If you entered the Grand Stafford Theater on the evening of August 13, you would have been surrounded by some of the biggest proponents of entrepreneurship in Bryan/College Station. Business owners, Texas A&M University faculty, and members of local agencies such as the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation came together around one common interest: Startup Aggieland.

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the Startup Aggieland Reveal Party after hinting that those in attendance would have a chance to “meet the new Startup Aggieland.” Attendees were treated to canapés provided by Chef Tai Lee and enjoyed the industrial-chic atmosphere of the historic downtown Bryan concert venue. Conversations drifted among clusters of attendees, each of them buzzing about what exciting new plans the McFerrin Center had in store for Startup Aggieland.

Director Blake Petty kicked off the night with a booming “Howdy!” and introduced Assistant Director LauraLee Hughes. Hughes joined the McFerrin Center in early 2018 and has brought with her a background in technology commercialization and an undeniable passion for early-stage ventures. “It is an exciting time for entrepreneurs at Texas A&M,” said Hughes. “There is more awareness than ever among students, faculty, staff, and the community about entrepreneurship and they are all looking for resources that can help navigate the path to becoming an entrepreneur.”

Unveiling the entrepreneurial journey

As the night unfolded, Hughes shared her new vision for Startup Aggieland, which is centered on a multi-phase “entrepreneurial journey.” Students and clients of Startup Aggieland will work with staff members to see which of the three phases they’ll most benefit from; Explore, Pursue, or Launch. Students who engage with programs in any phase will be introduced to a wide array of workshops, meetups, and mentor nights that will allow them to grow and develop their knowledge of entrepreneurship.

In addition, Hughes debuted Startup Runway, a first-of-its-kind pre-accelerator program that will allow students to determine whether their businesses will have a viable place in the market. Hughes also announced the development of the Startup Aggieland Business Incubator that will provide validated early-stage ventures with the resources necessary to formally launch and grow a business. The Business Incubator and many of the Startup Aggieland resources and programs will now be available to Texas A&M faculty and staff along with members of the local community. “Through our new programs at Startup Aggieland, we are providing an environment in which aspiring entrepreneurs can learn, test their ideas, network, and hopefully achieve their dreams of owning their own business,” Hughes said. “I am excited about the impact these programs will have in growing the community at Startup Aggieland and helping more people realize that entrepreneurship can be for them too.

The packed audience also enjoyed presentations from three student teams who have been a part of the Startup Aggieland Summer Program.

At the end of the evening, Hughes spoke to attendees directly, calling upon “the friends and supporters of the McFerrin Center” to help ensure Startup Aggieland continues its success. “The involvement and support of mentors is critical to the success of the McFerrin Center and Startup Aggieland. The real-world experience, expertise, and guidance mentors offer to our entrepreneurs is more valuable than anything they will learn in the classroom.”

During her closing remarks, Hughes announced one of Startup Aggieland’s newest programs, Mentor Network. The program is specifically designed to engage with mentors and professionals in meaningful and mutually beneficial ways. “As our programs grow, we hope to expand our mentor network and be able to provide more opportunities for our mentors to engage with the Startup Aggieland community,” she said. “Whether you are interested in being a speaker, holding office hours, or working with individuals or teams on their business venture, I’d like you to join us at Startup Aggieland and help us in developing the next generation of Aggie entrepreneurs.”

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Spotlights, Staff, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The 2018 back-to-school shopping season is underway, and spending is expected to reach almost $27.6 billion – nearly 50 percent of annual school-related spending for a quarter of U.S. households. The one-month countdown to the first day of classes is under way, as many school districts have a start date of Monday, August 20.

In-store vs. online

Brick-and-mortar stores remain in the lead with back-to-school shoppers, but online spending continues to increase. Based on a survey by Deloitte, 57 percent of back-to-school shopping will be conducted in-store compared to 23 percent online, with 20 percent undecided how they will shop. Up from 2017, online shopping has gained ground in sales of school supplies, clothing, and computers. However, in-store sales are up for electronic gadgets. Despite the increasing push from online shopping, 96 percent of parents will head to a physical store at least once during the back-to-school shopping season, according to RetailMeNot.

“While a healthy economy is likely to lift purchasing across all categories, electronics spending is on track to out-pace apparel by 2019. Looking cool is certainly not just about what brand you do or don’t wear, but about what smartphone is in your pocket,” (Reference: RetailMeNot) says Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.

How much time do shoppers allow?

Approximately $18 billion will be spent in the four-week period between mid-July and mid-August, reaching a peak in early August. Nearly 62 percent of parents have started their back-to-school shopping before August. According to a study by Deloitte, early shoppers are likely to spend 20 percent more than those who start late, and 68 percent of consumers intend to finish their back-to-school shopping within a month. However, the longer a person extends his shopping, the more he is likely to spend.

