Odin Clack ’02 was just looking for a hobby that would spur his creativity. Instead, his pastime has combined with Clack’s entrepreneurial spirit to turn 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 Oden 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 Multiultural 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

For Roger Montemayor ’99, entrepreneurship is synonymous with confidence.

His guiding question is simple: “Do you believe enough in yourself to take on great risk for great gain?”

Believing in himself to take risks has been integral to his success in taking the helm of his father’s company, Victory Insurance, and growing it to the point of attracting the attention of the one of the largest brokerage firms in the world, Arthur J. Gallagher, where he is now area president.

Since he was a college student majoring in business management, he has had all the makings of an entrepreneurial spirit — drive, passion, and a love of leading others to accomplish great things.

“I knew early on that I wanted my performance to control my destiny and took a job offer from my dad to work in sales,” he said. He worked for his father’s company Victory Insurance selling commercial property and casualty to businesses in around the Houston area.

In 2009, Montemayor decided to purchase the agency from his dad and his partner.

“Immediately after he closed, I formulated a plan to diversify our business and focus heavily on growth. I created a personal lines division, that focused on high net worth, complex personal insurance needs. I also opened up a group benefits division, Victory Benefits Advisors.”

Montemayor said that both of these divisions created instant organic growth for the company. By 2016, he had doubled the top line growth of his agency.

Montemayor said he has always had a passion to build business and to lead. “I think it’s because I love the pressure, I love the hustle, I love competition and I’ve never been complacent.”

Montemayor easily recalls a highlight of his career: In 2016, when Fortune 500 company Arthur J. Gallagher sought out with interest in a merger.

The rewards of his endeavors with Victory Insurance have been vast for Montemayor, especially when it comes to the people with whom he works. “I love the responsibility of taking care of my employees,” he said. “It’s extremely fulfilling to know that if I do my job the way that I should, many others will also share in the success.”

Montemayor also underscored that his background at Mays has been invaluable in helping him succeed. “The environment at Mays promoted competition and cultivated a drive that prepared me for the real world.” He credited the community of professors and mentors who were attentive to his preparation and growth.

He added that that the strength of the Aggie network has been crucial. “As Aggies, we take care of each other and we do business with each other. I’ve created so many professional relationships with Aggies, it’s unbelievable.”

 

 

 

Categories: Alumni, Center for Executive Development, Entrepreneurship, Management, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Aspiring veteran entrepreneurs will receive small business management training at Texas A&M University during the annual Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) July 15-22. This year’s program marks the 10th anniversary of EBV at Texas A&M and comes with a new title and partner. Veterans will come to the College Station campus to leverage valued skills from military service in pursuit of business ownership.

Founded in 2007 at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, EBV has now expanded to include ten world-class universities, including Mays Business School at Texas A&M. These 10 institutes of higher education deliver EBV to post-9/11 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.

This year’s program at Texas A&M is renamed Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Program to recognize 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, and celebrates the tenth anniversary of EBV’s success at Texas A&M.

Reynolds and Reynolds has always been a strong partner of Mays Business School, consistently recruiting talent from Texas A&M and as a founding partner of the Mays Professional Selling Initiative. As a company, Reynolds and Reynolds provide automotive retailing solutions for car dealers and automakers in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Europe. It is headquartered in Dayton, Ohio with more than 4,300 associates worldwide.

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 will 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.

Visit ebv.vets.syr.edu for more information on EBV.

Media contacts:

Shanna Spencer, Program Manager, CNVE

(979) 845-0619, sspencer@mays.tamu.edu

or

Kelli Levey Reynolds, Mays Business School

(979) 845-3167, klevey@mays.tamu.edu

About the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) is a first-of-its-kind initiative that transforms veterans into entrepreneurs. Delivered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, the EBV leverages the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans and transitioning service members with service-related disabilities. Founded at Syracuse University in 2007, the program has since expanded to nine additional universities across the U.S., including Cornell University, Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Purdue University, Saint Joseph’s University, Texas A&M University, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Connecticut and University of Missouri.  Assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), corporate partners and donors allows participants to attend the program at no cost. For more information, visit ebv.vets.syr.edu and follow the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.

About the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

Through a combination of entrepreneurial-focused curricular and experiential opportunities, The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) seeks to enhance the livelihood of Texas A&M University and the greater community. Since its inception in 1999, the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) has served as the hub of entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University.

Our goal is to enhance student education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and alumni. With the support of our volunteer network, corporate supporters, faculty, and staff, CNVE 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. For more information about the EBV Program at Texas A&M, visit ebv.tamu.edu.

About Texas A&M University and Mays Business School

Texas A&M University, currently enrolling more than 45,000 students, is the oldest public university in the state. One of its most cherished traditions and legacies is the Corp of Cadets. With the exception of the service academies, A&M’s Corps makes up the nation’s largest uniformed student body, with approximately 1,800 students participating, and annually commissions more officers than any other institution. To date, more than 220 former cadets have achieved the rank of general or admiral. Since 1968, Mays Business School has been training ethical business leaders to impact the global society. Mays is nationally ranked among public business schools for the quality of its academic programs and faculty scholarship and currently enrolls more than 4,000 undergraduate students and 875 graduate students. Mays is home to seven centers that advance innovative theory and best practices in a broad range of business functional areas including new ventures and entrepreneurship. These centers offer a direct connect for faculty and professionals to collaborate on research, and for students to be exposed to ideas advancing business today.

