Competition is no stranger in the SEC. Whether it’s athletic or academic prowess, students at each university are driven by the desire to be recognized as “#1.” The 2018 SEC Student Pitch Competition boasted an unrivaled level of innovation, skill, and grit that could only be found in the Southeastern Conference.

This year’s competition was hosted at Texas A&M University by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, all competitors and their respective directors were invited to a private welcome reception. To kick off the evening, the group was led to a private room where they were greeted by Chef Mikeal Frey of the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center and given a short lesson on how to “make your own” guacamole. The students were then let loose for the first-ever “SEC Guac-Off.” Cross-conference teams were assigned to different tables and they each had 12 minutes to make their own avocado masterpiece. Afterward, the multiple judges and center directors attending the reception voted on their favorite recipe. This cleverly executed icebreaker helped to set the tone for the rest of the evening.

“We wanted to give the students a fun and uniquely Texan opportunity to get to know each another as colleagues versus competitors,” commented Blake Petty, director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. “Being a student entrepreneur can be difficult and lonely, and many can become isolated from their peers. We wanted them to understand they are not alone, that there are students all over the SEC pursuing similar passions.”  Students carried their culinary creations back to the dining room, chatting with one another like they were friends rather than rivals.

The SEC Student Pitch Competition was a day-long affair during which each SEC University Champion Team (one per university) presented in front of two preliminary round panels of three to five judges in parallel sessions. This ensured that all teams were seen by the same judges. The judges were all alumni of an SEC school to help keep the scoring as unbiased as possible. Teams were evaluated on the quality of their pitch and the viability of their business. On Monday, Oct. 8, 13 teams competed, but only three would be selected as finalists.

Final pitches were held at the All American North Club in Kyle Field ,and open to the public. Local entrepreneurs, SEC alumni and family and friends braved a stormy evening to see if their team would be announced as a finalist. Blake Petty emceed the evening and held the crowd in suspense as he recapped the day. Finally, Petty announced that the finalist teams were Roo Storage from University of Missouri, Lapovations from University of Arkansas, and Navibās of University South Carolina. Teams were allowed 10 minutes for their pitch with five minutes of Q&A. Each pitch was remarkably well structured and involved the innovative use of existing technologies in a novel manner.

After a long deliberation, Lapovations was announced as the 2018 SEC Student Pitch Champion – the second year in a row for an Arkansas team to take the title, and with it a $5,000 cash prize. Second place and $3,500 was awarded to Roo Storage, and third place and $1,500 was awarded to Navibās.

When asked what makes the SEC Student Pitch Competition unique, Petty said, “There are hundreds of business plan competitions at universities around the globe, just as there are hundreds of athletic events each week. What sets the SEC Student Pitch Competition apart is its convergence of athletic and academic competition, against the backdrop of entrepreneurship and innovative, real-world problem solving. Just as exciting as it is to see our favorite student athlete make it into the pros, how exciting is it to see our fellow SEC student entrepreneurs competing to make a real difference in tomorrow’s marketplace?”

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

  

October Startup Spotlight

When YouTube was founded in 2005, no one could have foreseen that the video sharing platform would become an entrepreneurial hot-spot. Professional YouTube creatives generate a product, work with key strategic partners to achieve business goals, develop healthy revenue streams, and engage with their customers to better direct their products and brand. Sounds a lot like running a business, doesn’t it? A professional YouTuber is now, well, a thing. Not only a thing, but a legitimate commercial venture for hard-working creators.

Tyler Anderson ’19 is one such creator. His YouTube channel, TylersReelFishing, has more than 112,000 subscribers, and he’s uploaded more than 800 videos that have garnered 15 million total views. Did I mention he’s done all of this in just five years?

…Read more

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

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. …Read more

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. …Read more

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