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

Julie Orzabal, director of the Executive MBA program at Mays, got the experience of a lifetime recently! Selected under the Navy’s Key Influencers program, Orzabal was able to fly as a backseat rider in the Blue Angel’s Jet Number 7 with Lt. Tyler Davies. She posed mid-air with the Executive MBA Class of 2018 Class Coin.

The Blue Angels celebrate their 70th anniversary this year and were in Houston Oct. 22-23 for the Wings Over Houston Airshow.

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Categories: Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, News, Staff, Texas A&M

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) has recently been restructured. Don Lewis has been appointed as director of the Blackstone LaunchPad Initiative at Texas A&M University.

Chuck Hinton, who works with the NSF I-Corps program at Startup Aggieland, will assume many of the responsibilities of the assistant director of Startup Aggieland. He will also continue to serve the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Corps (I-Corps) program.

Earlier this year, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation expanded its campus entrepreneurship program to include Texas A&M University along with the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at Dallas. Established by the foundation’s three-year, $3 million grant, the partnership between the three institutions will introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and offer opportunities to the universities’ 130,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system. The CNVE was tasked with leading the initiative across campus.

The goals of the initiative are to identify 10 percent of the student body and engage them in a meaningful way in the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus, from one-on-one mentoring to entrepreneurial-oriented events and more.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Management, Mays Business, News, Staff, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M

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Ben Welch

To strengthen ties with its corporate partners in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, Texas A&M’s Mays Business School hosted more than 60 companies at AT&T Stadium – home of the Dallas Cowboys – on Sept. 23.

The focus of the reception and networking event was to explore opportunities with the Center for Executive Development (CED) at Mays.

Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young, Mays Dean Eli Jones and Mays Assistant Dean for Executive Education Ben Welch spoke of the importance of lifelong learning and how Mays Business School is stepping up to provide it.

The CED offers executive certificates in business essentials, energy, health care, construction and cyber data in programs at the College Station campus and on the sites of the clients around the world. The programs are geared toward individuals who are serving in managerial/leadership roles who would like to refine their higher-level business skills and those who are preparing to enter a management-level position.

Young said the high caliber and strong work ethic of Texas A&M students and faculty have affirmed his decision to come here 18 months ago. He called it a “unique and extraordinary institution,” where the work the faculty is doing is of global import. “They are going to teach you how to use the knowledge and how to work with others. The students come to this university wanting to be citizens of substance, and they’re working with faculty members who feel the same way.”

The event was part of an expanded outreach to Mays alumni and corporate partners. The guests were corporate leaders from the Dallas area, and Jones said the business school partners with corporate leaders. “You’re here because you’re curious and you want to take your organization to the next level,” he said. “We at Mays can help you do that.”

Mays recently set a vision to  “advance the world’s prosperity,” building on three Grand Challenges: Entrepreneurship, energy and healthcare. Faculty members with expertise in those areas were available at the Dallas event to visit with the guests about how Mays is addressing them.

In his keynote speech, Welch – who has led the CED since 1990 – described five things that will guarantee return on investment: Priorities, respect, integrity, determination and enthusiasm. He said it is essential that each person express his priorities to those around him.

He targeted his message to the executives in the room who are developing their employees. “We want you to come away with what is integral at Texas A&M, and that is these five characteristics,” he said. “We want you to look at partnering with Mays Business School for one day, five days or a series of classes.”

Welch described the Leading Champions Program, a new experiential learning program that will launch in April. Mays and the Texas A&M Athletics Department are partnering to give participants exclusive access to athletic staff, facilities and social events. Enrollment will be limited to 30 people, and a highlight of the event was a drawing in which Debbie Hinson from Accenture received a free enrollment to the program.

Nancy Cramer, who received a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1984 and is now president of Dallas-based Correct Course Consulting, said she enjoyed meeting with Mays leaders and learning about the school’s programs. “I look forward to renewing my relationships with the school and connecting with the students and faculty there,” she said.

 

Categories: Centers, Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Mays Business School graduates Lisa Burton and Ann Strouhal have been named among the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA)’s 2017 Top Ten Business Women of the Year.

The Top Ten Business Women of ABWA honors women around the country who achieve excellence in their careers, education and community involvement. The women will be recognized at ABWA’s National Women’s Leadership Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn., in October. One will be chosen as the Top Business Woman of the Year.

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Burton has worked for the Texas A&M University Career Center for four years with a focus on career advising juniors and seniors in Mays Business School. She earned her Master of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M’s Mays Business School in 2010 and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Radio-TV-Film from Sam Houston State University in 1992. Burton also completed a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Management from The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M.

