The traits that set Aggies apart—excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service—may have something to do with why Aggies are at the head of businesses around the world that are growing strong, despite a still struggling economy. The sixth annual Aggie 100 event was held recently to recognize these leaders, whose efforts create jobs and provide essential products and services.

The Aggie 100 recognizes the fastest growing Aggie-owned or -operated businesses in the world, as gauged by the company’s compound annual growth rate over a two-year period. This year’s list was announced on Friday, October 22, at a lunch hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Mays. The list included a variety of industries, from ophthalmology to engineering.

Members of the 2010 Aggie 100, outside Kyle Field
Members of the 2010 Aggie 100, outside Kyle Field (view more photos)

Claiming the top spot for 2010 was Tom Bieschke “95, chairman, president, CEO and founder of Caltex Energy Inc., a five-year-old oil and gas exploration and production company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The compound growth rate for Caltex for the two-year period was 224.07 percent.

Of the top 10 companies on the list, three are led by Mays graduates: David Baggett ’81, partner and founder of Houston consulting firm Opportune LLP, was fourth on the list; Mitt Salvaggio ’82, president, owner and founder of Salvaggio, Teal & Associates, an information systems company in Austin, was eighth; and Russ D. Peterson Jr., managing director, owner, and founder of iSpeak, Inc, a professional development training firm in Round Rock, was tenth.

Though he didn’t make the 2010 list, former two-time Aggie 100 honoree Greg Hall was recognized at the event for his part in the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners earlier in the month. His Houston-based company, Drillers Supply International, was responsible for developing and executing the “Plan B” attempt that was successful in the rescue of the 33 men who had been trapped half a mile underground for 69 days.

The theme for the 2010 Aggie 100 event was “the company we keep.” CNVE executive director Richard Lester, a clinical associate professor of management, told event attendees that with people like Hall in the line-up of past winners, being on the list puts them in good company.

Texas A&M University president R. Bowen Loftin '71 speaks at the 2010 Aggie 100 Luncheon
Texas A&M University president R. Bowen Loftin ’71 speaks at the 2010 Aggie 100 Luncheon (view more photos)

In addition to the luncheon event, dozens of Aggie 100 honorees guest lectured in classes across campus, sharing their success stories and life lessons with the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Aggie 100 honorees give back in another vital way: each year, they provide funds for entrepreneurship scholarships at Mays. Several scholarship recipients spoke at the luncheon, thanking their predecessors for making their education possible. One such student was Kelly Kravitz, who recently used an Aggie 100 scholarship to participate in the Empowering Entrepreneurship in South Africa program. She and three Mays students traveled to South Africa to work with black small business owners, who are still struggling to find success in the country after apartheid. “You are supporting entrepreneurship around the world,” Kravitz told the audience.

In addition to the Aggie 100 awards, one other award was presented. The CNVE Excellence Award was given to Lenae Huebner, the former assistant director of the center who now works with a local start-up. Huebner was one of the originators of the Aggie 100 event, and organized the celebration for five years.

The breakdown

Houston accounting firm PKF Texas provided the analysis for the Aggie 100 event again this year. In addition to determining the top 100 of those that applied for the award, they also gave this overview:

  • In the six years of the award’s history, 347 organizations have been recognized.
  • Forty new companies were added to the list in 2010.
  • The 2010 list represents three countries and six U.S. states.
  • The honorees in 2010 range from class of 1956 to class of 2004.
  • Three of the top ten honorees are also listed in the INC 500.
  • Total revenues created by all of the Aggie 100 companies in the two-year period they examined is $1.34 billion.
  • One company has made the list all six years: MacResource in College Station. Four other companies have been on the list for five of the six years: Catapult Systems, FOBI, Liquid Frameworks, and Internet Truckstop.
  • On the 2010 list, there were 12 honorees named Mike or Michael.
  • Eleven of the 2010 honoree companies are family-owned.
About the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

The Texas A&M Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship provides encouragement, education, networking and assistance to entrepreneurially minded students, faculty and Texas businesses. Founded in 1999, the center is part of Mays Business School’s Department of Management.