“It’s possible that people who enjoy shopping tend to start shopping earlier and plan to spend more while shopping,” added Christina Kan, an assistant professor of marketing at Mays Business School who researches consumer behavior and psychology.

Time to look for deals?

According to RetailMeNot, 67 percent of shoppers say they look for more savings during the back-to-school season than other times of the year, which is up from 36 percent in 2017. Anticipated spending is up across all major categories, with shoppers looking to spend the most on clothing. For 65 percent of parents, final price is the biggest factor in what they will buy for their kids. Based on figures from the National Retail Federation, households with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of nearly $685 each.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship welcomed 22 veterans to Aggieland for the 11th annual Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) on the evening of Saturday, July 14.

EBV at Texas A&M University is an exceptional initiative that leverages the resources and infrastructure of higher education to provide entrepreneurial skills and small business management training to post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities. Part of a nationwide consortia of nine universities offering EBV to disabled veteran entrepreneurs, the overall goal of Texas A&M’s program is to open the door to economic opportunity for our veterans and their families by developing their competencies in creating and sustaining a commercial venture.

The opening ceremonies were held at the Association of Former Students with a welcome address made by Kathryn Greenwade ’88 of the Association of Former Students and opening remarks made by David Shimek ’86 of the program’s underwriter, The Reynolds and Reynolds Company.

Honoring the past, encouraging the future

Ron Poynter, retired Army helicopter pilot and EBV Class of 2012 graduate, was recognized with the Robin ’76 & Robert Starnes ’72 EBV Outstanding Alumni Award and delivered an encouraging and thoughtful speech to this year’s participants. Poynter encouraged the 2018 class to stay focused and engaged in their industry’s trends and to be prepared for a lot of hard work.

The program consists of a 21-day online course followed by a nine-day residency at Texas A&M. During the in-residence portion of EBV, participants will spend the week attending lectures and workshops at Mays Business School’s Center for Executive Development, where they will learn about enterprise basics, lean startup methodologies and small business growth strategies. The bootcamp extends well into the evening hours with individual breakout meetings between participants and volunteer mentors from the local community. Thanks to the generosity of the program’s individual and private-sector sponsors, EBV is offered at no cost to the participants.

This year’s class includes business ventures ranging from an eco-friendly flower alternative to healthcare to drone-imaging services, with nearly every venture focused on employing and giving back to fellow veterans.

Categories: Centers, Diversity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Alliance combines research expertise and entrepreneurship for new transportation advances

Taking innovative transportation ideas and working with the private sector to develop them into viable products and services that improve transportation safety and mobility is the goal of a new partnership between the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

The partnership was announced Wednesday, May 9, at the Texas A&M Transportation Technology Conference by TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree and Mays Business School Dean Eli Jones. It is the first partnership of its kind for both TTI and Mays, as it marries the entrepreneurial-focused educational and experiential opportunities offered by the McFerrin Center with the deep transportation research expertise at TTI, a state agency and member of The Texas A&M University System.

Designated the “Innovation Hub @ TTI,” the purpose of this venture is for TTI and the McFerrin Center to work together with a range of partners to develop transformative transportation solutions that address long-standing mobility and safety challenges.  The goal is for these solutions to be marketable to the public and provide product commercialization opportunities.

“This is a paradigm shift in how we at TTI might think about approaching a transportation problem and formulating a solution,” said Ginger Goodin, TTI senior research engineer, who is leading the initiative. “As a public transportation research agency, it is becoming increasingly important for us to engage more deliberately with the private sector in addressing today’s transportation issues because our transportation system is clearly becoming more reliant on private-sector innovation. The McFerrin Center offers TTI expertise in facilitating industrial partnerships and identifying marketplace needs to help us grow our private-sector relationships.”

“The Texas A&M University System has profound innovation capabilities, and our researchers are thought leaders within practically every industry,” said Blake Petty, director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. “TTI’s researchers are a shining example of transportation thought leaders, and we are pleased to partner with TTI on this new venture. We envision the Innovation Hub @ TTI will make a significant impact on how we innovate and translate next-generation transportation technologies to the marketplace. We also see the partnership as a prototype for problem-solving innovation and entrepreneurship training across the Texas A&M System.”

The Innovation Hub @ TTI will function as a catalyst for interdisciplinary research and innovation in emerging transportation solutions and will include the involvement of TTI researchers, Texas A&M students, private-sector partners and the broader transportation community.

About the Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Recognized as one of the premier higher education-affiliated transportation research agencies in the world, TTI’s research and development program has made significant breakthroughs across all facets of the transportation system. TTI research is widely known as an excellent value with a proven impact of saving lives, time and resources. In the laboratory and the classroom, TTI researchers help prepare students for transportation careers.