Burton is a member of the Leading Women Express Network (LWEN) of ABWA. She has served on LWEN’s board in several roles, including VP of Membership, VP of Hospitality and VP of Networking. She is currently serving as the advisor for the Texas A&M Student Chapter of ABWA and President-Elect of the Brazos County A&M Club.

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Strouhal is owner of Strouhal & Associates in Pearland, Texas, and holds both the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification and the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Professional certification. Strouhal received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in 1981 and a Master of Business Administration in HR from the University of Houston Clear Lake in 2012.

Strouhal is also actively involved in her community as a member of the Pearland Chamber of Commerce, the Daughters of the American Revolution and St. Helen Catholic School Board of Directors. She is a member of the South East Express Network of ABWA.

 

Categories: Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M

Damien Harmon delivered his message about building trust with customers — who he called “boss”— to a packed house of nearly 500 students, faculty and staff at Mays Business School on Sept. 7. Harmon, the vice president of operations at Bridgestone Retail Operations, was the featured speaker of the 19th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series, hosted by The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School.

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Journey onward

A father of six and a former NFL player, Harmon began his career in retail while working as a store manager for Best Buy. Overseeing $16 million in sales annually, he demonstrated his ability to lead and know different types of people. He was soon selected to oversee the opening of Best Buy operations in China and Turkey.

From an early age, Harmon’s success was credited to his mother for her entrepreneurial spirit and determination to see her children do well in life. Growing up in small town Gary, Indiana, academic study became the promise to a broader world. Through his mother’s encouragement, he developed an outside-the-box mindset that would propel him forward.

Logging upwards of a million miles a year to implement and grow Best Buy’s international business, Harmon developed expertise in marketing and store operations with the electronics giant, before joining Bridgestone Retail Operations.

Harmon’s eagerness to embrace challenge became the foundation for his current role as vice president of operations, leading to development of its strategic customer experience platform. He also maintains direct responsibility over retail operations, supply chain, IT, customer retention and service capability. …Read more

Categories: Centers, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Programs, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Two long-time employees retired Aug. 31 from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, which is part of Mays Business School.

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William “Judon” Fambrough stepped down after 39 years with the center. He has been one of the center’s most prolific writers and one of its most requested speakers. An attorney, Judon has written extensively about Texas property rights, including oil and gas, wind power, hunting leases and landowner liability.

Fambrough was a senior lecturer. He has held a joint appointment with the Agricultural Economics Department, where he taught Oil and Gas Law and Agricultural Law. He served in Vietnam as a Forward Observer, where he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He used his GI Bill to attend law school.

Assistant Director Claudia Orum retired after 27 years of service with the Texas A&M System.

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Orum joined the Real Estate Center staff in March 2013, bringing with her 24 years of Texas A&M experience and 12 years of banking and corporate experience. She has overseen the business and financial aspects of the center, as well as the human resource functions.

Before joining the Real Estate Center staff, Orum was with Mays’ Center for International Business Studies for 15 years and the Texas Forest Service for eight. Prior to that, she worked for 12 years with the private sector in Houston.

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

Dwight Garey ’67 has joined the Commercial Banking Program at Mays Business School as executive director. He will lead the program, which provides well-trained talent to the banking industry while introducing Texas A&M University students to outstanding career opportunities. The program combines academics and industry exposure, and every student enrolls in a summer internship.

Garey is an executive professor in the Department of Finance at Mays. He will teach banking-related courses in Commercial Credit, Enterprise Risk Management, and Sales of Financial Products and Services. In addition, as executive director, Dwight will promote the mission of the Commercial Banking Program with a focus on increasing enrollments and revenue generation.

He was involved in the formation of the Commercial Banking Program. From the beginning, he served on the Executive Council of the Banking Advisory Board, and was head of the program’s Bank Membership Committee. …Read more

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Finance, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M

Researchers work to revolutionize how health care institutions clean surfaces

“Technology boot camp” is how Virender Sharma, a professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, describes his experience at Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a National Science Foundation (NSF) program that helps scientists bring their discoveries out the laboratory and toward the commercial market.

“One thing I discovered during this process is that the science is only 20 percent of it,” Sharma said. “The other 80 percent is just business—how you sell it, how you make deals.”

Sharma’s work using ferrate ions—which are iron ions that have lost four or more of their electrons—as a disinfectant has been shown to be extremely successful in the lab, and he was starting to wonder if it was time to make a commercial product.

“I think Dr. Sharma was disappointed when he found out that I wasn’t a consultant who would tell him if his technology has value,” said Chuck Hinton, director of NSF I-Corps at Texas A&M, which is part of Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. “He was going to have to figure that out for himself, and that is the key of this program.”