The center enhances student education through campus speakers, competitions, work experiences and financial support. The Texas A&M faculty and Office of Technology Commercialization benefit from the center’s educational programs, extensive business community network and the entrepreneurial services. The center also reaches out to the state’s business community offering educational programs, business assistance and access to university resources.

The center is supported by corporate and individual members and sponsors who believe in the value of an entrepreneurial education program and the value of Texas businesses working with Texas A&M University.

Categories: Centers, Former Students

For most people, going from owning a multimillion-dollar company, to owning a lemonade stand sounds like regression, but for Michael Holthouse it was the culmination of a dream. Holthouse was founder and president of Paranet, Inc., a computer network services company that grew in six years to 27 offices, 1600 employees and revenues in excess of $100 million. When Holthouse sold Paranet to Sprint in 1997, he refocused his talents on philanthropy, investments, and community involvement including helping youngsters learn entrepreneurship by selling lemonade.

Michael Holthouse
Holthouse

In light of his accomplishments, Holthouse will be recognized by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School with the Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. Given in honor of C.W. and Dorothy Conn of Conn’s Appliances, this annual award is presented to a successful business leader that exemplifies entrepreneurial vision as well as managerial insight and business acumen. The award presentation and a lecture by Holthouse will take place at 10:20-11:10 a.m. on March 24 in 113 Wehner.

Not only does Holthouse donate his resources, but he also donates his time by setting up philanthropies such as Prepared 4 Life, which, according to its website, “prepares middle school youth for life through fun, proactive and experiential after-school programs infused with life skills, character education and entrepreneurship.”

Among his various philanthropies and community outreaches, Holthouse has started a nationwide event called Lemonade Day, hosted by Prepared 4 Life that gives youth an opportunity to experience entrepreneurship firsthand. Holthouse’s program provides participants with a handbook outlining how to run a successful business (how to approach investors, where to set up shop, how to sell the product, etc.); it also provides participants with their very own lemonade stands. Lemonade Day encourages community involvement and gives its participants the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship in a real-world setting.

Bryan/College Station children operated 250 stands for Lemonade Day 2009. Lenae Huebner, assistant director of the CNVE, says that as part of the Conn Award recognition, she hopes to raise awareness about the program so that next year more young people in the area participate. As a point of reference, she mentioned that last year in the Houston area there were 27,000 Lemonade Day stands. This year that number may swell to more than 50,000, while the program will be adding 11 new metropolitan areas, including Dallas and San Antonio.

For more information on the Conn Award, presentation, and lecture, contact Huebner at lhuebner@mays.tamu.edu.

To learn more about Prepared 4 Life’s Lemonade Day, visit lemonadeday.org.

Categories: Centers, Executive Speakers

In this tech-saturated society of iPhones and TiVo, the latest technology is the hottest commodity. That’s why students at Texas A&M University are focusing on innovation through the annual Ideas Challenge event, hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Mays Business School.

The competition, held April 30, gave students the chance to present their ideas for new products and services to successful members of the business and academic world. The 2008 competition, open to all Aggie students ranging from freshman to doctoral level, began with an essay requiring participants to describe their “big idea.” Out of more than 400 student entries, 40 finalist individuals and teams were chosen to present their ideas to a panel of judges that included lawyers, consultants, and executives from across the state. After a five-minute presentation by the would-be entrepreneurs, the judges challenged participants to think on their feet through a tough question and answer session. Judges quizzed the students on the marketability and feasibility of each proposal, providing friendly, constructive feedback to the students.

Student giving presentation as student watches
40 finalist individuals and teams were chosen to present their ideas to a panel of judges that included lawyers, consultants, and executives from across the state.

