McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship | Mays Impacts

Out of 42 finalists, ten teams were given top honors and awarded cash prizes for their innovative and entrepreneurial ideasr

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS May 7, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its second annual and first in-person Texas High School Ideas Challenge today, with competitive presentations held at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center and The Crowd Fund Showcase and Awards Reception (sponsored by Education Advanced) held at the McFerrin Center. Open to high school students across the state of Texas, the challenge, designed to encourage students to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset, awarded more than $10,000 in cash prizes to the top ideas.

Launched in 2021 by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, the Texas High School Ideas Challenge is modeled after the Raymond Ideas Challenge, one of the McFerrin Center’s longest standing programs open each fall to current Texas A&M students. Due to restrictions in place, the inaugural event in 2021 was held exclusively in a virtual format, but the 2022 event was held in person at Texas A&M, giving high school students from across the state the opportunity to visit campus and be introduced to Texas A&M, the McFerrin Center and the Aggie entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In addition to prize money for the top idea winners, this year’s challenge also awarded $3,750 in prizes based on “investments” from “The Crowd Fund,” with showcase guests having the opportunity to visit each of the ideas to meet the student teams and learn about their service or product concept and “invest” in their favorites via “McFerrin Money.”

For the 2022 event, Texas high school students aged 14-18 were invited to apply beginning in late 2021, submitting their idea as a team or individual, via a compelling application demonstrating creative, careful and methodical planning. Following a screening process, a total of 42 finalist teams, comprised of more than 100 students from 18 Texas cities, were selected as finalists and invited to compete in person on the campus of Texas A&M.

Throughout the day, each team presented their idea twice, each time to a different panel of judges. The presentations consisted of a 5-minute pitch of the idea, followed by a 5-minute “Q&A” with the panel. Judges, selected from the McFerrin Center’s network of mentors, successful entrepreneurs and Texas A&M faculty, were looking for competitors who have an outstanding idea and clearly indicate that their idea creates values, can defend their idea against other ideas in the competition, and demonstrate to the judges that the idea is viable in the marketplace with clear evidence that the idea is attractive to a customer. Ideas were scored based on idea uniqueness, target market, competitive advantage, resources, goals and presentation content.

Rudy A., a junior from Centennial High School in Frisco, walked away with top honors and $2,500 for his pitch of WorkBee, a business concept developed with his partner Sarthak D., also a junior, who was unable to attend the competition. WorkBee solves the problem of low inventory of quality holiday decorations and the hassle of installing decorations by enabling customers to purchase customized holiday decorations and labor from local, reliable, responsive, fair-priced contractors.

“A friend who applied for this challenge knew I had this idea, and he suggested I apply as well. I did, and then suggested a different friend also apply with his idea,” Rudy said. “I feel like that sums up entrepreneurship. Healthy competition, but always looking to help and assist others who are also trying to pursue and build their own ideas.”

Following high school graduation in 2023, Rudy plans to attend college, pursuing a degree related to technology and business. “The best takeaway from today was the feedback I received from the judges following my pitches,” he said. “One judge suggested I consider a subscription option, and one even told me it was probably the best pitch he’d ever heard, including from college students. That really made me feel like not only do I have a great idea, but the time, effort and energy I put into preparing for this challenge really paid off. I’m already thinking of a new idea to apply again and come back to Aggieland next year.”

“In only its second year, this is quickly becoming one of our Signature Programs, and one that brings so much positive energy and excitement to the Center and our partners. As a competition focused solely on inspiring, encouraging and celebrating our next great generation of entrepreneurs, the ideas this year did not disappoint, nor did the students themselves, who have been nothing short amazing,” said Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “While we realize not all of these students will choose Texas A&M as a destination after high school, our ultimate goal and purpose is to pour into them at this earliest stage of their entrepreneurial journey and help fan the flame of their entrepreneurial spirit. If we can create a few new Aggie entrepreneurs along the way, we’ll consider that icing on the cake!”