Although other Texas A&M Health Science Center researchers have participated in regional I-Corps programs, Sharma and his team are the first to participate in a national cohort. The other members of the team were Jashanpreet Singh, a postdoctoral fellow in Sharma’s lab who served as the entrepreneurial lead on the project, and Chetan Jinadatha, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and chief of infectious diseases at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple.

Jinadatha’s work focuses on infections acquired in hospitals and other health care settings, which sicken 722,000 people and kill about 75,000 per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Examples of this type of infection include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. “Between 40 and 50 percent of such infections are related to improper cleaning of surfaces,” Jinadatha said.

Current disinfectants are effective at cleaning surfaces but have an off-putting odor and can cause damage to hospital equipment and materials and irritation of eyes and skin. “You also have to read the directions carefully,” Jinadatha said. “They have to be sprayed on a surface, left to sit for a period of time, and then wiped off, or they do not disinfect properly.”

The team completed more than 110 in-person interviews in five weeks with stakeholders and potential customers, including hospital environmental services workers (housekeepers), infection control practitioners, physicians and hospital administrators.

“One great thing we learned is that so many fellow Aggies want to help you,” Sharma said. “They were ready to meet with us, and I was really surprised about how nice everyone was and generous with their time and opinions.” Through this extensive interview process, the team was able to learn what issues people were having with existing cleaning products and what a new product would have to do in order to make their lives or jobs easier.

“This program is invaluable for helping faculty members evaluate the market opportunity and customer need for their technology,” Hinton said.

In this case, Sharma and the rest of the team found that because busy people tend not to have time to spray a disinfectant and let it sit for several minutes, the infectious pathogens aren’t being destroyed, and they go on to infect the next patient.

“I was surprised that there is a real problem with these disinfectants in hospitals,” Sharma said. “They’re often not being properly used, and so they’re not working.”

Ferrate doesn’t have these limitations. Sharma has recently patented his liquid ferrate technology, which solved the inherent issues related to stability of ferrate in solution form, and now needs to be tested for its commercial viability as a surface disinfectant for health care facilities. The team sees the next step as the creation of a spray disinfectant of the ferrate solution.

“There is interest in the product, but we need more data before we can start a small business or collaborate within existing companies to commercialize the product,” Sharma said. The team’s next step is to apply for an Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) grant that will allow them to further develop their research.

“I’m even more committed to ferrate than I was before,” Sharma added.

Singh was awarded best entrepreneurial lead and the most improved. “That’s really a big deal,” Hinton said. “I’m really extremely proud of this team. They went in prepared and worked hard and ended up being the best one there.”

By Christina B. Sumners, Texas A&M Health Science Center

Categories: Featured Stories, I-Corps, Mays Business, News, Programs, Staff, Texas A&M

gI_67033_Shelly BrenckmanShelly Brenckman, marketing coordinator at Texas A&M University’s Startup Aggieland, was named the 2015 International Brand Master, announced competition sponsor, Educational Marketing Group, Inc. (EMG) http://www.emgonline.com. This international award, now in its seventh year, is presented annually to an exemplary educational brand manager. Brenckman took top honors for her ability to create a story-centered brand while utilizing creative and traditional marketing techniques with zero dollars in the marketing budget.

Startup Aggieland, powered by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, keeps Brenckman busy as the only full-time staff member in the 1 1/2 employee program. She developed the name of the program and brand identity through strategic story telling techniques. In addition, she utilized guerilla marketing, event promotion, social media platforms, and media releases. Brenckman collaborated with Texas A&M’s Marketing & Communications division to get their support for distribution and to amplify Startup Aggieland’s message with their own media releases. She worked with campus publications to help spread the word about Texas A&M’s student startups and accelerator, including Aggiebound magazine for future students and their parents, and The Battalion student daily.

One of the first things that Brenckman did was to organize a stylish photo shoot to showcase Startup Aggieland students as part of its branding. These photos helped the brand have a consistent theme throughout all digital and print materials so it would be easily recognizable and stand out. The brand was also promoted using t-shirt marketing, event/mobile app marketing, and giveaways Brenckman carefully protects the Startup Aggieland brand so it is not overused and maintains its mystique. She also has utilized popup banners to promote Startup Aggieland’s academic partners and sponsors, as well as the brand itself.

“When I think of Startup Aggieland, I think of Shelly,” said Rodney Hill, presidential professor, former assistant dean, and founding board member of Startup Aggieland. “She helped raise it from an idea, nourished it to where it is a nationally-recognized business accelerator for students, and now faculty, too. During her involvement with Startup Aggieland, the three-year-old program has been showcased at the White House in Washington D.C. and students in the program have earned many awards at international pitch competitions. Shelly is the marketing soul of Startup Aggieland, having come up with the name and brand identity.”

