(This article was originally published in “AGGIEBOUND” magazine. It was written by Janesha Moses ’16)

Do you have a great business idea stuck in your head just waiting to be developed? How many great business plans have you thought of and forgot about because you didn’t have the opportunity to make them a reality? Startup Aggieland has made pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors and success a way of life with their Startup Living Learning Community.


The Startup Living Learning Community (LLC), otherwise known as the “Dormcubator,” is a student business accelerator that places students in an environment where they can collaborate and work on their ideas together. It is a program aimed at freshmen with the aid of sophomore peer leaders, so students are able to learn from one another. The Dormcubator, located in Hullaballoo Hall, has 24-hour access to facilities with resources like offices, labs, study areas, and more. Not only does the Dormcubator provide students with an atmosphere to foster creativity, but it also promotes events that students can participate in to share their ideas. Students like McCalley (Mac) Cunningham ’18 are a testimony to the success of the Startup LLC.

As a freshman last year, Mac won the Shark Frenzy event and a $5,000 Investment Prize. She finished in the top 12 at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization’s 2015 National Elevator Pitch Competition held in Kansas City. She was named by the Mays Center for Retailing Studies as this year’s Rising Star Award recipient, which qualified her to travel to Dallas for the Retail Summit. And for the second year in a row, Mac advanced to the top 20 for Food+City in Austin, a competition where students pitch a business idea to improve the logistics of food distribution globally. Her concept, “Go Fresh!,” provides a way for consumers and restaurant owners to keep their produce fresh longer.

“The Food+City Challenge has been a major contribution to my success as an entrepreneur. I entered college with one goal—to make a difference,” Mac stated in her Food+City blog. She goes on to say that “the competition prepared me for the development of my business. I discovered my target customer, how I would sell my product and how I would reach my customer. This event opened so many doors and helped me grow as a person.”

Aside from living in the Dormcubator, students in this LLC must enroll in a course, Intro to Entrepreneurship (MGMT 289), which is geared toward helping their future business plans succeed. In doing this, the students are constantly in an environment that pushes them toward accomplishing their goals. But that isn’t what most students seem to love about the LLC.

“The selling point for students to join the LLC is establishing a foundation of like-minded but diverse friends and faculty whom are entrepreneurial and innovative as well as collaborative and supportive,” according to Shelly Brenckman, Startup LLC manager, MGMT 289 instructor and Startup Aggieland marketing coordinator.

So far, the Dormcubator has been successful in producing promising and innovative students. This spring, the students will go from entrepreneurial brainstorming to implementation. There are sure to be many new and exciting innovations to come!


Categories: Uncategorized

First-year MBA student Alycia Crandall stood outside the back doors of the Cocanougher Center with her unofficial fifth teammate in the MBA Venture Challenge: a full-grown horse. Her mission: to deliver a compelling elevator pitch convincing each of the 75 judges in attendance to come listen to her team’s analysis of RevaTis, a new veterinary medicine research company commercializing stem cell services for thoroughbred horses.

MBA Venture horse

The elevator pitch competition was the first round of the MBA Venture Challenge, a seven-day experiential competition held annually in collaboration between the MBA Program and the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE), both at Mays Business School.

In this year’s challenge, 63 first-year MBA students formed into 15 teams and selected from a pool of 25 early-stage companies seeking advice and analysis on their market opportunity and growth strategies. Each year the MBA Venture Challenge creates high-stakes competition between the teams, for both sponsored cash awards and course credit, as well as high-value effort and insights for the participating firms.

The MBA 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 CNVE sources these early-stage firms from its position in the Aggie and local entrepreneurial ecosystem, utilizing partners such as the Aggie Angel Network, A&M System Technology Commercialization, the Research Valley Innovation Center, Seed Sumo, Innovation Underground and the TEEX Product Development Center. These businesses come from a wide variety of industries, from internet media to medical devices; consumer technology to animal health.

The MBA teams are allowed only one week of direct contact with company representatives, but are provided feedback and guidance from industry and university mentors, including the MBA Program Faculty. MBA Program Director Shannon Deer explains: “Venture Challenge is so beneficial to both our students and to the companies participating. The MBA Program has completely integrated the Challenge into our students’ course work, evaluating their analysis and recommendations for course credit.”

After seven days (and long nights) of preparation, evaluation and analysis, the MBA Venture Challenge culminates in a full-day competition that starts with an elevator pitch round, two full rounds of preliminary presentations, then a finals round of presentations from the top six teams. Throughout the presentation rounds, teams are scored by an audience of invited judges from CNVE’s network of business, academic and entrepreneurial community leaders. Each round requires the teams to present a concise but in-depth analysis of the venture and provide meaningful recommendations to the venture’s leadership on how to best address their shortcomings.

