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 ventures at this year’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans (EBV), hosted by Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, ranged from network solutions for small businesses to artisan products to novel applications of artificial intelligence. The 21 veterans in this year’s class came from across the United States and represented nearly every branch of the military.

Since 2008, the McFerrin Center has hosted the intensive training program developed to help disabled veterans develop the competencies and skills necessary to create and sustain an entrepreneurial or small business venture.

‘Boot camp’ a fitting name

The term “boot camp” is not used lightly when it comes to EBV. In order to graduate from the program, each participant must complete a 30-day online training program and a nine-day residency hosted at Texas A&M University. During the in-residence portion, the participants were in class from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and worked on their business plans and final presentations every night during mentoring hours. McFerrin Center Executive Director Richard Lester referred to the program experience as akin to “drinking from a firehose.”

The lectures and presentations throughout the week covered topics such as finance and accounting, government contracting, human resources and marketing. The deluge of information caused a visible shift in the veteran’s energy levels throughout the week. Participants bounded into class on Sunday morning full of excitement and by Thursday they shuffled into the classroom, coffee cup in hand.

An Aggie integration

While EBV does consist of a significant amount of hard work, McFerrin Center goes to great lengths to ensure that none of the veterans burn out from information overload. On Tuesday, participants enjoyed a relaxed evening of networking at the Benjamin Knox Wine Gallery. The Southwood 4-H club hosted their annual evening of fellowship with home-cooked Tex-Mex food and a table filled with hand-made desserts on Wednesday. Thursday evening, the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets hosted a dinner at the Sanders Corps Museum and participants met current members of the Corps of Cadets and learned about the history of Texas A&M.

The week-long residency culminated with final presentations and closing ceremonies on July 21. Mentors from the Bryan/College Station community attended final presentations at the Center for Executive Development and provided feedback and final words of encouragement to the veterans. The program officially concluded on Saturday evening with closing ceremonies. There was a distinct celebratory feeling to the event as each veteran was awarded their program diploma. Honored guests such as Nancy Williams of the Cockrell Foundation and Eli Jones, the dean of Mays Business School, were in attendance. The evening was made even more special when Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez, Jr. ’79, Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, delivered a poignant speech on what it means to be a leader that resonated with the entire room.

After spending the week with the participants and watching them grow as entrepreneurs, it can be hard to say goodbye. However, the journey isn’t over. Being an EBV graduate from Texas A&M means becoming a member of the Aggie family. As each veteran returns home with renewed fervor for their venture they will receive continued support from both the McFerrin Center through mentorship and guidance.

Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Diversity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Programs, 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

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Selfless service, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

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

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

Mays Business School takes great pride in its commitment to being on the leading edge of business, education, and research. The latest evidence is the hiring of corporate management and marketing executive Bill Peel ’74 as the school’s executive director of innovation and strategic planning, a role that is unique in higher education.

Peel’s diverse professional background and knowledge of design thinking will be a tremendous asset to Mays. “Bill comes to us with an extensive business background and is someone who is very creative and has a high level of integrity,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones. “Plus, Bill’s an Aggie so he understands and embraces Texas A&M’s unique culture and inherent values.”

In his new position, Peel – who holds degrees in environmental design and architecture from Texas A&M – will facilitate the implementation of the school’s strategic plan. He also will oversee Mays’ marketing, communications, public relations, corporate relations and alumni relations. …Read more

Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Staff, Texas A&M

The world of 3D printing is no longer an unattainable dream; 3D printers have been set up in Startup Aggieland, a facility operated by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. These 3D printers can be used by any students who want to print out their innovative new ideas, but as a 3D model and not just as a 2D image.

Charles Hinton, I-Corps Director and Startup Aggieland veteran, is facilitating the startup process for these new 3D printers. As a Texas A&M graduate, Hinton understands the importance of students expressing their ideas in creative ways. According to Hinton, these printers will serve as the beginning of the development of a makerspace in Startup Aggieland, where students and faculty can come to design, experiment, and learn.

These 3D printers will give students the opportunity to build a touchable “first look” at the ideas and gadgets they have created in their head or on paper. This is an incredible feat for students who are looking to become entrepreneurs or students who just want to know if their idea could have any commercial value.

Users of the printer must first generate a model of the product they want to manufacture, which they can do on a 3D modeling software called Solid Works that can be acquired for free from the university. The students then bring their design to Startup Aggieland, where a different software will slice and convert the design to a printable format. The 3D printer can then get to work by adding layer upon layer of raw material fed into the printer to create a final product. …Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, I-Corps, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

Rankings featured in Entrepreneur magazine

Mays Business School at Texas A&M University offers one of the best programs for students aspiring to launch their own businesses, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company named the school #18 on its list of “Top 25 Graduate Schools for Entrepreneurship of 2018.”

Mays broke into the top 20 among graduate programs this year after ranking 21st last year in that category and 20th among undergraduate programs. The Princeton Review’s lists of top schools for entrepreneurship education for 2018 was posted on Nov. 14. Texas A&M is one of 12 public schools on the list.

Entrepreneurship is one of the top areas of focus for Mays. “We strive to make it as easy as possible for students to launch their ideas,” said Richard Lester, executive director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Mays. “We draw from our supporters, alumni, and faculty and staff to provide business start-up acceleration, competitive opportunities, work experiences, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community and across the world.”

The McFerrin Center serves more than 3,000 students and more than 1,000 former students through 27 programs. It aims to enhance entrepreneurial student education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty, and alumni.

The Princeton Review tallied its lists of top 25 undergraduate and top 25 graduate schools based on a survey it conducted from June through August 2017. Out of more than 300 schools offering entrepreneurship studies that The Princeton Review surveyed, 38 institutions’ undergraduate and/or graduate programs made the roster of top schools for 2018.

…Read more

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