The McFerrin Center is already planning the third annual event, scheduled for May 5, 2023. Updates and more information will be made available at tx.ag/TexasHSIdeasChallenge.

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Winners

Top Idea Winners
1st Place ($2,500): WorkBee | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Active Industrial Fire Protection
Student receiving a big check
2nd Place ($2,000): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by CareerPhysician, LLC
3rd Place ($1,750): Com.Post | Round Rock HS | Round Rock
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): Stoozies: The Heated Shoetree | Canyon HS | New Braunfels
sponsored by Critical Environments Group
Honorable Mention ($750): iPath American English | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): sMile | Centennial HS | Frisco, TX
sponsored by Startup LLC
Honorable Mention ($750): Traverse Marketplace | Vista Ridge HS | Cedar Park
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

The Crowd Fund Winners
1st Place ($1,500): M.T. Equipment Backpacking Table | Westlake HS | Austin
sponsored by Nexersys (XFit Inc.)
Students receiving a b
2nd Place ($1,250): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by Startup LLC
3rd Place ($1,000): Let’s Keep Talking | Elkins HS | Missouri City
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Sponsors

Education Advanced, The Crowd Fund Showcase & Awards Reception sponsor
Active Industrial Fire Protection
CareerPhysician
Critical Environments Group
Mays Family Foundation
Nexersys
Startup LLC (Living Learning Community)

 

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

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

Twenty Aggie-led startups competed in the only university-wide business plan pitch competition.

By Lara Robertson, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS March 8, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fifth annual Aggie PITCH at the Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center Monday evening. Now open to both current and former students, Aggie PITCH is the only university-wide business plan pitch competition at Texas A&M and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitches from across industries and sectors.

For the 2022 event, a total of 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for the coveted McFerrin Cup and a share of more than $35,000 in prize money. Split into three divisions —Full Pitch for both current and former students and Elevator Pitch open to both — the competition gives startup founders the opportunity to pitch their business in a fast-paced, high-energy format to a panel of anonymous judges and an audience of students, professionals, mentors, possible investors and fellow Aggie entrepreneurs.

In the Full Pitch divisions, 10 teams were each given 10 minutes for their pitch. In contrast, the Elevator Pitch competitors were only given a 1-minute allotment for their pitch. Although the anonymous panel of judges was tasked with ranking and selecting the winners of the Full Pitch division, audience members were invited to take part and cast their vote to select for the winners of the Elevator Pitch division.

Finalists’ ventures at this year’s Aggie PITCH represent a variety of industries including agriculture, information technology, consumer products and energy technology, among others, and are now automatically admitted into an exclusive group of startup founders who are eligible to represent Texas A&M University at national and global entrepreneurial competitions.

Flux Works LLC took home first place in the Full Pitch division for current students and was awarded $7,500. Bryton Praslicka ’24, startup lead, reacted with, “Winning to us means that people are excited about our technology. People believe in our technology. And winning this demonstrates that, and that’s really incredible.” Flux Works LLC, a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears, has now met their fundraising goal and plans to use the prize money to buy back their intellectual property from Texas A&M and move into product development.

Taking home top honors and also $7,500 in the Full Pitch division for former students was Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie). Ovie aims to solve the problem of food waste in homes with a digital smart tracking system and plans to use their winnings to purchase prototype samples to get their product into user homes for testing. “Winning Aggie PITCH is so amazing because it validates our idea, where we’re at. And to have our peers and industry professionals that we respect acknowledge that our company is on to something, and believe in us, it means the world. It’s fuel,” stated Ovie lead Stacie Thompson ’02.

“Aggie PITCH continues to be a highlight of our year at McFerrin. The energy in the room is palpable, from both the pitch teams and the audience members getting to experience an event like this,” stated Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “In only our fifth year of Aggie PITCH, we’ve continued to see growth in both the quantity and quality of pitch competitors. Seeing entrepreneurs, specifically Aggie entrepreneurs, pitch their startup businesses to such a diverse, engaging crowd is something I’ll never grow tired of.”

