Aggieland Credit Union donated $10,000 to the Master of Science (MS) Business program at Texas A&M University to fund five new companies created by graduate students enrolled in the integrated business experience course. The course is a key component of the “learning business by doing business” approach of the program at Mays Business School.

In the first eight weeks of the fall 2016 semester, students in the course identified a product or service they would like to sell, conducted market research to determine how their product would be received, developed a business plan for a new company and requested up to $2,000 in start-up funds from loan officers of Aggieland Credit Union. The learning objective for the students is creation, refinement and delivery of a fundamentally sound business case. The measure of their success was the outcome of the loan decision.

Each of the five teams was successful with their respective pitches, and Aggieland Credit Union agreed to provide the necessary capital for each company to move forward in executing their business. “The integrated business experience is a remarkable opportunity for students to gain insights and perspectives about running a business that are difficult to obtain in a classroom setting. Our team is delighted to be part of making this experience possible for the students,” said Jason Goodman, senior vice president/COO at Aggieland Credit Union, who delivered the check on Oct. 7.

For the remainder of the semester, the students will implement their business plans and run their companies. On behalf of their companies, some students are negotiating with manufacturers to produce their product ideas. Students from other companies are working with vendors to purchase the raw materials they will use to produce their finished products. All companies have launched sales efforts such as creating websites and social media platforms to use for selling their products.

Other aspects of running their business include delivering products to customers, collecting payments, and paying vendors or other creditors. At the end of the semester, each company will close their business. Each company will donate all profits from their respective companies to a non-profit organization.

The MS Business program is the newest graduate program offered in Mays Business School. The 36-hour, general business graduate degree offered to students who do not have a business undergraduate education. The program includes coursework in each functional area of business as well as business acumen courses such as business communications, value creation, career management, leadership, and ethical decision making. Students complete the program in an intensive 11-months of coursework and study.

“The integrated business experience course not only allows students to learn about business by doing business through their efforts to create and execute a small business, but it also allows the students to integrate concepts they learn in other courses (such as accounting, marketing, management, etc.) into their experience.” said `Jon (Sean) Jasperson, academic director for the MS Business program.

For courses in the program that the students have already completed or in which they are currently enrolled, the integrated business experience course helps them quickly realize the practical application of the concepts discussed in these classes. In addition, the students will be able to draw from their experience running a company as they complete the remaining courses during the spring semester.

Jasperson called the class “more than just another course on the student’s transcript.” “As the experiential focal point of the MS Business program, the integrated business experience provides students a means to bundle all aspects of their MS Business education together,” he said.