By Kristopher Muir, Clinical Assistant Professor
Imagine you’re a Mays graduate student and you just got out of class. In addition to walking to the library, you’re checking voicemails on your phone related to your team’s startup company. In addition to looking at social media to see what your friends are up to, you’re checking your company’s social media page for analytics. During your coffee break, you’re huddling with your CFO, CEO, and other team members in order to solve the latest crisis: your supplier has canceled your order. What do you do? If you can imagine any of these scenarios, you might be a Master of Science (MS) in Business student.
In its second year, the MS Business program is the newest graduate program offered at Mays Business School. MS Business is a 36-hour, 11-month general business graduate degree offered to students who do not have a business undergraduate education.
Mays Business School students have spent this semester “learning business by doing business” through the integrated business experience (IBE) course, designed to teach MS Business students how to start and run their own business in only one semester. In only its second year, the four student-run companies earned a collective profit of $18,352 that they were able to donate to local charities in addition to the 229 service hours. These numbers serve to validate that the MS Business program aligns with both the Mays vision of advancing the world’s prosperity and the Mays Grand Challenge of Entrepreneurship.
Four teams of students in the MS Business program have spent the semester identifying a product or service they would like to sell, conducting market research to determine how the product would be received, developing a business plan and requesting start-up funds. In October, Aggieland Credit Union donated up to $2,000 per company. Since then, the teams have been developing their businesses and partnering with nonprofit organizations that received the profits of the businesses.
“IBE is a 16-week experimental lab,” said Kris Muir, professor of the integrated business experience (IBE) course. “These students exceeded my expectations with how much they were willing to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty, not always knowing exactly how things were going to work out in their companies.”
On December 6, the IBE course culminated in the Showcase Event, when students presented their companies, financials, and key learning insights to a group of faculty, staff, and students. The event included a 45-minute presentation followed by a networking social with table poster presentations in the Mays Business School Cocanougher Center. The presentation was shown on Facebook Live via the MS Business Facebook page.
This semester the four teams are United for 30, Ripple Effect, Old Army Decor and Restore, and AgScents.
- AgScents is a company that sells candles centered around the traditions of Texas A&M. AgScents organized a candle-purchasing competition among Texas A&M’s women’s organizations and donated half of their profits each to Maggies and Aggie Southern Darlings.
- Old Army Decor & Restore specializes in the sale of restored wooden furniture. Old Army partnered with Brazos Valley Young Life.
- United for 30 sold attachable phone pockets. It strives to create a community inspired by stories of survivors and loved ones to end cancer. Their company supports cancer research and the American Cancer Society.
- The Ripple Effect is a lifestyle apparel T-shirt business that partners with the charity Americares to provide natural disaster relief. Americares is the global non-profit leader for donated medicine and supplies. Every $1 of profit donated to Americares provides $20 worth of aid to the customer’s relief effort and choice.
The Ripple Effect
The program focuses on imparting core business knowledge, solid critical thinking skills and a basic understanding of leadership best practices – with emphasis on experiential learning, teamwork and career preparation. It 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.
McKenzie Mull, a wildlife and fisheries science ’15 graduate who worked on the AgScents team, said the IBE course was unlike anything she has experienced. “I think it is definitely unique,” Mull said. “I have talked to a lot of people at different schools that have a similar program, but they don’t have the application. Here, we are getting the theory [and the application]. All of our classes have us integrate what we are doing with our own businesses and apply it right then. It’s very ‘textbook to application,’ which is so cool.”
Update: In only two years, MS Business students have donated $24,636 and 538 service hours to their chosen charities.