2022 Aggie PITCH Winners

Full Pitch Division | Current Students
1st Place ($7,500): Flux Works LLC [Bryton Praslicka ’24, Daniel Zamarron ‘22]
2nd Place ($5,000): Teale [Narendra Vishnumolakala ’22, Connor Ust ’22]
3rd Place ($3,500): Flow-Pax [Haley Clark ‘23]

Full Pitch Division | Former Students
1st Place ($7,500): Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie) [Stacie Thompson ‘02]
2nd Place ($5,000): ClaraTech [Clara Orlean ‘20]
3rd Place ($3,500): SageSpectra [Madi Heck ’21, Mark Golla ‘22]

Elevator Pitch Division
1st Place ($1,500): South Texas Security Gates [Carson Neal ‘22]
2nd Place ($1,000): Imperium [Donald Bowen ‘25]
3rd Place ($750): Unravl Hair [Zanbria Asante ‘18]

A list of past Aggie PITCH winners can be found at aggiepitch.com.

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

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

More than 200 current students attended the inaugural event featuring 55 Aggie 100™ recruiting companies.

By Lara Robertson, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS February 22, 2022 –The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its inaugural Aggie 100™ Career Fair Friday, Feb. 11 at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center. Exclusive to past Aggie 100™ honored companies, the career fair aimed to connect company representatives recruiting for internships, part-time and full-time positions with current students from across a variety of majors, interests and sectors. Fifty-five companies, 50% of which were represented by the company’s Aggie founder, were on hand to recruit, meet and connect with the more than 200 current students in attendance.

Held annually since its inception in 2005, Aggie 100™ honors the 100 fastest-growing, Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world. Additionally, it provides a forum to pass lessons to the next generation of Aggie entrepreneurs and has grown significantly in its 17 years. After hearing the consistent message from honorees each year that “Aggies want to hire more Aggies,” the McFerrin Center established the Aggie 100™ Career Fair.

Christine Hollinden ‘87, owner/principal at Hollinden Marketers + Strategists and four-time Aggie 100™ honoree, noted that this job fair was unique in that in addition to recruiting students, the companies were able and eager to network with and support each other in identifying good candidates due to their shared entrepreneurial experiences and connections to Texas A&M.

“Texas A&M is known for producing outstanding students,” Hollinden stated. “[The Aggie 100 Career Fair] gives the opportunity for students to really look at entrepreneurial-minded firms, these fast-growth organizations, as a great career opportunity, a great employment opportunity.”

Jackson Wiese ’25, a business honors major, made a point to attend to “meet entrepreneurs and [participate] in a community of entrepreneurship” and noted he particularly enjoyed the unique opportunity to connect directly with founders and companies across diverse industries.

“It’s no secret that the Aggie Network is strong and well-known globally, and this career fair was about us doing our part to plant more seeds and grow more opportunities,” Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center, said. “At McFerrin, our passion and focus are on those with an entrepreneurial interest or attitude, so connecting current students with proven, successful Aggie 100™ companies is an obvious next step for our support of Aggie Entrepreneurs.”

Next year’s Aggie 100™ Career Fair is already in the planning stages, with many of this year’s recruiting companies signed on for the event.

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

 

 

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

McFerrin Center has received the Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award celebrating the unique achievements and outstanding efforts of top entrepreneurship centers around the world.

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University is pleased to announce it is joining an elite group of academic entrepreneurship centers as the newest recipient of the Nasdaq Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. Bestowed upon McFerrin Center leadership at the 2021 Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) annual conference in Baltimore, MD, this award recognizes the dedication and impact the McFerrin Center has made in serving the entrepreneurial community at Texas A&M, across the State of Texas, and beyond.

