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

Put the phone down, earn prizes.

That’s the premise of SAFE 2 SAVE, a mobile app that rewards users for staying off their phones while driving. Since its launch in Fall 2016, it has grown to attract more than 70,000 users. And its founder Mays former student Marci Corry ’01 is continually working to improve it and increase its reach.

While having a conversation with a Texas A&M University student, Corry noticed everyone around them was on their phone. “As I reflected on that and the dangers of texting, especially while driving, it hit me that I should start a positive app that targets adults as well as teens that would encourage people to be hands-free,” said Corry.

The tipping point came when she heard the news of a 19-year-old student who lost his life after he was struck by a driver who was texting. “That’s when I knew I needed to start this company to help grow the awareness and prevent distracted driving as much as we could in Aggieland,” said Corry.

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Startup Aggieland, Students, 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

App acts as social media address book

Mays Business School’s focus on the entrepreneurial mindset is personified in the success of Mays marketing senior Dylan Secrest ’17, the CEO and creator of SyncLink.

Dylan SecrestSyncLink is a new iPhone application that allows users to consolidate friends on all social media platforms, as well as store other forms of contact information, in one place. His vision was to “simplify the way the world connects, and essentially create a social media address book.”

Once a user has downloaded the app and created an account, he can sync social media profiles onto the SyncLink account and share it with the world. From there, the user can connect with other SyncLink users on social media with the click of a button.

Secrest has released the app locally, and has garnered more than 400 users and plans to expand further. He and his business partners – Noah Kaplan of Cornell University and Jay Dickey ’17, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in political science and is now a prospective law student – recently joined Startup Aggieland, a business incubator on campus. They are working with several entrepreneurs-in-residence and software mentors, and have applied to MassChallenge Texas.

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School reflects the values of excellence revered by its namesake – Artie McFerrin, a long-time supporter of Texas A&M University and the name behind the $10 million gift that secured the center’s future.

An intimate group that included Artie McFerrin’s wife Dorothy, their daughter Jennifer, and a gathering of family, friends and university leaders attended a recent reception to celebrate the official naming of the center. The event at the Founders Club at Kyle Field served as a tribute to Artie McFerrin, and a thank-you to his family, who have supported Texas A&M for years.

Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Jr. ’65 (2016 photo)

“If you strive for success, if you dream of venturing into the unknown and emerging smarter and stronger, if you want to grow yourself so you can grow others, you not only have a place to go, but also a name forever attached to it,” Tyson Voelkel, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, said at the event.

The center, which serves more than 3,000 students and more than 1,000 former students through 27 programs, is an international leader in entrepreneurial education. It aims to enhance entrepreneurial student education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and alumni. With the support of a volunteer network, corporate supporters, faculty, and staff, the McFerrin Center has been able to provide business start-up acceleration, competitive opportunities, work experiences, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community and across the world.

…Read more

Categories: Centers, Dean Eli Jones, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Programs, Selfless service, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M

Dayana Hansley ’18 had an eventful freshman year. She struggled in her engineering classes during the first semester. At the same time, the Abilene native and her team took first place in the 2014 Aggies Invent competition, a 48-hour engineering innovation competition.

The combination of these two occurrences altered Hansley’s trajectory in both college and in life. She changed her major in order to earn a university studies business degree with minors in leadership studies and communications. The winner of Aggies Invent also transferred to Mays Business School’s Startup Aggieland, where she gained guidance in entrepreneurism and the resources to figure out how to bring her team’s invention, the Motley Tool, to the marketplace.

Coming back to a childhood dream

Hansley’s interest in entrepreneurship started at an early age. “I’ve always dreamed of owning my own company,” she said. “Even as a child, I would make handmade cards to give to my parents and family members for holidays. I would always write ‘Dayana Inc.’ on the back, hoping that one day I would have my own company.”

That dream eventually faded away. “As I grew up, I didn’t think it was realistic and I put the idea of entrepreneurship to the side,” she said.

However, winning Aggies Invent put her back on the path that she dreamed about in her youth. “Startup Aggieland opened my eyes to entrepreneurism,” she said. “I learned that owning my own business is possible and it is not as crazy as people make it seem.”

Hansley quickly tapped into the business incubator’s mentoring and resources, including free legal assistance. In addition, she worked with Startup Aggieland’s staff to patent the Motley Tool.

