Meet Connor Pogue, Startup Aggieland’s newest entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). Connor is the CEO and co-founder of Exosphere Fitness, a consumer fitness product that looks like a yoga mat, but functions as a full gym.

Ever since he was a little kid, Connor dreamed of being a doctor. “The plan was that I would be an orthopedic surgeon and my brother would be a physical therapist and eventually we would open a practice together,” he said. However, during an internship at a hospital, Connor quickly realized his dream had changed, “I was already getting frustrated with the paperwork and healthcare industry. I would look around and think about how I could make things better but wasn’t actually able to make a difference.” After graduating from Texas A&M in 2016 with a BS in Kinesiology, Connor made the difficult choice to turn down his acceptance into medical school. Instead, he enrolled as a graduate student in Mays Business School and eventually earned his MS in Business. “I enjoy what I do now,” he commented. Connor still achieved one of his childhood dreams though; his brother is the co-founder of Exosphere Fitness. “I’ll never forget the moment my mom saw our first prototype,” he recalled, “she looked at it and then just hugged me and said ‘I love you, but you’re crazy.’”

Now, Connor is working on his startup full-time, serving as Startup Aggieland’s newest EIR, and has several contracts as a business consultant. Connor is most excited about helping Texas A&M students achieve their goals as entrepreneurs. “I love working with students,” he said, “I love the passion of student entrepreneurs. I don’t care what their idea may be. I’m driven by their passion and the work they’re putting into their dreams.” As an EIR, Connor will help students engage with the Startup Aggieland community and provide guidance and support as they explore their ideas and launch their companies.

About Exosphere Fitness

The Exosphere Gym is deceptively powerful. The entire system weighs a little over 20lbs, but users can do over 100 exercises with 5-200lbs of resistance. “Our slogan is ‘this isn’t a gym you put in your home. It’s a gym made for your home,’” said Connor. The entire gym is designed with today’s modern lifestyle in mind, allowing for maximum benefit while taking up minimal space in your home. When your workout is complete, the gym folds in half with a single movement and can be stored under a bed, in a closet, or behind your sofa. The founders also developed the system to be safe for users and their families. Free weights and heavy, gear-laden machinery can injure or fall on children but not the Exosphere Gym. “The entire device is completely self-contained and incredibly safe.” Exosphere Fitness is a finalist for the 2019 Extrapreneur Award presented by Extraco Bank.

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Ahad Azimuddin ’20 is a born entrepreneur. He sees opportunity everywhere he goes and can’t help but want to solve every problem he encounters. He’s also whip-smart and on a personal mission to serve as a pioneer and champion for innovative medical devices. “I really think I can help bridge the gap between medicine and commercialization,” he stated. Azimuddin knew the next step in his career path was medical school but still wanted the ability to explore his interest in entrepreneurship. What do you do when you want to combine your passion for medicine and business? You enroll at Texas A&M University.

Azimuddin is a medical student in the MD Plus program at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. The MD Plus coursework is incredibly rigorous, but when he graduates in 2023, Azimuddin will have obtained both an MBA and an MD. “The resources provided at A&M are just incredible. Other universities and medical schools simply don’t provide these opportunities,” he said.

Texas A&M University is home to the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, a nationally ranked entrepreneurship center that offers over 30 programs and events that develop and support Aggie entrepreneurs. The McFerrin Center also runs the on-campus student business incubator, Startup Aggieland. “So many other people around you are doing incredible things. Being able to connect with those people and learn from those people is huge, and the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship gives you that opportunity. I was always thinking, where are the startups at a university? Where on campus are they? I found Startup Aggieland and realized this is the environment and community where people are doing really cool stuff, and this is where you can learn from them.”

During his first year at Texas A&M, Azimuddin developed a medical device called LCLIP, a laryngoscope attachment that alerts a physician when they’re in danger of causing dental damage and injury to a patient. The inspiration behind LCLIP actually came from his co-founder, Kevin Kotamarti, who dislodged a patient’s tooth while using a laryngoscope as a resident. “We have a provisional patent that’s been converted to PCT and have a year to nationalize. We’re at the point where we’re looking to license our product to manufacturing companies. LCLIP is classified as a 510K addition to an already cleared device. FDA approval is relatively simple compared to a new medication or a completely new device. It’s the path of least resistance which is actually a big value proposition to the manufacturers.”