NASDAQ Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence - 2021 Award Winner

Founded in 1999 and housed in the Mays Business School, the McFerrin Center serves as the campus-wide hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M and is at the core of a flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Central to their mission is the belief that anyone can be an entrepreneur and that successful entrepreneurial skills are best developed through cross-disciplinary and experiential learning. Embodied in the variety of experiences and programs offered, the McFerrin Center has become established as a leader in co-curricular education, applied research, and community engagement in entrepreneurship. Specific accomplishments recognized by the Nasdaq award include:

  • McFerrin Center’s annual offering of 30 unique programs and engagement of 14,000+ students from across 13 different Texas A&M colleges and A&M System campuses, along with countless other Former Student, non-student, and veteran entrepreneurs.
  • Leading innovations in entrepreneurial curriculum through the launch of the Master of Science in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MS-ENLD), an online Graduate Entrepreneurship Certificate (pending approval), as well as many other individual courses and modules taught across campus by the McFerrin Center team.
  • Support of world-class research initiatives that have resulted in over 20 research publications and recognition of research faculty with multiple prestigious awards within the last 5 years.
  • Engagement of multiple corporate and community partners, such as the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation, along with a robust Mentor Network of over 220 individuals from a variety of fields and professional backgrounds.
  • Achieving long-term financial support, including a $10M naming gift from the McFerrin family, a $2M endowment by Reynolds & Reynolds Corporation for the Texas A&M Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program, and numerous other grants, sponsorships, and charitable donations.

Created in 2000 by Nasdaq in association with GCEC, this Excellence Award honors select centers that have made and will continue to make enormous contributions in advancing entrepreneurship as the force in economic growth throughout the world. It also represents the highest honor that a university entrepreneurship center can receive.

Spencer, Petty, and Hughes accept the GCEC award for Texas A&M's McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

When asked what this award means to the Center, Executive Director Blake Petty responded, “No one performs great work simply for the recognition they may receive. However, there are certain honors reflecting such a high standard of excellence, that acknowledgment reinforces the value and importance of that work. The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has a small but fierce team doing amazing and impactful things across the entire university, and beyond. We are both humbled and proud to receive this recognition of excellence in our efforts.”

The Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award adds to a number of other recognitions that the McFerrin Center has earned in recent years, including GCEC’s 2020 Award for Exceptional Contributions in Entrepreneurship Research, and consistent rankings in the top 30 institutions for both undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs by Princeton Review.

About the McFerrin Center

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty, and Former Students. The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating, and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center offering over 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans, and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty, and staff.

For more information on the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, visit mcferrin.tamu.edu.

 

About the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers

The GCEC is the premier academic organization addressing the emerging topics of importance to the nation’s university-based entrepreneurship programs. It has become the vehicle by which the top, established entrepreneurship programs, as well as emerging programs, can work together to share best practices, develop programs and initiatives, and collaborate and assist each other in advancing, strengthening, and celebrating the role of universities in teaching the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The GCEC membership includes 250 of the top university-based entrepreneurship programs from across the globe, and each year their conference is held on the campus of a GCEC member school. For more information on the GCEC, including its awards, visit their website.

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

Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship is proud to publicly announce the companies that were honored at the 17th Annual Aggie 100®. The celebration, held on Friday, October 22, recognized the fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses from across Texas and around the world.

Companies earning their way into the Top 10 in 2021, with growth rate, are:

10. Coleman & Patterson of College Station, Texas – 85.332%

9. Trinity Hughes Construction of Wichita Falls, Texas – 95.496%

8. Selery Fulfillment of Carrollton, Texas – 100.591%

7. Bradley Construction Management of Dallas, Texas – 101.979%

6. WPForms of West Palm Beach, Florida – 107.037%

5. Farmer Law PC of Austin, Texas – 108.415%

4. Bowie Capital of Richardson, Texas – 132.767%

3. Clavis Capital Partners of Dallas, Texas – 142.241%

2. IDC Valores of Guatemala, Guatemala – 221.711%

1. The Albers Group LLC of McKinney, Texas – 321.829%

MB2 Dental, LLC of Carrollton, Texas was also recognized as the 2021 Summit Award Winner, having achieved an average revenue of $303,313,667. In addition, MB2 Dental ranked #24 in this year’s Aggie 100® and is joining a select number of companies to achieve both of these recognitions in the same year.

