Startup Aggieland, the business incubator launched as an initiative of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University student entrepreneurs, has added a new partner to its roster: The College of Liberal Arts.
Startup Aggieland is a cross-college collaboration with Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE); Texas A&M University’s Office of the Vice President in the Division of Research; the Dwight Look College of Engineering and Computer Science; and the College of Architecture. It started in January 2013 to provide qualified students of all majors with a peer-led startup community that helps students leverage public and private resources while launching early-stage ventures.
Startup Aggieland is administered by an advisory board that includes representatives from the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture and Mays. Now a Liberal Arts representative will be added. The partner entities also fund the program financially.
Pamela R. Matthews, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said she is looking forward to her college having closer ties to Mays. “We are excited about the potential for new collaborations that will benefit our students and faculty,” she said. “We’re also excited about helping liberal arts students benefit from the CNVE/entrepreneurship initiatives that Startup Aggieland offers.”
The liberal arts contribution to the program extends into the classroom, as well, Matthews explained. A new faculty member – Patricia Thornton – will teach sociology and have an adjunct appointment in management. “She is a leader in entrepreneurship, and she will collaborate with others to develop curricular and co-curricular opportunities,” Matthews said. “This is an exciting time for our young entrepreneurs.”
Thornton previously was an adjunct professor and an affiliate of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, where she taught entrepreneurship and new venture management. She is also visiting associate professor and affiliated faculty to the Program on Organizations, Business, and the Economy in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University, where she taught the social science of entrepreneurship.
Richard Lester, executive director of the CNVE, said he is pleased to increase the reach of the program. “Our goal from the beginning has been to engage as many current students as we can, regardless of their majors,” he said. “A good business is a good business, no matter what discipline the student originates from. We’re just here to help them get it to the next level.”
Startup Aggieland is a student-designed business incubator and accelerator. Mentors and coaches help qualified student-owned startups leverage Texas A&M University resources and private support without relinquishing equity ownership in their companies.
CNVE also offers a student-managed seed fund that can be used to cover certain business startup costs with no obligation for students to repay the money.
Startup Aggieland is open to students pursuing any major at any level of study at Texas A&M University. Six entrepreneurship courses for university credit meet each week at the Startup Aggieland facility.
Students retain ownership of any intellectual property they develop at Startup Aggieland, and are provided access to legal assistance to help protect student IPs or register their trademarks.
Startup Aggieland provides students with free or at-cost services such as accounting assistance, graphic design services, marketing support, $24,000 in free Rackspace webhosting, furnished student office space and free parking, and access to snacks and refreshments on site. Students also have opportunities to attend free out-of-town trips to companies, entrepreneurship events and pitch competitions.
Startup Aggieland has headquarters in Research Park on the western edge of campus. It is supported by several corporate and institutional sponsors. Some students qualify for residence in a Startup Living Learning Community, which is co-sponsored by Mays and Texas A&M Department of Residence Life.