When asked why he chose to solve this particular problem, Azimuddin said it was because he wanted to serve patients. “People look at a consent form, and no one cares that they saw vocal and dental damage. The patient is focused on brain damage or death. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there and it’s not costing the healthcare industry. 90% of anonymous survey takers said they caused some kind of dental damage in their career. That’s the opportunity that LCLIP has. We’re solving a problem that exists, but no one has given attention because it’s not a big flashy problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.” Azimuddin doesn’t say “if LCLIP succeeds” instead he says, “when LCLIP succeeds.” It’s not that he believes failure isn’t an option; it’s simply that he already sees his first foray into entrepreneurship as a success. “So far, our first try is going really well. But if something doesn’t work out, if something doesn’t happen, we’ve gained so much knowledge for the next time we’re trying to get a device off the ground. We’re not treating LCLIP as if it’s our last idea. It’s our first idea of many, and it’s been an amazing learning experience. Hopefully whatever we gain from LCLIP, whether it’s knowledge or capital, will be immediately invested into the next project.”

In addition to launching a startup, in 2019 Azimuddin took home 1st place at Aggie PITCH and Raymond Ideas Challenge. The cash prizes from these competitions have helped offset the cost of LCLIP. Azimuddin was also recently hired by a local medical device startup, Saber Corporation after he met the founder through the McFerrin Center’s Mentor Network. “Through Startup Aggieland, I actually got a job, and I’m now employed by Dr. Alan Glowczwski. He’s been the best mentor for LCLIP and also for medical school in general. He’s someone I’ll probably be 20 years from now.” Azimuddin pointed out that this support system has been invaluable to LCLIP and that it’s important for entrepreneurs to remember that you can’t do everything alone. “At Startup Aggieland, you meet a bunch of mentors, and I’m really glad I found a mentor who has gone through medical school and who I have so many similarities with. This is an opportunity that I get because I’m here at Texas A&M. I don’t think I’d have these same opportunities in many other places.”

Earning your MD is difficult enough but combining it with the rigor of an MBA program seems like a recipe for exhaustion. However, Azimuddin says that pursuing his passion for entrepreneurship will make him a better doctor in the long run. “Yes I can be a doctor, but there’s so much more to being a doctor. This initial year has attuned my brain. Going through medical school with this mindset I’ve developed, I’m going to be spotting things left and right. I’m kind of worried that I’ll lose track of everything because there are so many things I want to fix.”

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

After a decade of shaping the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Dr. Richard Lester has decided to step down as Executive Director and return to teaching full-time as a clinical professor at Mays Business School.

Before he was ever formally employed, Dr. Lester was already dedicated to the growth and success of the McFerrin Center. During his time as a Ph.D. student at Mays Business School, he established Texas A&M as a founding member of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) Consortium. “They wanted a guarantee of $150,000, and I told them it was not a problem. I had no idea what I was doing.” This dilemma was a perfect example of Dr. Lester’s entrepreneurial grit. He simply got things done. He raised the $150,000 necessary and EBV has been a signature program of the McFerrin Center since, recently celebrating its 12th anniversary.

In 2008 Dr. Lester accepted the role of Executive Director. He quickly became aware that the Center, then known at the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, was in trouble. “We had two months of salary for our Assistant Director in the bank, and that was it.” The Center had found itself in a position that many startups are familiar with. However, Dr. Lester put his feet to the pavement, quite literally, so he could guarantee the survival of the Center. “I would get out of class at 6 pm on Wednesday and would drive around Texas for the next three days meeting with people to ask if they’d be willing to sponsor an EBV veteran or fund a program.”

Startup Aggieland was the next major milestone in the growth of the Center. “We received a TOP grant out of the University that helped to support us and establish Startup Aggieland.” The five-year grant provided funding for staff, programs, and students involved with the Center through Startup Aggieland. “After that, Startup Aggieland really began to grow organically. The students were all over it.”

In 2017 the McFerrin Family Foundation provided a generous $10 million endowment and renamed the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship to the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. When he received formal confirmation of the endowment, Dr. Lester described it as a truly a heartfelt moment. “Artie was such an accomplished man with an unbelievable work ethic and love for Texas A&M. He was so bright and articulate, but at the same time, he was just a regular guy. We were all in agreement that we wanted the Center to help develop entrepreneurs like him.”

