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

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

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

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

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

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

…Read more

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

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

3 Day Startup event is a 72-hour, hands-on workshop experience for Texas A&M University students of all majors. Within this three-day period, students are coached, mentored and begin executing on the critical first steps necessary to make any business idea grow successfully. Beginning on Friday afternoon, students pitch their own business idea, and teams are formed around the ideas most highly-supported by the other student participants. Then these student teams will work day and night to prepare for their final pitches on Sunday in front of a “Pro Panel” of entrepreneurial experts who have launched successful businesses across a wide array of industries. The constructive criticism and advice provided by volunteer mentors and entrepreneurs throughout the weekend provide the students with a framework and path to work toward launching a new business.

…Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, Startup Aggieland, 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

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.

…Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, MS Business, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, 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

Applications for 3 Day Startup are open until Sept. 14.

3 Day Startup is a learning-by-doing campus workshop designed to teach students entrepreneurial skills within 72 hours in a hands-on environment. This year’s workshop will be held Oct. 14-16 at Startup Aggieland, a business incubator located in Research Park.

Students are encouraged to use the weekend’s risk-free environment to work on business ideas for which they have a passion and may want to pursue after the program has ended. Mentors and professors from Texas A&M University will be available throughout the weekend to help students fine-tune their businesses.

Accepted participants will also attend a boot camp two weeks before the event, where they will learn key entrepreneurial principles and best practices for maximizing their experience in the program.

Texas A&M’s 3 Day Startup program is affiliated with 3 Day Startup, Inc., a nonprofit that helps teams run 3 Day Startup events by providing tools, resources and consulting. Learn more.

 

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

lynx with nooodles

Startup Aggieland client Lynx Toys has announced a licensing deal with Swimways, the world’s number one pool toy company. Lynx Cofounders Madison Jones, Jared Knowles and Matt Kinsel, former students at Texas A&M University are Young Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at Startup Aggieland, powered by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE). The three entrepreneurs have helped out around Startup Aggieland while continuing to work on their venture.

For the past few months, they also have traveled out-of-state for several meetings with prospective manufacturers and distributors. Ultimately, Lynx opted to license Lynx Toys to Swimways, which has products in nearly 50,000 retail stores nationwide, including Walmart, Target and Toys R Us. Swimways will manufacture, retail and develop the Lynx product line for distribution to major retailers by 2017.

“We were so impressed with the professionalism and creativity of the Lynx Toys team that we knew we had to license their product from them. The fact that they came to us with a major sporting goods retailer already on board really sealed the deal. We look forward to working with Team Lynx for many years to come,” said Monica Jones, vice president of marketing, Swimways Corporation.

Swimways is a leader in the outdoor recreational category with offices in Hong Kong, Virginia Beach and Tarbooro, NC. The privately-owned company has an exclusive partnership with Disney and Marvel to feature classic characters. Swimways was also named “Vendor of the Year” by Toys R Us and Target.

“We owe so much to the leaders of CNVE and Startup Aggieland, as well as our mentors Shelly Brenckman, T. Getterman, Burl Haigwood, Kelli Hollinger, Justin Burgdorff, Russell White and Harlie Frost,” said Matt Kinsel of Lynx Toys. “The guidance we received and relationships we made as students at Texas A&M have proven invaluable to our journey as entrepreneurs. We are honored to partner with such a successful and reputable company as Swimways, and we look forward to watching the growth of Lynx Toys.”

From kiosk to commercialization

Less than a year ago, Lynx occupied a free retail space in Post Oak Mall – generating national headlines for participating in a pilot collaboration between CBL Management in Waco, Mays Center for Retailing Studies and Startup Aggieland. The “UPC” or University/Post Oak Mall Collaboratory gave Team Lynx an opportunity to validate their market at a free kiosk last summer that became a popular attraction for young children who played while their parents shopped.

Lynx is a subsidiary of Defy Matter, a limited liability company launched last year by Kinsel, Knowles and Jones with the goal of commercializing patented technologies. Defy Matter currently owns two patented products: Lynx and MultiRag.

“Through our IP commercialization company, Defy Matter, we will continue to help inventors bring products to market,” added  Knowles. “We have several projects in the pipeline, and we look forward to evaluating more in the near future.”

CNVE Executive Director Richard Lester and recently retired Academy Sports + Outdoors CEO Rodney Faldyn facilitated introductions to Swimways for Lynx Toys. Faldyn was a frequent speaker last year in Lester’s graduate management classes and at Startup Living Learning Community’s MGMT 289 class for freshmen.

“I am excited to see the innovation and future success of the Lynx Toys brand come to market as they enter into a licensing agreement with Swimways,” Faldyn said. “The agreement will allow access to a vast array of retail to get the product to market quicker and into the hands of families for some family fun.”

lynx box

Professor Don Lewis, assistant director of Startup Aggieland, has had a strong influence on the young founders through his business advice and by making sure they participated in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that supported them by representing the business accelerator and CNVE. He provided them with speaking opportunities on campus, as well as at meetings of the Federation of A&M Mothers Clubs and A&M Clubs statewide. Professor Lewis allowed the team to remain in their office after graduation.

Retired Supercuts Southwest CFO T. Getterman has served as an advisory CPA for Lynx and has been instrumental in getting the team’s financial reporting in order. Lynx Toys’ Lead Mentor is Startup Aggieland Marketing Coordinator Shelly Brenckman, who brought the team together in summer 2014 and arranged funding for their company’s patents, travel and EIR appointments. The team also was coached in 2014-2015 by former mentors Burl Haigwood and Justin Burgdorff; and assisted by Kelli Hollinger, executive director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School.

Hollinger and David Wesson, founding chairman of Aggie Angel Network, made it possible for the three Lynx founders to travel to and participate in the National Retail Federation Conference in Seattle. Financial investments from Russell White, Harlie Frost and David Heath greatly contributed to the team’s success.

“We’ve been in the loop and trying to provide a little guidance and assistance all along. The guys did a great job and they learned a lot,” said White. “Harlie and I are glad the experiment was so successful for A&M, provided such a wonderful opportunity for the students and gave Startup Aggieland a great story to tell its’ stakeholders and prospective students.”

Other important advisers include Chris Westfall, official pitch coach for Startup Aggieland; and Startup Aggieland Associate Chris Valletta, an Aggie 100 member and Cofounder of Mission Athlete Care. Aggie IP Attorney Kevin Klughart with the Law Firm of Carstens & Cahoon and Bryan Bulte of Seed Sumo.

In all, 15 of Startup Aggieland’s mentors worked with Defy Matter over the course of two years to help the cofounders with their two patented products – Lynx Toys and MultiRag. Lynx Toys will be sold in 214 Academy Sports + Outdoors stores by summer 2017. MultiRag is ready to go into production.

“This has set us on a path we are very excited about,” noted Madison Jones, inventor of MultiRag and several other inventions that Defy Matter is working on from their office in Startup Aggieland. “None of this would be possible without the advice and encouragement we received through Startup Aggieland.”

Categories: Mays Business, News, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M