Launched in 2005, Aggie 100® has become one of the McFerrin Center’s most recognized programs and an aspirational goal for Aggie entrepreneurs around the world. To be considered for the Aggie 100®, companies (corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships) must operate in a manner consistent with the Aggie Code of Honor and in keeping with the values and image of Texas A&M University. They must also meet specific criteria, such as being in business for at least five years and having at least one Aggie as an owner and/or in a select leadership role.

“As we mark our 17th Annual Celebration of the Aggie 100® program, we applaud the ingenuity, determination, and success of Aggie Entrepreneurs across the globe by raising up our newest class of Aggie 100® honorees,” says Blake Petty ’98, Executive Director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. “Despite the tremendous challenges that all businesses have faced in the recent past (and present), the astounding levels of growth and prosperity exhibited by each member company in the Class of 2021 demands our respect, our recognition, and our privilege of welcoming them as the newest additions to our Aggie 100® family.”

A full listing of the 2021 Aggie 100® honorees with detailed ranking information was publicly released Friday evening and can be found at Aggie100.com.

About The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Aggie 100® was created by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship which serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty, and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty, and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating, and life changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center offering over 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans, and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

 

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Media contact: Shanna Spencer, Assistant Director, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, shannaspencer@tamu.edu

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Programs, Texas A&M

By Meredith White, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

COLLEGE STATION, JUNE 14, 2021 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fourth annual Aggie PITCH on the evening of June 13, 2021. Aggie PITCH is open to all current and former students of the Texas A&M University System and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitch. 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for $35,000 in prize money across three divisions: current student full pitch, Former student full pitch, and elevator pitch. This is the first year that Former students were eligible to compete at Aggie PITCH. Each founder competing in a full-pitch division was allotted 10 minutes to give a pitch and answer questions on their business. A panel of anonymous judges made up of investors, successful entrepreneurs, and professionals was hidden among the crowd and selected the winners of the current and Former student pitch divisions. In addition, 9 current and Former student teams gave a 1-minute elevator pitch. Elevator pitch winners were selected by audience vote. The 2021 finalists boasted impressive entrepreneurial endeavors that included medical devices, novel SaaS ventures, and innovative consumer products. At the end of the night, the top startup pitches were announced and awarded significant cash prizes.

Lila Ross ’21, co-founder of Phage Biosciences, won 1st place and $7,500 in the current student full-pitch division. Phage Biosciences provides custom engineered solutions for fighting and controlling disease-causing bacteria. Due to the overuse of antibiotics, many bacteria have become resistant. Phage Biosciences wants to solve this massive public health crisis with their custom tailocins, which are antimicrobial proteins that punch a hole in a bacteria cell, effectively killing it. Ross, who traveled back to campus from out of state to participate in Aggie PITCH, said “Hearing all of the ideas and stuff I would have never thought of was a really unique experience, and so was getting to connect with people who share the same passions as you.”

Blake Petty ’98, Executive Director of the McFerrin Center commented, “The world doesn’t need more great ideas, it needs problem solvers. With Aggie PITCH returning in person, and now including Former students, the selfless service of fellow Aggies is able to thrive in the community that founded it and once again provide the community-based system that leads to the success of many entrepreneurs.”

2021 Aggie PITCH Winners

Current Student Division

1st Place ($7,500): Phage Biosciences| Lila Ross ’20, ’21

2nd Place ($5,000): Al-Ris| Uthej Vattipalli ’22

3rd Place ($3,500): Olera, Inc. | Logan DuBose ’22 

 

Former Student Division

1st Place ($7,500): Datalogz | Logan Havern ’19

2nd Place ($5,000): HelioWave Technologies LLC | Adrian Guzman ’08, ’12, ’19

3rd Place ($3,500): Divergene | Paola Correa, PhD ’15

 

Elevator Pitch Division

1st Place ($1,500): Real Rejuvenations LLC | R’riel Smith ’20

2nd Place ($1,000): Lazarus | Benjamin Omonira ’20

3rd Place ($750): Exosphere Fitness | Connor Pogue ’16, ’18

A full listing of the 2021 Aggie PITCH winners can be found at aggiepitch.com

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Media contact: Shanna Spencer, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, (979) 458-8631, shannaspencer@tamu.edu.