The Center has grown tremendously under Dr. Lester’s guidance and now boasts over 30 programs including EBV, Raymond Ideas Challenge, Aggie 100®, and 3 Day Startup. It was hard for Dr. Lester to pin-point a favorite program. “I’ve always thought that was the beauty of the Center. There are all of the opportunities that you can get involved with, all of these “on-ramps” for students to discover if entrepreneurship is really for them. Entrepreneurship is a very practical skill, and we teach it to students in experiential ways. It’s common at a University for us to focus too much on the theoretical or research aspect of academia. I see the McFerrin Center as a link between the theoretical side of Texas A&M and the practical skills needed for students to succeed in their careers.”

The McFerrin Center would not be the entity it is today without Dr. Lester’s efforts and guidance. He spearheaded the efforts that have enabled the Center to grow from a struggling two-person team to an endowed center that serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. Please join us in offering our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Lester for all he has done to secure the presence of the McFerrin Center for all Aggie entrepreneurs.

Categories: Entrepreneurship, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Next week, a class of 25 veteran entrepreneurs will be traveling to Aggieland to participate in Texas A&M’s annual Reynolds & Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV). EBV is hosted by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, a member of the Mays Business School. From July 20-27 participants will engage in an intensive, experiential training program where they will learn and practice the skills needed to succeed as small business owners. They’ll be taught by Texas A&M faculty and staff, network with local entrepreneurs, and will depart as honorary members of the Aggie family. This year’s program marks the 12th anniversary of EBV at Texas A&M.

When asked why the McFerrin Center views EBV as an invaluable program, Director Blake Petty responded, “We take pride in the quality and impact of each of our Center’s 30 annual programs, but EBV holds a truly special place in our hearts. For these military veterans – many of whom deal with service-related disabilities – we recognize that transition back into civilian life can be daunting. Accepting additional risks by deciding to launch their own business only compounds these challenges. We aim to provide a comprehensive educational experience and support network to help ensure the success of our EBV participants. We’ve seen this one-week intensive experience save careers, change lives, and build lasting relationships between Texas A&M and these military heroes. As we prepare to launch our 12th annual EBV program – our ‘Maroon Anniversary’ requires that we once again raise the bar on our commitment to serve those who have served our country, and help them successfully launch and grow their entrepreneurial dreams.”

EBV is a 12-month-long program divided into three phases. Phase 1 is a three-week online, instructor-led course where participants shape their business plans. Phase 2 consists of an intensive eight-day residency at a university where participants learn the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership from established entrepreneurs and educators. Phase 3 provides post-graduation support and mentorship through EBV Technical Assistance — managed by the IVMF.

Founded in 2007 at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, EBV has expanded to include ten world-class universities. These institutions deliver EBV to post-9/11 veterans who desire to develop the skills and tools needed to launch and maintain successful businesses. Assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), corporate partners, foundations, and private donors allow participants to attend the program cost-free.

Visit ebv.vets.syr.edu for more information.

Categories: Entrepreneurship, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

The feeling never gets old, Kyle Gammenthaler says.

Helping Mays Business School students understand the nuts and bolts of philanthropy by giving away up to $75,000 themselves is always thrilling.

Kyle, who teaches the Strategic Philanthropy class as coordinator of the Certificate in Nonprofit and Social Innovation at Mays, told a crowd of about eighty who gathered for the semester’s check presentations on April 29 that it all started in 2015, when he had “a brilliant idea—that it would be great if students gave away money in a class.”

And this spring, the course’s students, funding recipients, and donors celebrated a huge milestone—passing the $500,000 mark in total giving to organizations in Bryan-College Station.

From $0 to $500,000 in Three Years

With support from Mays administration and generous donors—notably The Philanthropy Lab, a Fort-Worth-area organization that supports about twenty such classes around the country—students provided the first round of funding in spring 2016.

Now, thanks to additional donors, notably the VanLoh family and Cheryl Mellenthin, the class is one of the most successful of its kind in the country.

The VanLohs began donating after seeing the transformational experience their daughter, business honors graduate Grace VanLoh ’19, had as a student in the very first class.

For Cheryl Mellenthin, visiting with Mays students on a Philanthropy Friday was all it took.

“She texted me that night and asked, ‘Where do I send the check?’” Kyle says.

John Sharp ’72, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, attended the April 29 celebration and later said, “The Mays Business School’s philanthropy program is a great example of putting the Aggie values to work.”

Former Student Body President Amy Sharp ’19, a business honors graduate who took the class previously, announced at the event that the two representatives present from The Philanthropy Lab—both Aggies—had decided to give an additional $10,000 in honor of Chancellor Sharp’s visit.