CNVE Director Blake Petty describes the MBA Venture Challenge as a unique and valuable experience for all participants – students, ventures and judges. “It has always been aimed at offering the MBA students an impactful experience introducing many of them to the unique aspects of leading and launching a new business,” he said. “As a meaningful – and powerful – side effect, the participating companies and judges receive valuable insights, critique, analysis and recommendations toward pivots and improvements their new ventures can make to enhance their likelihood of success.”

The winning MBA teams were announced at a networking and awards reception immediately following the Challenge on Feb. 19:

  • First Place ($5,000, sponsored by Aggie Angel Network) – James Hammond, Tien Le, Brian Newbury and Jordan Nielson (Block Party Suites)
  • Second Place ($3,000, sponsored by Research Valley Innovation Center) – Jonathan Macrae, Eva Martinez-Salinas, John Dexter and Saurabh Kulkarni (ADVENTURE GURU)
  • Third Place ($2,000, sponsored by JBKnowledge) – Jason Morgan, Lillian Niakan, Raj Sridharan and Sneha Das (Scepter Medical Devices)

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

Drone project

 (Note: This is the first in a series of stories about research projects that have received I-Corps funding.)
A team of Texas A&M University engineers has been accepted into the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, which is managed by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) of Mays Business School.

I-Corps™ is a set of activities and programs that prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of select, NSF-funded, basic-research projects.

The latest Texas A&M team to receive the funding is from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. The team is made up of Andrea Strzelec, Ph.D. (principal investigator), Brian Musslewhite (entrepreneurial lead) and Dale Cope, Ph.D. (industry mentor). This team’s innovation to be tested is a miniaturized emissions sensor that is mounted on a drone that can be deployed to difficult and/or dangerous locations to analyze the existing environment. Strzelec has served as PI on a previous I-Corps team and recognizes the high value of this training and how it impacts her research.

The CNVE has played a key role in team formation, guidance and mentoring of the team.

I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that solicits three-member teams – composed of an academic researcher, a student entrepreneur and an industry mentor – to participate in an intensive seven-week program to determine commercialization opportunities for their innovations. Selected I-Corps teams are receive $50,000 in NSF grant funding to support their efforts in the combined on-site and online curriculum, which is based on the Lean LaunchPad Methodology for business model validation.

CNVE maintains a dedicated I-Corps program that is focused on discovering, recruiting and encouraging scientists and engineers to participate in this program which is designed to discover the true commercial capabilities of research innovations. Charles (Chuck) Hinton leads the CNVE’s efforts as part of the Southwest I-Corps Node (http://swicorps.org), one of seven national partnerships of universities funded by NSF to support I-Corps expansion. Texas A&M, UT-Austin, Rice University and Texas Tech University share responsibilities for promotion of this high-impact program and recruitment of I-Corps Team applicants.

At Texas A&M, 11 teams with grants totaling $550,000 have been assembled from the colleges of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Engineering and Science, as well as Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M Health Science Center specializing in biochemistry, computer science, material science, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, physics, biomedical engineering, electrical & computer engineering, biological and agricultural engineering, entomology, and environmental and occupational health.

About CNVE:  Through a combination of entrepreneurial-focused curricular and experiential opportunities, the CNVE seeks to enhance the livelihood of Texas A&M University and the greater community. Since its inception in 1999, the CNVE has served as the hub of entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University.3logos

Categories: Centers, Mays Business, Research Notes, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Herbert G. Thompson Jr., Professor Emeritus of Marketing at Texas A&M University, died Feb. 16, 2016 at age 94.

At his graveside service Feb. 20 at the College Station Cemetery, family, former students and friends were invited to tell stories about him. His survivors include four children, 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

Herbert G. Thompson Jr. (center) died at age 94.

Thompson was a professor at Texas A&M from 1951 to 1985. He was recruited to help build what was then the Department of Business, and was part of the team to create the College of Business, which is now named Mays Business School.Thompson served as the head of marketing, and recruited talented academia to build the new business school. Under the guidance of President James Earl Rudder, he helped with the selection of the first dean of the school of business and worked toward the school’s accreditation by American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business.

Thompson was born in Hamilton, Ohio, as one of nine children. He was the first in his extended family to graduate from high school, then enrolled at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (Miami of Ohio). WWII caused him to enlist in the Air Force, then he was honorably discharged upon completion of his service after the war. He returned to Ohio and completed his bachelor’s degree from Miami of Ohio, then obtained an MBA.

