Archive for February, 2013

Chad Hutchins Named as New Entrepreneur-in-Residence

by   |  02.28.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Entrepreneurship

COBA is full of students with fantastic entrepreneurial ideas. However, many of these students don’t know how to develop these innovative concepts. One great way for students to engage in entrepreneurial training is by working with our new Entrepreneur in Residence, Chad Hutchins.

Chad Hutchins, Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Chad, a 2008 graduate who studied computer science with a focus in business, has always had an affinity for entrepreneurship. Chad explains,

“Since grade school, there’s always been some project on the side I worked on that I considered my ‘business’ at the time, which varied from mowing yards to making websites. “

While here at ACU, Chad, along with three other students, created Sheepdog, a service that assisted companies in identifying the social networks that their customers were using. While Sheepdog wasn’t a big money maker, it provided Hutchins with valuable learning experience from the time he came up with the idea in 2008 until 2010 when he and his friends sold the intellectual property to another startup.

Since Sheepdog, Chad has been involved in two additional startups, the most recent of which is called SugarOutfitters.

“It’s an app store for SugarCRM, a popular CRM solution,” explains Chad. “We spent nine months building the company and website, which we launched in September. Since then, sales have been going up every month.”

After successfully starting three different companies, Chad has learned a few things, one of which is the importance of having a solid business plan.

“Building whatever it is you want to sell is the easy part,” he elaborates. “It’s the marketing and distribution that will make or break you. So having a laser-focused target market and a strong plan for reaching that market is extremely important.”

In his new role as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Chad will be in his office in the eHub every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. During these times, he will be able to meet with students in order to help them achieve the same entrepreneurial success he has enjoyed.

Chad is excited about this opportunity, because he can easily identify with the students with whom he will be working.

“Having been in their exact shoes, the thing that excites me most is being able to help provide the things I wished were available to me as I tried to build my own businesses while at ACU,” says Chad. “The college experience is such a unique time in a person’s life, a time that you don’t get back. I believe trying to build a business during that time is the best time to do so.”

Be sure to check out Chad’s latest startup, SugarOutfitters, by clicking here, and don’t hesitate to email him at hutchins.chad@gmail.com.

COBA’s Master of Accountancy Program Receives Accolade

by   |  02.27.13  |  Accounting, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty

The College of Business at ACU’s Master of Accountancy Program (MACC) was recently named one of the top 10 schools in the state of Texas for having one of the highest CPA Exam pass rates in Texas. The report was published  by the Texas Society of CPAs (Today’s CPA, January/February 2013). The list includes 5 public and 5 private universities. You can read more about this honor by clicking on this link for ACU’s blog post. To learn more about the MACC program, click here. Congratulations to our Accounting graduates and faculty!

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Mayfield, of Wednesday Custom Design

by   |  02.18.13  |  COBA Alumni, Careers In..., Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center

“Hi, we’re Wednesday, a boutique paperworks company from Oklahoma City, OK. We’re a creative collaboration between two complete opposites who happen to like great design and each other, a lot. We invest the best of both of us in our work to create an evocative aesthetic. We compile the delicate and bold, intricate and eccentric, and the playful and thoughtful into our designs to curate Wednesday’s unique style and personality. We get excited about paperworks, because some of our most cherished memories have been initiated by an invitation or punctuated with a hand written thanks.”

Any company comprised of two ACU alumni that has an “About Me” page like this one promises to have a story to tell, which is why it was so exciting to have Jessica and Garett Mayfield speak here on campus last week.

Garett and Jessica Mayfield

Their story started here at ACU, where they met. Following their graduation in 2009, the two moved to Florida to pursue Jessica’s job in corporate marketing. At this point, Garett was doing freelance design, but the two decided that they wanted to pursue something more creative.

At the request of a friend, Garett and Jessica decided to branch out and get into some branding work. This experience, while challenging, proved to be incredibly beneficial as the two taught themselves how to budget, create deadlines, interact with a client, and eventually come out with a good product.