“This has to be the easiest $10,000 Chancellor Sharp ever gave!” she said.

Student-Driven Impact in the Brazos Valley

The eighteen students in the May 2019 class funded eight organizations.

Marketing major and class member Shelby Edwards ’19 says a Charles Dickens quote inspired her to sign up: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

But for Shelby, the class proved to be life-changing.

“I know that what I learned about working with others to make decisions and about how I can make a real impact, even as a younger person, will influence me not only in my profession, but in my personal life, as well,” she says.

The class started the semester by learning about philanthropy and how nonprofits work in general, with a focus on strategic giving and the “why” behind charitable giving.

They crafted their own mission statement as the “why” to guide their decisions: “to thoughtfully invest in nonprofits in the Brazos Valley to move toward their visions and build better communities.”

Next, they chose ten nonprofits for closer review and broke into smaller groups to visit two organizations each. They then shared what they learned with the others and used their strategic approach to make the final decisions on which organizations to fund.

“Giving the money away was an absolute joy,” Shelby says. “The nonprofits showed us gaps in our community that we had not seen before. We were amazed at what they do to make life better for people here.

“My takeaway is that we all have the ability to give money, or time, or effort, not ‘one day,’ but right now, even if we are young and just starting out. We are a generation that can make a difference!”

A Simple but Life-Changing Idea

Business honors Jimmie Fields ’21 explained the powerful concept that inspired the class to fund OnRamp.

“Entrepreneurship is about finding the main pressure point and exploiting it,” he says. “The Jennings family has done just this in the Bryan-College Station area by giving reliable, pre-owned cars to people in need.”

The class gave $11,000 to cover the cost of two cars. OnRamp has provided 23 cars since the organization was founded about eighteen months ago. Other local charities refer clients to the Jennings family for consideration.

“As a pastor at a local church, I meet a lot of single moms who are near poverty and who cannot afford reliable transportation,” Blake Jennings says. “As a result, they find it hard to hold down a job, hard to get their kids to school, and hard to get to doctors’ appointments. My wife and I wanted to do something about it—to serve others just as we encourage our congregation to serve others.”

The Transformational Effect of Mays Philanthropy

Students are transformed by the class in many ways.

For example, Mays graduate Zach Marbach ’17, who took the inaugural class in spring 2016, is now an Associate Program Director with The Philanthropy Lab, as is fellow Aggie Megan Mader ’12. In addition, other students have joined the boards of the nonprofits represented or otherwise made charitable giving a priority in their lives.

“We are incredibly grateful to all who entrust our students to make life-changing decisions with their money,” Kyle Gammenthaler says. “Our next goal: to pass the one-million-dollar mark.”

In addition to OnRamp, the following local charities received funding this semester:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network
  • Health For All
  • Scotty’s House
  • Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • United Way of the Brazos Valley
  • VOOM Foundation

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Staff, Strategic Philanthropy, Students, Texas A&M

Reynolds and Reynolds’ commitment to developing meaningful relationships with Mays Business School students and faculty and its significant philanthropic support resulted in the corporation’s selection as Mays Business School’s 2019 Partner of the Year. This dynamic partnership was highlighted during Reynolds and Reynolds Day at Mays Business School on April 5.

The day’s events included a Top-to-Top meeting between Reynolds and Reynolds executives and Mays’ leaders to discuss industry trends and Mays’ current and future initiatives. Following a recognition ceremony, company executives participated in a meeting with students and faculty from the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute.

Investing significant time, funds in Mays

The company’s relationship with Mays began with Reynolds and Reynolds employees’ increasing involvement with Mays students and faculty. During the ensuing years, Reynolds and Reynolds financial support for Mays programs has grown. “They’ve made a big impact in a short period of time,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones. “The investments that Reynolds and Reynolds have made have been significant. But it’s more than the money. We have great relationships with these folks. They are partners and have given generously of their time, talent, and treasure.”

The company established a $2 million endowment to support Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans and committed $1 million to create the ReyRey Café in the planned new Business Education Complex. More recently, the company dedicated a $4 million endowment for the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute, an interdisciplinary program that will teach Texas A&M students university-wide about the importance of sales and leading edge sales strategies and technology.

Industry leader

Reynolds and Reynolds is a software and technology company serving automotive dealerships and car manufacturers. While the company might not be a well-recognized name in most U.S. households, consumers are impacted by the company’s products and services every time they visit a car dealership. Reynolds is a leader in helping dealerships streamline operations and improve customer satisfaction through its products and services. In business, the community, and in their own company, Reynolds and Reynolds is well known for their strong commitment to building relationships and supporting their employees through innovative professional development programs.