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has released the finalists for the 2021 Texas High School Ideas Challenge. This inaugural competition is the only state-wide entrepreneurial contest offered exclusively to High School students across Texas. Teams from every region of Texas applied for this year’s competition but only 30 ideas were selected to compete. This year’s competition will award over $10,000 in prize money.

Public viewing of the competition is not available. The winners of the 2021 Texas High School Ideas Challenge will be announced via live stream on Friday, April 30 at 3:30 PM. Those interested in viewing the Awards Presentation can do so at tx.ag/TXHSIdeasAwardsCeremony.

Listing of Finalists

The finalist teams and their respective High Schools and cities are included below.

  • Allowance – Vista Ride High School, Cedar Park
  • Bible Land – McNeil High School, Austin
  • Chance Tickets – Centennial High School, Frisco
  • CollegeHype – Clint ISD Early College Academy, Clint
  • Connect Link to Creativity – Clements High School, Sugarland
  • DropaBall – Champion High School, Boerne
  • Entity – Centennial High School, Frisco
  • Environmate – Centennial High School, Frisco
  • Farmer Adam – A&M Consolidated, College Station
  • Florescents – Elkins High School, Missouri City
  • Go!Board – The Woodlands College Park High School, The Woodlands
  • How to Reduce Food Waste in Schools Using Emerging Technology – Cypress Woods High School, Cypress
  • Indus Naturals – Vandegrift High School, Austin
  • Industrifilm – Dulles High School, Sugarland
  • Memory Packages – Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin
  • New Experience for Online Job Search – Centennial High School, Frisco
  • Panacea Therapeutic Socks – William B. Travis High School, Richmond
  • PRACTICE PALS – Klein Cain High School, Klein
  • Pure Bliss Water Production System – The Woodlands Christian Academy, The Woodlands
  • Rentek – Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin
  • A.P.P.E. by MC – Frisco High School, Frisco
  • Shuttle – Memorial High School, Houston
  • Sole Cold – Boerne Champion High School, Boerne
  • Student Power – The Village School, Houston
  • Teen Jobs App – Del Valle High School, Del Valle
  • TowerApp – MacArthur High School, Irving
  • Track&Charge – LASA High School, Austin
  • UnDistract – James Bowie High School, Austin
  • Vitally Green – La Vega High School, Waco
  • WalkThru – Vista Ridge High School, Cedar Park

About Texas High School Ideas Challenge

The Texas High School Ideas Challenge motivates high school students to explore entrepreneurship and discover the benefit of an entrepreneurial mindset. There is no business plan or product development required for the Texas High School Ideas Challenge. Students must prepare and submit a compelling application that illustrated the creative, careful, and methodical planning that has gone into their idea.

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship provides experiential programs, events, and education for entrepreneurs at Texas A&M University and across the state of opportunities for entrepreneurial students at Texas A&M University. We are committed to the success of entrepreneurs and believe that they are the cornerstone of a robust economy and nation.

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Written by Meredith White ’21


 

Every once in a while, a new invention is created that makes consumers and investors pause and wonder at the genius in its simplicity. Around seven years ago, Dr. Albert Huang was removing part of a diseased colon from a patient’s body when he struggled to find and avoid cutting the patient’s ureter. This is a common occurrence with pelvic surgeries and even the most experienced surgeons struggle to identify and avoid the small muscle hidden under multiple layers of tissue. By the end of the procedure, Dr. Huang found himself thinking up new ideas that would make locating the ureter much faster and safer. His ideas began to solidify during a quiet moment in front of his computer. The next thing he knew he was building a prototype and scouring eBay and Radio Shack looking for spare parts. He was making progress towards solving this monumental problem, but he was going to need to make some tough decisions in order to go from Frankenstein prototype to full-blown startup. Dr. Huang resolved to leave active practice in order to pursue his idea, a daunting task considering the lifetime of training it took to become a surgeon. He knew the rare opportunity that he had to make an impact and save lives.