Just one of Wednesday's fabulous designs

In spite of some initial struggle, the Mayfields launched Wednesday and watched it take off. Speaking out of both their struggles and successes, Garett and Jessica had a few key points to communicate to our group:

  • Tell your story; it belongs to no one but you.
  • “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman
  • An honest brand is the best brand.
  • Authenticity attracts others, while fakeness often repels them.
  • Don’t compare yourself.
  • Create your own definition of success.

Throughout all of this advice was woven the central message that doing what you love and bringing glory to God is worth far more than any monetary gain. In addition, at the heart of Wednesday lies the Mayfields’ belief that people are worthy of grace and respect and that customers should always be valued. Garett and Jessica believe that relationships have power, and as a result they use their business to build relationships that have value beyond that the workplace.

As the Mayfields pointed out in their closing thoughts,

“Passion for what you are working on keeps you motivated.”

Don’t be afraid to figure out what that passion is and pursue it.

For more on Wednesday, check out their website!

Behind the Scenes at the Connections Cafe

by   |  02.15.13  |  Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center

Most COBA students with an 8:00 class have experienced the tantalizing smell of a La Popular breakfast burrito being eaten by one of their classmates. This delicacy, which is often called “the best breakfast burrito in Abilene,” is often paired with Mission Lazarus coffee. This delicious brew is made from beans grown at a plantation in Honduras that provides its farmers with fair wages.

The Cafe proudly serves Mission Lazarus coffee

You may be thinking to yourself, “What wonderful institution provides this stellar breakfast combination?”

The answer is The Connections Café.

The Connections Café is a unique entity that is run by students interested in entrepreneurship here in COBA. This organization’s main purpose is to provide students with real life experience running small businesses. The thought process behind this institution is that students should learn about taking risks and making mistakes now, before their own money is on the line.

Mychal Ricks, a sophomore management major, was hired as the Café’s manager back in November. She said that during her time at the Café, her biggest challenge has been connecting with customers.

“I think the biggest challenge is knowing what our customers want,” explained Mychal. “Technically we’ll never really understand what our customer wants…and so that’s a really big challenge.”

Because the Café has only been student-run for a short period of time, Mychal and her co-workers are looking into different ways to attract customers. One option is adding new products, such as cereal, to their selection. In order to aid them in their decision-making process, the Café has enlisted the help of a student marketing research group here on campus. The research conducted by this team over the following semester will help Mychal and her team as they make advertising and purchasing decisions.

Mychal Ricks

Mychal wants to go into management after she graduates, although not necessarily in the food industry. She said that running the Café has made her more interested in pursuing a career in management, because it’s helped her to learn the ropes of management.

One of the biggest of these lessons has to do with interpersonal dynamics.

 “I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned is how to work with people,” explained Mychal. “[I’ve learned] how to separate my personal life from my business life and when to overlap them sometimes, because I can’t just be the boss around everyone. I have to somewhat get on a personal level with everyone.”

Be sure to stop by the Connections Café whenever you’re in COBA!

Alumnus Spotlight: Kelsey Davis

by   |  02.11.13  |  COBA Alumni, Careers In..., Current Students, Internships

There are many factors that go into determining the quality of a job. These components include: the company’s culture, how well you work with your co-workers, and whether or not you enjoy the work itself.

Kelsey Davis, a 2012 graduate who studied Management, has found an ideal blend of these three components at her job as Assistant to the CEO of CRU International. CRU International, a dinnerware company, designs fine china and drink ware that is sold in stores like Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Dillard’s.

Kelsey (holding the black and white dishes) with her CRU Co-Workers

CRU International, which was founded by ACU alum Darbie Angell, has a unique culture that allows Kelsey to integrate her faith and her work. Interestingly enough, CRU is dedicated to incorporating social responsibility into their business model. In fact, CRU is perpetually partnering with various social ventures, some of which have included donating coffee presses to developing countries and partnering with St. Jude’s Hospital.

Another reason Kelsey loves her job is that she’s found it to be an incredible community that constantly spurs her on to be a better worker and a better person of faith. She describes this experience by saying, “I am humbled to work for a company where all the co-workers continually encourage each other and work so well together as a team.”

Kelsey is not only able to work with people she loves; she is also able to fill a wide variety of functions in the company. “Fortunately my job role changes on a day-to-day basis,” explains Kelsey. “I am privileged to do everything from handling our shipping logistics to helping create a strong brand for CRU.”