That commitment makes Reynolds and Reynolds’ partnership with Mays Business School a natural fit. “We talk about networking a lot. It’s a fine word but it can be superficial,” said Senior Vice President for Corporate Development Robert Burnett ’87. “What’s real is relationships. I believe that we’re here today as Partner of the Year because of the relationships we’ve built with Mays.”

A commitment to military veterans

One of the deepest relationships is with the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans. “We love the military. We’re led by ex-military and that’s our company culture,” Burnett said. “Dean Jones brought this program to our attention and it was a no-brainer for us to become a partner. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

This unique bootcamp, which is part of Mays’ McFerrin Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, offers cutting-edge experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans who have service-connected disabilities and a passion for entrepreneurship. Veterans are able to take part in the program at no charge.

Reynolds and Reynolds employees regularly volunteer as speakers, panel participants and mentors at the summer bootcamp. Additionally, the company’s philanthropic contributions are funding the program’s growth. “Reynolds and Reynolds’ support is allowing us to expand the number of veterans that we are able to work with in this program,” said LauraLee Hughes, the McFerrin Center’s assistant director of new ventures. “The other big constraint we’ve had is space. Thanks to this funding, we’re able to expand to other facilities and increase the types of activities that we’re able to do with veterans while they are on campus.”

Enhancing knowledge of sales

Reynolds and Reynolds, endowed the recently announced Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute. “One of the things students need to know is sales. You’re always going to be selling something,” said Senior Vice President for Hardware Operations David Shimek ’86. “That’s one of the things that the institute will be teaching – how to present yourself and how to sell yourself, whether you’re selling a product or yourself. That’s going to be important as students go forward.”

Ultimately, Reynolds and Reynolds’ partnership with Mays is devoted to building relationships that will help students succeed both in college and after they graduate. “Reynolds and Reynolds employees from College Station, Houston, and Dayton are on our campus every semester conducting more than 300 individual role plays with students,” said Janet Parish, the director of the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute. “The time invested by the recruiting team and the sales force who really help to train our students by is a huge benefit that Reynolds and Reynolds brings.”

Categories: Alumni, Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Dean Eli Jones, Donors Corner, Entrepreneurship, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Texas A&M

On Friday, April 5, Mays Business School will honor Reynolds and Reynolds as its 2019 Partner of the Year. Designated Reynolds and Reynolds Day in Mays Business School, the day will include a formal recognition ceremony as well as strategic discussion between company officials and Mays leaders and students.

Ceremonies will kick off with a Top-to-Top meeting with Reynolds and Reynolds executives – Senior Vice President for Corporate Development Robert Burnett and Senior Vice President for Hardware Operations David Shimek – and Mays’ senior leadership. At 11 a.m., Dean Eli Jones will present the 2019 Partner to the Year award to Reynolds and Reynolds. This ceremony will take place in the Wehner Lobby. Immediately following, Burnett and Shimek will speak to Mays students who are part of the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute – an interdisciplinary program that develops future sales professionals and advances the sales profession.

Recognizing a leading Mays partner

The Partner of the Year honor is given to an organization that has achieved excellence in advancing Mays’ vision, providing career opportunities, developing quality professionals, and investing intellectual and financial capital towards the realization of Mays’ mission. Initiated in 2016, Mays’ Partner of the Year has previously been awarded to Phillips 66, KPMG, and EY.

“Mays is fortunate to have so many important partnerships with a variety of organizations,” said Jones. “Recipients of Partner of the Year have pushed the concept of partnership to a higher level. They find innovative ways to support our students and faculty and are active in our advisory councils, classrooms, and programs. They also provide important financial support to Mays’ premier programs.”

Automotive industry leader

Reynolds and Reynolds serves the automotive industry by streamlining operations and improving customer satisfaction through the industry’s only Retail Management System. Driven by a 150-year legacy of product innovation and customer service, Reynolds and Reynolds helps dealers transform every aspect of their business.

The Dayton, Ohio-based company has facilities in Houston and College Station as well as Tampa, Florida, and has developed deep ties with Mays as well as with Texas A&M overall. “Reynolds and Reynolds supports our students through internships and hiring our graduates. Company representatives also are regularly involved in our classrooms and many of our programs,” Jones said. “Reynolds and Reynolds has provided significant financial support to Mays, including being a founding partner for the Sales Leadership Institute and the lead founder for the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans through the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.”