While at Texas A&M, Thompson received several teaching awards:

–        Outstanding Teaching Award – Texas A&M College of Business 1969-70

–        Standard Oil Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching Performance at Texas A&M 1969-70

–        Outstanding Teacher – College of Business, Texas A&M 1975-76

–        Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching  – Texas A&M Association of Former Students 1979

–        Outstanding Teacher – College of Business, Texas A&M 1982-83

–        Distinguished Service Award – Texas A&M Marketing Society 1984

–        Distinguished Service Award – Texas A&M College of Business 1985

–        Dean’s Distinguished Award – William Mobley, Dean of Texas A&M College of Business 1985

–        Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University – Board of Regents, Texas A&M University System 1985

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

A team of four students from Texas A&M’s Mays Business School took third place at the inaugural BI International Case Competition 2016 on Feb. 18 in Oslo, Norway. The Mays team was the only one invited from the United States.

Competing against 11 other teams from around the world, Andrew Winker ’16 (PPA & Business Honors), Layeeka Ismail ’16 (PPA & Business Honors), Hope Miller ’17 (PPA & Business Honors) and Nathan Shaub ’17 (Supply Chain Management & Business Honors) had 32 hours to solve a real-life business case and organize a presentation for a corporate judging panel.

The business case was unveiled Tuesday morning, and the students worked diligently – sequestered –until Wednesday evening, when they had the opportunity to rest. The final presentations were Thursday morning.

The team’s accomplishment was the result of months of preparation by the students, with the help of Mays faculty and staff. Peter Drysdale, director of Undergraduate Programs at Mays, accompanied the students to Oslo. The team practiced multiple cases and received feedback from various faculty members throughout the fall semester and until their departure.

The case competition, in its inaugural year, drew participants from all across the globe. The final lineup included teams from China, Ireland, Quebec, Serbia and Australia.

Mary Lea McAnally, Phillip Ljungdahl Chaired Professor of Accounting and Interim Director of Innovation and Strategic Planning, said she was impressed by more than the team’s strong finish. “Perhaps more impressive was their dedication and hard work. Their advance preparation, the travel and the competition itself were so intellectually and emotionally intense that the experience created memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I am also grateful for the Mays faculty and staff who came together to support the team as they trained and prepared themselves. As they say: It takes a village!”

The team members are (left to right) Andrew Winker ’16, Layeeka Ismail ’16, Hope Miller ’17 and Nathan Shaub ’17, with Director of Undergraduate Program Peter Drysdale.


Categories: Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Regrub, a startup launched by two Texas A&M University students that uses insects to convert food waste into fertilizer, won the People’s Choice Award at the second annual Food+City Challenge.

The two freshmen who launched ReGrub are part of Startup Aggieland’s Startup Living Learning Community.  Blake Harvey (left) is a business administration major and Ryan Woolsey is a political science major. The team garnered more than 1,600 votes of 6,000 cast in person and online. They also qualified for the top 20 out of 200+ entries worldwide.

Startup LLC sophomore McCalley Cunningham, a two-time Food+City Top 20 qualifier, pitched her product GoFresh – a zeolite product that naturally extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetable. Startup LLC freshman Allison Kornher assisted GoFresh.

More than 700 people attended the Feb. 6 event at the University of Texas. The grand-prize team won $30,000.



Categories: Mays Business, News, Texas A&M


In its annual ranking of business schools that are “Best for Vets,” Military Times ranked Texas A&M’s Mays Business School as 1st in Texas and 9th among the top 77 U.S. business schools in 2016. This is the fourth consecutive year Mays has placed in the Top 10 nationally among business schools.

The annual Military Times rankings take into consideration a variety of factors to determine a school’s overall score, including university culture, student support, academic outcomes and quality, academic policies, and cost and financial aid.

“We are proud to be a national leader for excellence in service to military veterans and their families,” Dean Eli Jones said. “This ranking reflects the importance of military service, as well as our ongoing commitment to providing veterans with access to high-quality, cost-effective graduate business programs.”

In the Full-Time MBA Class of 2016, 24 percent of the students are military veterans, which is a reflection of the business school’s efforts to recruit veterans. They come from all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Recruiting from the military branches has been intentional at Mays, because employers recognize the preparedness of these students and the value they bring to the workplace.

“The Full-Time MBA Program is committed to helping our veterans identify and communicate the unique skills they acquired during their military experiences, which would be most useful to corporate employers,” Shannon Deer, director of the Full-Time MBA Program, said. “The program is also adding several new veteran services this year, including programs to help veterans identify employers, develop a personal brand and transition from military to civilian life,” she added.