“We’ve been there, and we know it takes a lot of guts for students to participate in a competition like this,” said event judge Karen Hornbeck, consultant for Heritage Bridge, an IT service provider for a wide range of companies from Fortune 1000 firms to small start-ups. Hornbeck and her husband Ash were winners at the first Ideas Challenge seven years ago. “It’s an honor to be welcomed back to A&M to help with the challenge,” she said.

For the students, the challenge provided a chance to better their research and presentation skills while developing the mindset of an entrepreneur and finding their products’ fit in the market. “I’ve never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but given the right supplies and a little time, now I know that I can create a successful product—it could be the next big thing,” said participant Allison Watson, a freshman business major.

Lenae Huebner, assistant director of the CNVE, explained that the Ideas Challenge is a great resume builder and networking opportunity for the student participants. “The competition requires each team to develop an idea, categorize, and structure it, which can be very challenging,” she added. “Above all, the challenge encourages students to think innovatively and use their imagination. It’s really an invaluable experience.”

The top 10 teams split a total of $13,000, and the top two winners were also granted pro-bono provisional patent work with patent experts at Texas law firm Jackson Walker LLP. Ideas Challenge is underwritten by Lynntech, Inc., a technology company headquartered in College Station. The Research Valley Innovation Center was also a major sponsor of this year’s challenge. First prize was sponsored by Paragon Innovations; second prize was sponsored by Gulfstream Graphics; and third place was sponsored by Lockard & White, Monika Matthews-Stevens and Lynntech.

Ideas Challenge 2008 winners

1st place
Idea: InFoRMS (interactive FM radio messaging system)
Presented by: Chris Magnussen, Jamie Dixon, Jason McConnell, and Ryan Schroeder

2nd place
Idea: The Car Compass
Presented by: Dylan Dacy

3rd place (eight awarded)
Idea: Classic Comfort
Presented by: Bradley Sanders, Bradley Woodard, Taiwo Adebiyi, and Will Koonce

Idea: Aggie Aware
Presented by: Anna Gorski, Blake Cannon, Britton Clay, Casey Branach, Hannah DeGray, and Melissa Kelso

Idea: Peertutor.com
Presented by: Dustin Weghorst and Ryan Williams

Idea: Pet Protect by Bonnie Engineering
Presented by: Kyle Schumann, Michel Ramirez, and Paul Carrington

Idea: Digital Scaling Ruler
Presented by: Jenny Casmus and Michael Kim

Idea: MusicCrawler
Presented by: Cody Sanderson

Idea: Obesity Solutions Inc.
Presented by: Saurabh Biswas and Waqar Mohiuddin

Idea: Game Face
Presented by: Chris Lammert

Categories: Centers, Students

In a world full of technological breakthroughs and innovative ideas, Texas A&M continues to make its mark. Though every invention shows promise, marketing new technology to the average person can be a difficult task, and that’s where the Mays MBA Program steps in. On February 15, 77 first-year MBA students participated in the Tech Transfer Challenge, developing real-world applications for A&M’s newest innovations.

Tech Transfer Challenge
James Lancaster (center), General Manager of The Research Valley Partnership, served as one of the judges for this year’s Tech Transfer Challenge.

Presented by Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures in Entrepreneurship, MBA students kicked off the challenge with a week of research and analysis on an unfamiliar potential product. The teams of students then presented ideas for commercializing each item to a panel of judges, including representatives from today’s top corporations. With little preparation time and the task of creating a presentation fit for the boardroom, the students’ leadership, teamwork, and research skills were put to the test. Tech Transfer enabled the students to incorporate management principles while sizing up the potential of patents and other raw technologies. The diverse technology made the event even more challenging, as research was required on random topics such as beetle pesticide.

Kristen Robinson, a first-year MBA student and member of the first-place winning team, feels that despite the challenging time crunch, the event provided her and the other participants with a unique opportunity to synthesize their classroom experience as well as practice their networking skills. “It helps you learn how to make important contacts with big names in the business world. It’s really encouraging because this process is often very intimidating,” said Robinson.