So how do graduates smoothly transition straight from the world of academia to the world of industry?

Kelsey landed her job with CRU International as a result of an internship she had the summer before her senior year. Because CRU International is a relatively new company, Kelsey has been fortunate enough to witness a lot of exciting growth during the time that she has interned and worked for the organization.

Kelsey Davis, of CRU Dinnerware

One example of this success is the company’s recent partnership with Disney.

“Disney actually reached out to Darbie [CEO of CRU International] and asked her to design their first ever Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Dinnerware line,” explains Kelsey. “Never in a million years would we have thought Disney would contact us to co-brand with them.”

As if her job didn’t sound good enough already, what Kelsey really loves is the way in which she can see God through it. “Honestly, seeing how God can use imperfect people to create something much bigger than themselves is unbelievably rewarding,” says Kelsey. “I find so much passion in helping market products that I know will help bring others relief and joy around the world.”

Like many COBA graduates, Kelsey believes she can attribute much of her success in the workforce to COBA and its outstanding faculty. Kelsey elaborates, saying,

“Not only did COBA provide a solid educational foundation, but the professors made it evident that if we dreamed big, we could accomplish anything that God called us to do.”

Where will God’s call lead you?

Leadership Summit: Day 5

by   |  02.07.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit

The fifth and final day of Leadership Summit was fairly low key as we all began to pack our bags and think about heading home.

In between taking pictures of the mountains, we got to listen to John Aden, Executive Vice President of General Merchandise for Wal-Mart, talk about his faith journey and what it looks like to live out that faith in the marketplace.

John Aden, Executive Vice President of General Merchandise, Wal-Mart, Inc.

Mr. Aden believes that it is only through a relationship with Christ that we can make a difference in our workplaces, a fact that he summarized by saying,

“We have to get close to Christ so we can see what He’s doing in the workplace.”

Mr. Aden went on to explain that bold living is a necessary part of making a difference in the market place, and he offered us some profound advice on how to achieve world-changing boldness.

Four Suggestions for Living Boldly:

  1. Remain in relationship with God
  2. Remember God’s presence and promises
  3. Encourage each other by being in deep relationships
  4. Step out in faith—boldly

Mr. Aden followed this inspiring discussion by inviting us all to write down a burden we were carrying and to throw it in the trash as a symbol of what we were leaving on the mountain.

This exercise was moving, because it allowed everyone who participated in Summit to go through the physical act of giving a specific burden over to God.  After five days of listening, it seemed fitting to end our time together by doing something so symbolic.

Praying over Summit Speakers

All in all, Leadership Summit was an incredibly transformative experience, and I would recommend it to all ACU students, regardless of their major.

Thank you to everyone who put in the time and effort to make this week possible!

Leadership Summit: Day 4

by   |  02.04.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit

The fourth day of Summit was my favorite. In addition to a lesson on leadership taught by Tim Johnston, we got to hear messages from Mike Haley, formerly of Focus on the Family, and Stephen Quinn, Chief Marketing Officer of Wal-Mart.

Mike Haley

Both of these men told incredible stories about the hard times they’ve been through and the way that God has sustained them throughout those times.

Of all the speakers we heard throughout the week, I found Mr. Quinn’s to be the most moving, in part because the night before his presentation, my friends and I had the opportunity to eat dinner with him and his wife, Linda.  Throughout the meal, the Quinns told us about their hobbies and their families, a conversation that I can’t imagine having with a senior level executive anywhere else.

Stephen Quinn, CMO of Wal-mart

Last year Mr. Quinn was named the top marketer in the world, and while he told us about some of his work as a marketer at various companies, his emphasis was on something different: Jesus.

Mr. Quinn truly believes that God has called him to serve others in the marketplace. As a result of this conviction, he allows God to open his eyes to individuals in his workplace who are suffering. As a result of this awareness, Mr. Quinn has been able to introduce many of his employees to Jesus.

Mr. Quinn summed this up perfectly when he said,

“You will never walk in perfect love until you invest in people.”

Are you investing in those around you?