About the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Since its inception in 1999, the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has served as the hub of entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University. Offering more than 30 enterprising programs each year, the center engages student and non-student entrepreneurs in a variety of opportunities to enhance their entrepreneurial skills. From business plan competitions to entrepreneurship certificates to the Startup Aggieland accelerator to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, the center’s programs are touted as transformative and inspiring.

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Research, Texas A&M

The first-place team in the inaugural Aggie Pitch competition on April 20 was Bezoar Labs – a team familiar to McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship because it received honorable mention in the 2017 Raymond Ideas Challenge.

Of the 10 finalists in the competition in which students from Texas A&M System schools and branch campuses pitch their business concepts, eight had been involved in McFerrin programs (3 Day Startup, Ideas Challenge, and Startup Aggieland).

Bezoar Lab team members said their invention “tackles every element of our planet’s complex web improving its health by creating a safer, more nutritious protein sources for all.” Team members were Ryan Springer, manufacturing and mechanical engineering technologies; and Grace Tsai, nautical archaeology.

McFerrin Center Director Blake Petty said the first competition was encouraging. “Our inaugural Aggie Pitch event showcased the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit behind our top student entrepreneurs,” he said. “McFerrin Center looks forward to enabling the next wave of students within our Aggie Entrepreneurial Ecosystem to be even stronger competitors in 2019 and beyond.” …Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Students, Texas A&M

Lauren Osborne has been named Advisor of the Year. The university-level recognition from the Division of Student Affairs recognizes advisors who distinguish themselves by providing exemplary guidance, support, and dedication to the advisement of a recognized student organization at Texas A&M University.

Awards are presented annually to one advisor from each of the three categories: registered, affiliated, and sponsored. Osborne advises the Student Retailing Association, which is a registered organization.

Osborne is the program manager for the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) in Mays Business School’s Department of Marketing.

Osborne encourages officers to step up as leaders, said CRS Director Kelli Hollinger. “SRA runs incredibly smoothly and provides extraordinary professional development opportunities for its 65 members.”

Hollinger said she sees Osborne’s passion for her work exhibited every day. “Students admire her so much for genuinely caring about their academic success, career ambitions, and personal stories,” she said.

Osborne graduated from Texas A&M in 2005 with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with an emphasis in Tourism Marketing. She will celebrate her five-year anniversary with Mays on July 1. She started with CRS as program coordinator, and was promoted to program manager in 2016.

She previously worked as the director of development for the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley. Before that, she worked as an executive meeting manager in the hotel industry for 6 ½ years at properties in Texas and Mississippi.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Staff, Texas A&M

Marketing Professor Venkatesh Shankar was an invited guest of the U.S. State Department in  Cairo, Egypt last week, where he delivered multiple presentations on marketing. He said online promotion can make a quantum leap in the trade between Egypt and the United States.

At the International Conference on Business Sciences on April 15-16, Shankar delivered presentations on “Innovations in Emerging Economies” and “Digital Marketing: Trends and the Future.” He spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce, Cairo University, Nile University, Ain Shams University, American University in Cairo, and American Embassy.

During a meeting with a number of journalists at the American Embassy in Cairo, he said electronic marketing helps to provide information about the products available in Egypt, and is a competitive advantage in the U.S. market. “Electronic marketing can make a difference in the movement of trade in the sectors of cars and technology among countries in the next five years,” he said.

Shankar said the advantages of electronic marketing will not stop at exports and imports between Egypt and the U.S., but could also introduce American consumers to some Egyptian products and services, enabling Egyptian entrepreneurs to market their products electronically and exchange experiences with their counterparts in the U.S.

“The challenge here is that some communication technologies are not as powerful in rural areas,” Shankar said. “They will have to focus on covering those regions.”

Shankar called on all companies to increase their investments in the development of the technology sectors infrastructure, which helps to expand the establishment of electronic stores and facilitates the transport of electronic goods. “Large companies rely on electronic marketing because they consider it a powerful tool to promote their products,” he said.

About Shankar:

Venkatesh (Venky) Shankar is the Coleman Chair Professor of Marketing and Director of Research at the Center for Retailing Studies, Mays Business School. His areas of specialization include digital business, marketing strategy, innovation, retailing, international marketing, and pricing. He has been recognized as one among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds by Thomson Reuters and as a Top 10 scholar worldwide on innovation.

 

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M

The public is invited to watch the finals on April 20 for Aggie Pitch, the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship’s inaugural pitch competition in which students from Texas A&M System schools and branch campuses pitch their business concepts.