The Mays Full-Time MBA Program is offered on the main campus of Texas A&M University. “It was a natural choice for me,” Jim Kelly, a 2013 graduate of the program, said. “It’s an accelerated 16-month program, and the amount of time I had to spend away from work was limited. It’s a military-friendly program, and I’m a veteran. It was an easy choice for me.”

Texas A&M is a national leader for providing services to veterans. The university currently provides support through two campus offices for more than 1,100 veterans and at least 2,200 military dependents, spouses and survivors who are currently enrolled students.

For more information on the veterans benefits offered by Mays Business School, visit mays.tamu.edu/full-time-mba/military.

Categories: Programs

A group of MBA students in the Texas A&M Mays Business School got some realistic training in crisis leadership and team-building during a “Leadership Challenge” exercise at Disaster City® on Jan. 22.


“This is useful training,” said Shannon Deer, director of the Full-Time MBA Program at Mays. “It gives the students the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and be challenged outside of an academic setting.”

The exercise is designed to teach leadership and communication skills, crisis management and teamwork.

In the aftermath of a mock tornado, the students must work together in teams to search for and rescue “victims” from a collapsed building, a train derailment and more. They also face other challenges, such as moving a large piece of concrete from a roadway, which can only be accomplished by working as a team.

“Every station has a new team leader, so the students have to learn to follow as well as lead,” said management Associate Professor Michael Wesson. “It’s a great day for them to become more aware of their strengths and areas they need to work on.”

They must also answer questions during a mock press conference about the disaster. This applies to situations where managers must deliver bad news as well as communicate under stress, said Executive Professor John Krajicek.

The simulated disaster exercise is overseen by experienced instructors with the Texas A&M EngiMaysMBAjan2016_269neering Extension Service (TEEX) and faculty from Mays Business School.






Categories: Uncategorized

Every semester Mays students enrolled in International Management class (MGMT/IBUS 452) gain real-life global experience without leaving the country. Daria Panina, a faculty member in the Department of Management, is a member of X-Culture – a global collaboration project that includes professors from 107 universities from 43 countries. Last semester more than 3,000 students taught by these professors participated in X-Culture.

As a part of X-Culture, all students enrolled in Panina’s class are randomly assigned into global virtual teams, usually consisting of up to seven students from different countries. The teams are required to provide a business solution toslack-imgs an actual company that partners with X-Culture. Students work on a semester-long project by learning the market analysis and global strategy development as well as the best practices of working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Students have a semester to do their research, and work with their counterparts across the globe to write up a business plan for their company. All students who participated in X-Culture and completed their projects receive an X-Culture Global Collaboration Experience certificates. Best teams receive Best Team awards and money prizes, as well as internship and job offers, and sales commissions from the companies they worked for. The best students and groups have an opportunity to participate in the annual X-Culture symposium sponsored by one of the partner companies (which in the past included Mercedes-Benz, The Home Depot and Louis Vuitton, among others). At the symposium, students meet their team members in person, and get an opportunity to interact with the partner company representatives and X-Culture participants from around the world.

X-Culture project is very demanding. Students who work in global virtual teams face many challenges. They have to deal with time differences between countries, learn how to work with people from different cultures, and manage the copanina photonsequences of motivation issues that arise as a part of virtual project. Yet, participants in X-Culture agree that the project improves their cultural intelligence, international and virtual collaboration competencies, global self-efficacy, and increases their interest in cross-cultural relations. Students that participated in X-Culture have mentioned that the experience was highly valuable and rewarding. It not only allowed them to learn international management and gain global experience, it also
helped many of them in their job search. Students that mentioned X-Culture in their job interviews agreed that this was a project that made them stand out in from the rest and helped them land their jobs.

The X-Culture project is tightly linked with the contents of the material studied in MGMT 452. Different parts of the project are discussed in lectures and class activities. Additionally, as a part of the preparation for the project, students taking the class read and discuss academic research on global teams’ management and leadership at the beginning of the semester.

For several semesters, Panina has received the Best Instructor Award based on the peer review of 116 performance indicators for theoretical training of her students, evaluating their group projects and support in organizing and managing the X-Culture project.