While the Tech Transfer competition is a required activity for Mays MBA students, the $6,000 prize money split among the top three teams is plenty of motivation for students to maximize their creativity and produce a quality presentation. The students definitely succeeded in this aspect, proving their corporate capabilities through their professional presentations reflecting organized research.

Tech Transfer Challenge
This year’s first place team presented research on “Compositions, Methods, and Uses for a Novel Family of Peptides.”

Clinching the first place spot, Alayne Bomba, Jesse Jones, Elliot Battles, Kristen Robinson, and Amy Heintz presented research on “Compositions, Methods, and Uses for a Novel Family of Peptides.” In second place, Kyle Klein, Vickram Gopaal, Lisa Sun, Scott Bradford, and Josephine Hodge displayed their newfound knowledge of an “Improved Vaccine Against Brucella Abortus,” and third place went to Taylor Robertson, Brian Wiggins, David Ball, Hemanth Babu Shakar, and Robin Hawkins’ presentation, “Attractant for Monitoring the Control of Adult Scarabs.”

Lenae Huebner, assistant director for the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, feels that the challenge benefits everyone involved. “For the corporate representatives, participation in the event is more than just an opportunity to give back to the community and support our educational efforts. Judges over the last few years have hired students, licensed technologies and expanded their personal networks as a direct result of the challenge. Serving as a judge can be as rewarding to the judges as it is for the students,” said Huebner.

Judges agree. John Andersen, representative of Merrill Lynch feels that the Tech Transfer is a fantastic opportunity for venture capitalists seeking new business endeavors. “They love this sort of thing. And when you interact with young minds like this, it’s reassuring to know that these young people are in our society, they are the future of business. This is an outstanding network opportunity,” said Andersen.

About the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

The Texas A&M Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship provides encouragement, education, networking and assistance to entrepreneurially-minded students, faculty and Texas businesses. Founded in 1999, the center is part of Mays Business School’s Department of Management. The center enhances student education through campus speakers, competitions, work experiences and financial support. The Texas A&M faculty and Office of Technology Commercialization benefit from the center’s educational programs, extensive business community network and the entrepreneurial services.

The center also reaches out to the state’s business community offering educational programs, business assistance and access to university resources. The center is supported by corporate and individual members and sponsors who believe in the value of an entrepreneurial education program and the value of Texas businesses working with Texas A&M University.

About the Mays MBA program

Mays Business School currently enrolls more than 4,000 undergraduate students and 875 graduate students. The MBA program is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 29.8 percent to its intensive 16-month program and a placement rate of 100 percent within three months of graduation.

Categories: Centers, Programs

Envision '08

“What we hope to achieve is simply put: expanding minds, expanding networks,” says Richard Scruggs, director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. Expanding minds and expanding networks is the tag line of Envision”08, the first conference for entrepreneurs hosted by the CNVE. Envision”08 (short for “entrepreneurial vision”) will be held April 23-25 at the Marriott RiverCenter in San Antonio, Texas. …Read more

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories

While its long been known for being a great research university, Texas A&M is taking another step forward. This time it’s in the area of commercial development. A plan was recently unveiled, called the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Initiative, which is being spearheaded by Vice President for Research Richard Ewing.

Mays’ Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) will likely play a significant role in the initiative. CNVE is already working to boost student and faculty interest in technology commercialization, says Lenae Huebner, assistant director.

“The opportunities for our students and graduates will be greatly impacted by this initiative,” she says. “We would like to have a collaborative effort that would answer the needs of the TTCI, while offering our students and constituents the opportunity to participate in the commercialization of leading-edge technologies.”

Huebner says the involvement with the commercialization center would help CNVE make its vision of helping A&M excel in technology commercialization a reality.

“This aggressive new initiative falls squarely on our mission to build an entrepreneurial mindset among our students, faculty and researchers,” she says.

For more information, visit http://vpr.tamu.edu/ttci/.

Categories: Centers, Faculty