She also found that Startup Aggieland offered a nurturing environment that helped her juggle the opportunities she was being offered while remaining focused on her classes and own self-care. “When they pull you in, they make sure you are taken care of,” said Hansley, who is president of Texas A&M’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. “They also make sure you are doing well in school because Startup Aggieland does realize that you’re here for school.” …Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

3 Day Startup event is a 72-hour, hands-on workshop experience for Texas A&M University students of all majors. Within this three-day period, students are coached, mentored and begin executing on the critical first steps necessary to make any business idea grow successfully. Beginning on Friday afternoon, students pitch their own business idea, and teams are formed around the ideas most highly-supported by the other student participants. Then these student teams will work day and night to prepare for their final pitches on Sunday in front of a “Pro Panel” of entrepreneurial experts who have launched successful businesses across a wide array of industries. The constructive criticism and advice provided by volunteer mentors and entrepreneurs throughout the weekend provide the students with a framework and path to work toward launching a new business.

…Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M

andrew-jarrettA startup that competed in the annual MBA Venture Challenge at Mays Business School in February was recently admitted to Startup Aggieland as a client company. It joined the campus-based accelerator program’s Lifestyle group, exclusive for early-stage ventures that generate revenue.

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ResponderX is a team of technical, non-technical and emergency service providers who are dedicated to engineering safety solutions for firefighters across the nation. Volunteer firefighter Andrew Jarrett formed the company team to promote the use of TaskForceTracker, his patent-pending technology consisting of small device attaches to the top of firefighter helmets and is able to provide critical information such as location and condition of the personnel on the scene.

He said he was inspired to create TaskForce technology to save lives after two local firemen lost their lives during a Feb. 2013 rescue at the Knights of Colombus hall. “Someone got lost in the fire and we had to go search for him,” Jarrett recalled. “When the dust settled, we realized that the guy they came to rescue was very close to an external door to the back building. That’s when it came to me that there is a better way to do this.”

ResponderX founders Jarrett and Jerry Lozano participated in the annual MBA Venture Challenge through Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in February 2016. Over an intensive two-week period, they worked with two Texas A&M MBA students whose task was to complete an in-depth analysis of the business and market segment of Jarrett’s startup company, ResponderX.

“Armed with the research provided to ResponderX by the MBA team, we were able to approach serious investors for the first time with a truly accurate depiction of our business valuation and well-documented market research,” said Jarrett.

The information helped Jarrett raise almost $200,000 in funding.

“The MBA Venture Challenge may have been one of the single most important things to happen to our startup in the past year,” Jarrett explained. “The research, projections, and recommendations provided to me by the student team we were partnered with were priceless, and we continue to use the materials they created to help us in our projections to this day.”

As a client company of Startup Aggieland, ResponderX has been assigned three mentors:

  • Startup Aggieland Entrepreneur-in-Residence Nathan Day, a retired founding CTO of SoftLayer and Texas A&M former student who lives near Austin;
  • Startup Aggieland Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brian Kralyevich, a VP UX for Amazon in Seattle and a Texas A&M former student;
  • Dave Manzer, an Aggie mentor for Startup Aggieland who owns Manzer Communications in Austin;
  • Shelly Brenckman, a student co-founder and marketing coordinator as well as manager of the CNVE Mentor Network and Startup Aggieland’s Dormcubator.
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Burnt gear from the firefighters who died in February 2013 is used to demonstrate how important safety is on the fireground.

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, MBA, News, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M

entrepTexas A&M University is on The Princeton Review’s 11th annual survey naming the 25 undergraduate and 25 graduate schools best for entrepreneurship studies for 2017, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine announced Wednesday. Texas A&M was 20th on the undergraduate list and 21st on the graduate list.

About 250 startups were launched by Texas A&M graduates in the last five years. Mays Business School is a leader in entrepreneurship on the Texas A&M campus, and has 900 students enrolled in entrepreneurship classes.

Entrepreneurial thinking aligns with Mays Business School’s vision to develop transformational leaders who possess the qualities of an entrepreneur: responsible leaders with vision and strong business competencies, exemplify selfless service and value diversity and inclusion.

…Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, MS Business, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) has recently been restructured. Don Lewis has been appointed as director of the Blackstone LaunchPad Initiative at Texas A&M University.

Chuck Hinton, who works with the NSF I-Corps program at Startup Aggieland, will assume many of the responsibilities of the assistant director of Startup Aggieland. He will also continue to serve the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Corps (I-Corps) program.

Earlier this year, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation expanded its campus entrepreneurship program to include Texas A&M University along with the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at Dallas. Established by the foundation’s three-year, $3 million grant, the partnership between the three institutions will introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and offer opportunities to the universities’ 130,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system. The CNVE was tasked with leading the initiative across campus.

The goals of the initiative are to identify 10 percent of the student body and engage them in a meaningful way in the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus, from one-on-one mentoring to entrepreneurial-oriented events and more.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Management, Mays Business, News, Staff, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M