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families. Through its professional staff and experts, the IVMF delivers leading programs in career, vocational, and entrepreneurship education and training, while also conducting actionable research, policy analysis, and program evaluations. The IVMF also supports communities through collective impact efforts that enhance delivery and access to services and care. The Institute, supported by a distinguished advisory board, along with public and private partners, is committed to advancing the lives of those who have served in America’s armed forces and their families. For more information, visit ivmf.syracuse.edu and follow the IVMF on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

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

Texas A&M University is tied with the University of Michigan for having the most graduates currently serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to a new Fortune magazine study.

With four former students serving as CEOs of some of the largest companies in the United States, Texas A&M has the most of any university in Texas and is only matched by the University of Michigan. Other schools on the Fortune list include Cornell University and Harvard University, both with three CEO graduates.

Texas A&M also is the only Texas school in the survey with a CEO on Fortune’s Top Ten list. Darren Woods, CEO and chairman of Exxon Mobil, studied electrical engineering at Texas A&M and is a 1987 graduate. His wife, Kathryn Woods, is also a 1987 Texas A&M graduate who earned a degree in accounting from Mays Business School.

This year’s Fortune list also includes Bruce D. Broussard, CEO of Humana, Class of 1984; David M. Cordani, CEO of Cigna, Class of 1988. Both Broussard and Cordani earned degrees in accounting from Mays Business School.

“Texas A&M has always been committed to developing leaders of character and the mission of Mays Business School is to develop transformational leaders,” says James Benjamin, head of the department of accounting at Mays Business School. “Beyond that, accounting is often referred to the language of business and graduates are well positioned for success is all aspects of organizations. Both Mr. Broussard and Mr. Cordani worked as auditors with major public accounting firms and became CPA’s before transitioning to the corporate world. Many believe that the discipline and work ethic required in public accounting provides good preparation for leadership roles in business.”

Not included in this year’s survey is Jeff Miller, who was recently appointed as president and CEO of Halliburton Co.  Miller received an MBA from Mays Business School in 1988.

Read more here: http://today.tamu.edu/2017/07/05/texas-am-heads-fortune-magazine-ceo-list/

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Departments, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, News, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University’s military heritage, combined with its world-class business school, makes it the ideal place for today’s veterans to prepare for a career beyond the armed forces. To that end, Mays Business School’s Center for Executive Development is launching the Veteran Accelerated Management Program (VAMP) in partnership with the VETTED Foundation to help high-performance U.S. military veterans transition to the business world.

(Watch a video here)

This program enhances Texas A&M’s well-established reputation as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans. “Our armed forces have displayed their commitment to our country through their many years of service,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “This program is one way that Texas A&M can salute their service and help these proven leaders successfully enter civilian life so they can continue to be a productive part of society.”

…Read more

Categories: Center for Executive Development, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

Mays Business School’s Master of Science in Business program congratulated 40 students in its inaugural graduating class with a hooding ceremony at the end of the Spring 2017 semester. ‘Jon Jasperson, MS Business Academic Director, spoke highly of the Class of 2017, describing the students as a diverse group that quickly became a tight-knit community.

Launched in fall 2017, the Mays MS Business program is a one-year program for students who did not study business as undergraduates. The program offers core functional knowledge in the various business disciplines and provides students hands-on experience in creating and running a real business.

“This class drew students from a variety of educational backgrounds and personal interests,” Jasperson said. “The student culture in many majors, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), is very competitive and mostly based on individual performance. As the director, it was fun to observe the change in the students as they learned about cooperation and collaboration in a team-based classroom environment.”

Jasperson said the students began to bond as a family beginning with the first block of classes of the program year. “They met every day, Monday through Friday, in the same classroom from 1:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., for four weeks. This total immersion in the MS Business classes quickly led to establishing relationships with new ‘family’ members for the students. Not only did they meet together in the classroom and for team meetings, but they also began hanging out with each other and socializing.”

…Read more

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

By Sophia Mora

On Friday, April 28, Texas A&M University held a grand opening event for a new entrepreneurship program – Blackstone LaunchPad – with tours of their studio space and the unveiling of their mobile office space.

During the event, remarks were made by Mays Business School Dean Eli Jones, Blackstone LaunchPad at Texas A&M Director Don Lewis, Blackstone LaunchPad Global Director Alisha Slye, and Blake Teipel of Essentium Materials.

Student entrepreneurs spoke about their journeys through entrepreneurship thus far and their excitement to have Blackstone LaunchPad as another entrepreneurial touchpoint on campus. The program showcased the Blackstone LaunchPad studio space in the Koldus building (Suite 105), a permanent location to conduct meetings and mentorship sessions, and a mobile kiosk, which is a traveling office used to increase the accessibility of entrepreneurship on campus.

…Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Centers, Dean Eli Jones, Departments, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M

The Raymond Ideas Challenge is a full-day business concept competition for all undergraduate and graduate students to help turn their idea, technology or prototype dream into the next product or service that will change the world. The Texas A&M University-wide Challenge invites all majors, ideas, and interests to apply.

For the second consecutive year, the Raymond Ideas Challenge also invited the winner of the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi campus’ BUC Days Ideas Challenge to compete alongside their Aggie peers. Students were encouraged throughout March and April to attend several workshops that would assist in perfecting their big idea submissions through mentoring and guidance. Students were able to begin executing the initial steps involved in developing an idea and seeing it through to fruition.

…Read more

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