 

Registration will start at 9 a.m., and the program will begin at 9:30 a.m. The awards luncheon will begin at noon. RSVP here: www.AggiePITCH.com

In recent weeks, the participants have gotten a chance to showcase their ideas. In addition to a cash prize pool of $50,000, the winners potentially will be considered for nomination to additional business plan/pitch competitions across the nation.

Finalists invited to the April 20 event will be evaluated and scored by a panel of prestigious entrepreneur/investor judges who volunteer with the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. The judging panel includes Blake Teipel, Ph.D., a local entrepreneur and former student collaborated with the McFerrin Center in 2015 to win a number of business plan competitions around his company concept, including the Rice Business Plan Competition. The Aggie Pitch award winners will be announced at the luncheon shortly after noon.

The goal of Aggie Pitch is to encourage all Texas A&M students to explore entrepreneurship and learn how to deliver their business concepts in the most compelling fashion.

…Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Research, Students, Texas A&M

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) proudly announces its partnership with the (R)Tech Center for Innovation. Texas A&M becomes one of 10 inaugural affiliate universities to align with the (R)Tech Center, organized by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and create a retail-tech talent pipeline.

RILA is the trade association for America’s largest and most respected retailers, representing more than 200 members. The partnership between Texas A&M and RILA strengthens corporate relationships with current CRS partners like H-E-B and Dollar General, while connecting CRS with other top retailers such as Best Buy, The Home Depot, and Apple.

The (R)Tech Center for Innovation, launched by RILA in 2017, focuses on helping retailers navigate the industry’s transformation through research, innovative technologies, and creating a culture of innovation – exposing retailers to the technologies and innovations driving change in retail.

“For 35 years, Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has promoted retailing as an aspirational career choice. Our graduates possess the business acumen to drive sales at America’s largest companies. The partnership with RILA enhances our ability to train students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build essential technical skills so they can become transformational leaders in retailing,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M.

The (R)Tech Talent Pipeline will attract and expose young graduates with tech backgrounds to opportunities in the industry, helping shape a 21st-century retail workforce as retailers continue to innovate.

“We are excited to bring innovation to the forefront of retail and provide a test bed for new concepts, technologies, and user experiences. Supported by strong research in the area of design, augmented reality and consumer behavior, we expect this will lead to significant new insights into today’s consumer, and what retail of the future will hold,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Hillman was among the Outstanding Doctoral Alumni from Mays Business School in 2008.

Beginning this year, RILA and the (R)Tech Center for Innovation will address the need for recruiting employees with technical skills in three phases. Phase one will focus on four strategies that initiate the talent pipeline: hosting hackathons that expose students to retail challenges, facilitating a global case competition for creative student ideas, creating multi-use experimental stores with physical locations on select campuses, and launching an online certification specifically for mid-to-senior-level retail executives to educate them on innovative trends. Phases two and three will involve a program to recruit new talent into the industry and help retailers build tech skills in-house.

For more on this announcement, visit www.rila.org.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Valentine’s spending looks to enjoy a similar boost seen with the 2017 holiday season, the most since the Great Recession of 2009. Strong indicators include a roaring stock market, low unemployment, and high consumer confidence.

Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies, says, “Shoppers opened their wallets more than analysts expected this past Christmas, with many retailers exceeding sales projections. Both retailers and consumers are beginning 2018 with more optimism. For Valentine’s Day romantics looking to spend on their sweethearts, retailers will offer promotions for top-gifting items, like candy, flowers, and jewelry that fit any budget.”

Create something memorable
Experiences remain popular, even when the sweetheart in your life is a furry friend. PetSmart is hosting pup playtime 9-5 on Valentine’s Day in select markets. Doggie desserts include a free ice cream treat, plus a free digital keepsake for pet parents.

If day trips are more appealing than diamonds, shoppers seeking experiences can book special romance packages like some of the options from Groupon, Travelzoo, or Renaissance Hotels.

Personalized gifts such as one-of-a-kind socks emblazoned with couple’s names or even faces, like sockprints.com add a little humor to gifting.

For a special night out, online sources like OpenTable are helpful for finding local restaurants with special menu items and promotions for February 14th.

Online and mobile shopping continue trending up
More consumers will shop with their thumbs, browsing, and buying more than ever from their mobile devices. Trendsetter Magnolia Market is featuring special selections for Valentine’s Day.

Online purchasing offers added convenience this season. Texas grocer H-E-B offers in-store pickup or delivery with floral orders.

Tech gifts are in
Besides traditional Valentine’s Day surprises, tech, and mobile accessories have become a popular item for both men and women. Online retailing giant Amazon is featuring deals on hundreds of tech selections, from headphones and smart watches to romantic-themed movies.

Don’t forget the favorites!
Classic Valentine gifts including cards, candy, dining out, and flowers will still top many lovers’ shopping lists.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M