn’t think it was realistic and I put the idea of entrepreneurship to the side,” she said.

However, winning Aggies Invent put her back on the path that she dreamed about in her youth. “Startup Aggieland opened my eyes to entrepreneurism,” she said. “I learned that owning my own business is possible and it is not as crazy as people make it seem.”

Hansley quickly tapped into the business incubator’s mentoring and resources, including free legal assistance. In addition, she worked with Startup Aggieland’s staff to patent the Motley Tool.

She also found that Startup Aggieland offered a nurturing environment that helped her juggle the opportunities she was being offered while remaining focused on her classes and own self-care. “When they pull you in, they make sure you are taken care of,” said Hansley, who is president of Texas A&M’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. “They also make sure you are doing well in school because Startup Aggieland does realize that you’re here for school.” …Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

The 24 veterans who completed a week of small business management training with Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School left Saturday armed with information, enthusiasm and commitment.

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) July 15-22 provided valued skills to leverage post-9/11 military service in pursuit of business ownership.

This year’s program marks the 10th anniversary of EBV at Texas A&M. The new name – Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Program – recognizes a $2 million dollar endowment provided by the Reynolds and Reynolds company to support EBV at Texas A&M. The gift is part of Texas A&M’s “Lead by Example” campaign that launched in 2016.

Some of the ventures were:

  • Keys to your City, a social media application developed by Jesse Simpson to connect veterans and help them adjust after reintegration
  • Coventry Medical Recruiting, a staffing company to Kevin Cross created to connect nurses, nurse practitioners with family practice healthcare providers
  • Titan Environmental Solutions, a company Maggie Peterson created to sell muscle walls, a low-density poly-ethylene structure
  • Corporate Hires Solutions, a staffing company created by Jason Hendricks
    Urgent Air Designs, an e-commerce site created by Todd Taylor that gives back 20 percent to the teams
  • 1st Quality Property Management, a property management company created by Charlie Moehlenbrock
  • Elemental Fitness and Wellness Clinic, a health and wellness clinic created by Megan Williams

Robert Burnett ’87, senior vice president of Reynolds & Reynolds, described the week’s long hours and hard work. “The quality of teaching and mentorship was incredible,” he said.

Burnett said he observed “extreme discipline” and “a commitment to task” in the participants, as well as the ability to adapt to a situation, or pivot. “They now have the opportunity to impact their community, state, nation,” he said before declaring them “fit for the job.”

The EBV was founded in 2007 at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, and has expanded to include 10 universities, including Mays Business School at Texas A&M. These 10 institutes of higher education deliver EBV to veterans who desire to develop the skills and tools needed to launch and maintain successful businesses. Assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), corporate partners, foundations and private donors allow participants to attend the program cost-free.

EBV is a three-phase program, beginning with a three-week online instructor-led course where participants shape business plans and learn business language. During the second phase, participants complete an intensive eight-day residency at a university, learning the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership from established entrepreneurs and educators. Following the residency, EBV graduates will receive access to a year-long support and mentorship program through EBV Technical Assistance, managed by the IVMF.

The week in numbers:

  • 144 hours
  • 50 speakers/panelists
  • 39 hours in class
  • 12 hours with mentors
  • 59 pots of coffee
  • 87 Snickers
  • 432 bottles of water
  • 600+ slides

 

 

 

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M