For further information about events planned for that day, contact Cindy Billington at cbillington@mays.tamu.edu or 979-458-1872

Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Executive Speakers, Former Students, Mays Business, Texas A&M

Discover the entrepreneurial talent that is being developed at Texas A&M University at Aggie PITCH on Tuesday, April 2 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. Aggie PITCH is hosted by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship and brings together the top entrepreneurial talent from across Texas A&M in a unique and engaging competition environment.

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship isn’t focused on launching a certain number of student startups or churning out the most student entrepreneurs in higher education. Rather, the staff behind the “hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University” is focused on providing opportunities that enable student entrepreneurs to succeed.

From its inception, Essentium was poised to be a lucrative venture. Their innovative and disruptive technology in the 3D printing and additive manufacturing space quickly set them on a pathway for success. They combined the grit of Aggie entrepreneurs with the resources of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.

Blake Teipel ’16, co-founder of Essentium and TriFusion devices, became an “unexpected entrepreneur” during his time as a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M and got involved with the McFerrin Center as he was launching his startup. “When I encountered the McFerrin Center I encountered excellence. I encountered integrity. I encountered leaders who cared about the students at every level,” said Teipel.

Teipel and co-founder Brandon Sweeney ’18 quickly took advantage of every asset that the McFerrin Center offered. “We were able to learn how to start a company. I was able to learn how to pitch an idea and cast an idea in ways that would be accessible and understandable to a wide audience.” Their hard-work and tireless efforts quickly paid off and during their time as students Essentium won multiple business plan competitions, including 1st place at the Rice Business Plan Competition, where they were awarded almost $500,000.

Three years after launching their business, Essentium closed $22.2 million in Series A funding, one of the highest in the history of additive manufacturing. “If I had not been able to participate in the McFerrin Center in a multi-faceted way I think it’s really unlikely that we would have been able to have the success we’ve had,” Teipel said.

“Blake, Brandon, and their entire Essentium team are shining examples of the impact McFerrin Center aims to have on Aggie entrepreneurs. Watching them mature from raw concept in our Raymond Ideas Challenge all the way through Startup Aggieland, and now making such a huge splash in today’s marketplace…we couldn’t be prouder of their success, and their testament to the power of the Aggie Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” commented Blake Petty, Director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.

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

By Carleigh Lenz ’19

Scott Moscrip ’93 began his first successful company, Truckstop.com, in 1995 when internet entrepreneurship was on the absolute cutting edge. Truckstop.com provides a matching service for trucks and freight – “the eHarmony of shipping,” as Moscrip calls it. Some of Moscrip’s entrepreneurial roadblocks were clearly unique to the time (his early customers did not know how to access the Internet), but his experiences provided him with timeless lessons on entrepreneurship. Moscrip shared some of the lessons he learned from his successes and failures with students in the Mays Business School on March 1 as part of the Mays Innovation Research Center’s Professional Speaker Series.

The trucking industry is complicated in that each party is hostile toward the other. Truckstop.com provided companies and truck drivers with a neutral intermediary position to keep everyone happy. Mr. Moscrip found that the best way to please all parties involved is to be transparent. Much of the tension between the parties stems from distrust, but the transparency provided by Truckstop.com eased the nerves of Mr. Moscrip’s customers. He has worked hard to pay close attention to his customers’ requests and often hosts customer retreats to hear what people need from his service. He then uses his customers’ feedback to modify Truckstop’s service.

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Many people believe an entrepreneur is someone who starts a business, but at their core entrepreneurs are simply problem solvers.

While studying to receive a degree in International Studies, Bryce Watson ’16 was invited to travel to China to aid a local non-profit. During his time there, Watson heard countless stories of the harsh working conditions that factory employees faced every day. Employees worked 80-hour weeks in dangerous environments for little pay, and many had been seriously injured on the job. By the end of his trip Watson had heard enough. He returned to Texas A&M University determined to find a way to improve workers’ rights in developing nations. “I wanted to do something about this,” Watson said. “I didn’t just want to learn about it, I wanted to solve the problem.”

Watson quickly realized he was attacking a complex issue. “We started to discover that these multi-national corporations have hundreds of sub-contractor manufacturing facilities that are only audited once or twice a year,” he said. “They have very little incentive to make sure their operating procedures are safe for their employees.”

…Read more

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