Brenckman competed against two other strong finalists to win top honors in the International Brand Master competition. Katie Kempf, alumnae relations and special events, Ursuline Academy, St. Louis, Missouri, and Johanna Lowe, head of marketing, communications, and engagement, University of Sydney, Australia, were runners up. Brenckman competed with an initial field of seven exceptional nominees, five of whom hailed from the United States, one from Australia, and one from United Kingdom.

“We are honored to recognize Shelly Brenckman’s outstanding marketing skills. She conceived the Startup Aggieland brand and produced extraordinary results while working as the sole full-time staff member, making her a standout in the competition,” said Bob Brock, EMG president.

Colleagues in education branding will be able to hear more from Brenckman, as EMG will honor her success with a series of interviews during the coming months.

More information on the 2015 International Brand Master and Startup Aggieland, can be found at http://emgonline.com/ibm-award/past-awards/2015-master/.

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SHELLY BRENCKMAN BACKGROUND
Shelly Brenckman wears many hats at Startup Aggieland as the facility’s only full-time employee since May 2013. Although her title at Startup Aggieland is marketing coordinator, she also serves as a mentor, event planner and office manager with some responsibility for managing student workers and representing Startup Aggieland at outside events. She helps Assistant Director Don Lewis with strategic planning, creating new programming and developing related course curriculum. In particular, her work focuses on donor development, sponsor and speaker recruitment, and recruitment of mentors and new student entrepreneurs. As marketing coordinator, Shelly is the webmaster and social media manager, as well as the mobile app manager. She creates all branding for Startup Aggieland and communicates the facility’s story both internally and externally through print, radio, social media and gorilla marketing. As a mentor, Shelly has advised nearly every student venture launching from Startup Aggieland and some that never became official clients. She also has advised former students and remote-learning students in other states. Shelly connects student startups with funding and board members by tapping her extensive network of alumni, administrators and CEOs. Shelly manages the 44-bed Dormcubator on campus, a residential program for freshmen and sophomores that is operated by Startup Aggieland as a Startup Living Learning Community. She teaches MGMT 289: Introduction to Entrepreneurship for Mays Business School, a multi-disciplinary course for Dormcubator students.

INTERNATIONAL BRAND MASTER AWARD BACKGROUND
The International Brand Master award was established in 2009 to bring recognition to the outstanding work of extraordinary educational brand marketing professionals from around the world. Since then, EMG received nominations from countries including Portugal, Belgium, Scotland, Netherlands, Australia, England, Canada, and the United States. This year, a blue-ribbon panel of volunteer international judges from the United States, Ireland, and England reviewed supporting materials provided by the nominees. Nominees were asked to provide responses to a number of questions related to their brand’s strategy, tactics, and provide results as well as provide several letters of support from colleagues. The judges narrowed the pool of seven nominees to three distinguished finalists. Two from the United States, Shelly Brenckman, Texas A&M University’s Startup Aggieland, and Katie Kempf, Ursuline Academy, and one from Australia, Johanna Lowe, University of Sydney. Votes to determine the winner among the three finalists were cast by brand stakeholders and fellow branding professionals from around the world. Over 120 individuals voted from around the world. The winner was chosen by a combination of public votes and the judges’ scores. For more information see: http://emgonline.com/ibm-award/.

This year’s judging panel included:

  •     Elizabeth Allen: Director of Online Communications at the American School in London in London, United Kingdom
  •     Jennifer Collins: Grants Administrator at SEAL Legacy Foundation in Virginia, United States
  •     Eilis O’Brien: Director of Communication and Marketing at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland
  •     Seth Odell: 2013 International Brand Master Winner and Vice President of Creative and Marketing Strategy at Helix Education in Utah, United States
  •     Dr. David Peck: 2014 International Brand Master Winner and Vice President of University Relations at Azusa Pacific University in California, United States
  •     Kay Zimmerman: Associate Vice Provost Marketing & Partnership Development and Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President for Academic Outreach & Entrepreneurship at North Carolina State University DELTA in North Carolina, United States
  •     Travis Brock: Chair of the 2015 International Brand Master Award committee, and Director of Business Development and Social Media for Educational Marketing Group, Inc. in Colorado, United States (replacement judge)

ABOUT EMG
EMG is a full-service, integrated brand development and marketing agency that provides custom-tailored research, brand development, creative, development, new media services, and media services for universities throughout North America. Headquartered in Parker, Colorado, the company was established in 1997 and has operated in the higher education arena exclusively for 19 years. Clients have included Colorado Community College System, North Carolina State University, Washington State University, Virginia Tech, Cal Poly, Dalhousie University, University of Victoria, University of Colorado, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Wyoming, and many others. More information can be found at http://www.emgonline.com.

  • written by Educational Marketing Group

Categories: Centers, Departments, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M