Below are some of the comments by the students who participated in X-Culture last semester:

  • X-Culture was a premier global learning experience. While it was frustrating at times, I believe that the experiences I gained were priceless. – Abby Franks
  • Panina prepared us very well for the X-Culture project. She prepared us for the inevitable challenges and guided us through the entire process. It was a frustrating project, but gave me an invaluable experience to grow as a student, person, and young professional. – Molly Kurth
  • My X-Culture experience was very enlightening. I was given the opportunity to find out what it’s like to work with people on an international scale, and what going global truly means. – Jessica Perkins
  • My team got to create a business plan for a coffee company in Italy to expand into foreign markets. I worked with students from Peru, India, Latvia and China. While the language barrier could be difficult at times, it was fun to actually work with students around the world. – Katherine Stokes-Lindley
  • I really enjoyed X-Culture project. Having the opportunity to work with REAL people from all walks of life was incredibly interesting. Not only that, but also providing a REAL company advice on where to expand was great opportunity to not only put into practice knowledge from MGMT 452, but also use other information that I’ve learned from many of my classes I’ve taken at Mays. – Matthew Ullrich
  • X-Culture was an interesting experience. It was not always easy communicating across different time zones and cultures, but it gave us an opportunity that would be impossible to be replicated unless you were truly on an international team. I would not trade this new skillset for anything. – Reeve Nettles


Categories: Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

university_logosThere is more to philanthropy than oversized checks, and a group of Mays Business School students are the first at Texas A&M University to learn first-hand about the steps leading up to donations. The new course on Strategic Philanthropy – the first at an SEC school – will allow students to allocate $50,000 in grant money to nonprofit organizations. First, they will spend weeks learning about the organizations vying for funds, then make presentations to their classmates to guide the allocation decisions. The students will send out requests for proposals (RFPs), conduct site visits and write grant proposals.

Course instructor Kyle Gammenthaler ’11, a senior academic advisor at Mays, said the course’s benefits are twofold – the students will learn about nonprofits and some local organizations will receive additional funds. “The students who have gone through the process will be comfortable sitting at a table in any board room or serving in leadership positions where they have to research projects and allocate funds,” he said. “That will give them a leg up, because no matter what you do, what role you have, you are going to encounter nonprofit organizations. Without that understanding, at worst you’re a neutral third-party observer. At best, you understand the unique rules and processes of the nonprofit world.”

Gammenthaler comes from the world of nonprofits, having worked at United Way of Brazos Valley before joining Mays. He advises two student organizations related to nonprofit consulting.

In the inaugural semester, 21 students will take 3-credit-hour upper-level elective. The first recipients will be local organizations – roughly the same coverage area as United Way of the Brazos Valley. The students will hear from guest speakers throughout the semester. They also will be asked to write a statement about their own philanthropy, then work in teams to conduct their due diligence in order to advocate on behalf of the chosen organizations.

The $50,000 grant was from Once Upon a Time Foundation, which has provided more than $4 million to build philanthropy education at 17 universities across the United States, including Baylor University, Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford, TCU, Tulane, UCLA, Chicago, Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas, University of Virginia and Vanderbilt.

Texas A&M’s program is unique because it is offered through the business school. Gammenthaler hopes to expand it campuswide within the next few years.

The core values of Texas A&M are infused in the class, Gammenthaler said.

  • Excellence: This course sets the bar high as students make funding decisions on actual nonprofit organizations. A thorough decision making process will allow for students to reach towards the fullest potential.
  • Respect: There are multiple opportunities for varying opinions to arise in this course. Students are expected to maintain a high culture of respect as they discuss and debate with each other. Also, the highest level of respect should be afforded to the community organizations throughout their various interactions.
  • Leadership: Students are expected to carry these philanthropic ideals into their professional careers and their lives. My hope is that their experiences afford them the opportunity to be in a position at some point to “lead the charge” in strategically impacting their communities.

Pat Dunne, who leads the Philanthropy Lab experiential philanthropy education initiative as president of the Once Upon A Time Foundation, said he finds it interesting to see how differently the 15 campuses present the materials – including philosophy, social policy, economics and sociology departments. “A neat thing about philanthropy is that it is relevant to multiple disciplines, and we have had success with good professors and strong partners regardless of department,” he said. “And I think introducing it at the undergraduate level is a good place to start it.”

Feedback from some 1,300 students indicates they appreciate the personal reflection aspect of the course. Many call it “transformational,” and several have changed career paths after completing it. “There is an intrinsic joy in giving back, but giving responsibly is not easy,” he said. “This course provides a framework for that process that we hope will benefit our students in both their personal and professional lives.”

The nonprofits that participate also benefit from the partnership in more ways than financially, Dunne said – in terms of volunteers, advocates and insight into why they didn’t get chosen for funding. “It’s a classic win-win-win,” he said. “The students, universities and nonprofits all benefit. That’s broader impact than most classes can claim.”

IMG_0218 yes





Categories: Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M