Dr. Huang came to view the pause in his surgical career “[…] as an opportunity rather than a sacrifice.” His unique background as a practicing surgeon has proven invaluable in the development of his company, Allotrope Medical. He knows the atmosphere of the operating room and he understands the needs of the doctors, assistants, and most importantly the patients. Dr. Huang is also keenly aware of the standards medical professionals have for new technology. He used all of this information, in addition to his expertise in human anatomy, to create StimSite.

StimSite simply but elegantly helps surgeons identify and safely work around the ureter during pelvic surgeries and procedures. The ureter is a smooth muscle structure that can blend into the surrounding tissue making it difficult to see. Each year, 1% or more of procedures result in accidental harm to the patient’s ureter. Dr. Huang concluded that by generating an electrical signal, similar to that created by the brain of a conscious patient, he could make the ureter move on demand and become distinguishable among the pelvic tissue. This small movement would make it easier to locate the ureter, decreasing the time surgeons spend trying to identify and avoid the ureter and also significantly decreasing the risk of accidentally injuring this small but vital structure.

After much trial-and-error, StimSite was finally ready and it was time for Allotrope Medical to seek outside investment. “Taking and sharing your vision is always hard to do,” commented Dr. Huang, “How do you [take] what’s in your brain and share that passion?” Dr. Huang’s idea is obviously good, but his mindset is even better. He has the drive and creativity to support his ambitions and the charisma required to make others believe in his company as well. It should come as no surprise that Allotrope Medical and StimSite quickly caught the eye of investors, in particular the Aggie Angel Network. In June 2020 Dr. Huang competed in the virtual Texas A&M New Ventures Competition (TNVC) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and won first place and $50,000. In addition to the first-place winnings, Allotrope Medical received the Aggie Angel Network Special Investment Prize.

The TNVC prize money combined with other investments meant that Dr. Huang had finally secured the funding he needed to move forward with manufacturing StimSite. Dr. Huang was notified in November 2020 that StimSite was awarded FDA clearance making Allotrope Medical one of the few MedTech companies within the Texas Medical Center to receive clearance to bring their technology through hospital doors. After his positive interaction with Aggie Angel Network (AAN), Dr. Huang approached the angel investment group and offered an additional investment opportunity for AAN members as Allotrope began to close on their Series A. AAN members have a keen sense for a good opportunity and invested an additional $300,000 in Dr. Huang’s startup in early 2021.

Dr. Huang commented that StimSite is already having an impact on the medical field. Doctors he has never met in cities he has never been to are using his technology on patients he’s never seen. Some surgeons filmed themselves using StimSite and presented the recordings at classes and symposiums. This enthusiastic adoption from the medical community further validates the major need that StimSite is filling for surgeons across the United State and soon, around the world.

Dr. Albert Huang grew up asking questions and with a desire to understand how the world around him works. He restored vintage cars and motorcycles during his years in medical school. He has always been looking behind the curtain, trying to learn how things work and can be made even better. He worked hard to become a doctor to help other people, but when he found another way to assist mankind, he was willing to focus everything he had on an innocuous thought that grew into something more. His advice to other entrepreneurs is to tell them it’s doable. That dream you’ve had since you were a kid, that passing idea that you came up with during lunch, it’s all doable. And there are people out there who are willing to help you. There are people out there that want to make the world better and will listen to you as long as you, too, are asking questions. If you too are also pulling back the curtain and looking at the world around you with a perceptive eye. To those who are ready to follow in the steps of Dr. Albert Huang, it may be time to take that leap of faith.

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Mays Business School’s master’s in management degree gives students in-classroom and high-impact experience

On December 2, students and faculty of the Master of Science in Business (MS-B) program gathered virtually to celebrate and share their semester-long projects from the Integrated Business Experience (IBE) class.

Young woman wearing mask around wrist, on face, and holding hair

Handy Mask, one business run by MS Business students

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Arvind Mahajan said, “It’s an important day for our students as well as for our program. MS Business admits diverse undergraduate majors and invests in many ways to develop them as transformational leaders with entrepreneurial mindsets. This course is a perfect example of that change.”

The MS-B program is a graduate degree designed for non-business majors who want to grow their business knowledge to supplement their bachelor’s degree.

Various soaps with framed picture of Aggie skyline

Century Tree Soap Company’s soaps

 

Student Rigor

MS Business Program Director, Richard Castleberry, said of the students, “Other than students with great academics and backgrounds, a primary component we look for is students who show the Aggie Core Values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service. We insist these traits display in our students, and I can say that the 62 students that are here today exhibit those Aggie core values.”

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

The Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) recently honored the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship with the 2020 Exceptional Contributions in Entrepreneurship Research Award. GCEC awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the very best of university entrepreneurship.

The award for Exceptional Contribution in Entrepreneurship Research honors a center that is dedicated to supporting the creation of new entrepreneurship knowledge through research that advances the discipline. Dr. Michael Howard, Academic Director of the McFerrin Center, commented, “the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M supports and advances world-class research in the field of Strategic Entrepreneurship; the study of how and why some organizations – whether start-ups or established firms – are successful in identifying and pursuing new entrepreneurial opportunities, while others are not. Our scholars have established an impressive track record of entrepreneurship research, publishing and often serving as editors or editorial board members in top academic journals, demonstrating the broad impact of our center in the academic community.”

This is the 2nd GCEC award for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. Blake Petty ’98, Executive Director of the McFerrin Center, commented, “GCEC represents the world’s premier university-based entrepreneurship programs, and the McFerrin Center is incredibly proud to be recognized for Texas A&M’s world-class research across such a wide spectrum of entrepreneurial topics.”

Entrepreneurship Centers who receive this award are evaluated upon the following criteria:

  • Volume of research produced by those associated with the entrepreneurship center or program
  • Quality of outlets in which the research was published or disseminated
  • Potential of the research to significantly advance the discipline of entrepreneurship
  • Number of faculty and staff involved with entrepreneurship research
  • Support for research in the discipline of entrepreneurship beyond publishing (e.g., reviewing, journal management, hosting conferences, serving as discussant)
  • Demonstrated ability to connect research efforts to other aspects of center programming (e.g., teaching, co-curricular programs, community engagement)

In addition, Texas A&M University won 2nd place in the 2020 SEC Student Pitch Competition. Stephanie Young ’21 represented the University at this year’s competition where she pitched her vet-tech startup, SKYPaws, LLC. SKYPaws is a novel medical device that provides accurate, real-time post-operative animal patient data for veterinarians and their staff. The device is an integral tool for saving patient lives and identifying postoperative complications. The McFerrin Center is responsible for identifying a student entrepreneur to represent Texas A&M University at the annual competition. McFerrin Center Assistant Director LauraLee Hughes ’08 worked closely with Young to prepare for this year’s competition. “Stephanie is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit and student talent at Texas A&M, and we are so proud of her taking second place at this year’s SEC Pitch Competition. She worked persistently leading up to the competition on perfecting her pitch, which conveyed not only a very compelling business opportunity but her undeniable passion for making the SKYPaws device a reality. We are excited for Stephanie to add this as one of her many entrepreneurial achievements while at Texas A&M and look forward to her continued success,” said Hughes.

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Texas A&M University was once again recognized by The Princeton Review as a top university for both graduate and undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurship. This is the fourth consecutive year that Texas A&M University has been included in the Princeton Review ranking. This year, Texas A&M was ranked #35 for Undergraduate students and #26 for Graduate students. The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship is responsible for providing a ranking application to Princeton Review each year.

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized