CEO National Conference: Best Overall Chapter in the Nation

by   |  11.09.15  |  Uncategorized

NW Mutual Best Overall Chapter

Our chapter of Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization brought home first place in two categories at the CEO National Conference in Kansas City this weekend.

ACU won both best overall chapter in the nation and best chapter business with Wildcat Ventures.

We competed against over 250 chapters from across the country, beating schools like Texas Tech, TCU, Texas State, and Texas A&M. We are so proud of both of these organizations and the students who have contributed to their success. CEO has been working since last year towards this title as we’ve expanded events, membership, and impact on campus.

“I’m proud to have represented ACU and given back to the university in this small way,” said Rudy Garza, president of CEO. “We work tirelessly to build a culture of entrepreneurial thinking on campus, and this award affirms that we’re excelling at offering innovative and exciting programs.”

We’ve got plenty of momentum from the conference propelling us into next week’s Startup Week and we’re looking forward to hosting over 100 events. Entrepreneurs from all over the country will join us on campus to celebrate entrepreneurship on campus. We can’t wait!

In the meantime, check out our video presented at the conference.



Fall Break in Silicon Valley

by   |  10.29.15  |  Uncategorized


Last week, 14 students traveled to San Francisco and spent fall break visiting a variety of businesses in the Bay Area. We had a great trip checking out companies like Google, LinkedIn and Airbnb, and some of our students even made it to a Stanford football game.

Check out this story from The Optimist to see what a few students had to say!


Coming Soon: ACU Startup Week

by   |  10.14.15  |  Uncategorized

The Griggs Center is one month away from its biggest event of the semester and we’re already excited. Mark your calendars for ACU Startup Week from November 16-20.

Now in its second year, ACU Startup Week has expanded to connect, inspire, and equip students and the far-reaching ACU community to be entrepreneurs throughout the world.

This week is held in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week. We want to put our work as entrepreneurs in the global context and connect to a greater community outside of Abilene. So, we’ve invited ACU alumni and friends who have been successful as entrepreneurs to interact with our students on campus.

As this exciting week gets closer, we are ready to inspire our innovative students and connect them to this network of entrepreneurs.

Did you know ACU Startup Week is the biggest event of its kind in the whole country?

We will have more than 100 events all over campus throughout the week, including our Springboard Elevator Pitch finals, a networking dinner, and various classes and workshops. Our events will cover a wide range of topics and we want you to be involved! You don’t have to be a business major to be a part of Startup Week. Check our schedule of events to see what all you could attend.

We look forward to celebrate and spread entrepreneurship all across ACU’s campus!

Spring Break in Central America

by   |  10.08.15  |  Uncategorized

Join the Griggs Center for spring break in Central America and see entrepreneurship in a new way. Students will work with Mission Lazarus in Honduras, a social and missional organization founded by Jarrod Brown (’00). Mission Lazarus is a non-profit organization focused on planting and growing churches in third-world nations through educational, medical, agricultural, and spiritual outreaches offered unconditionally to the communities in which it works.

Mission Lazarus utilizes a holistic and integrated approach to poverty alleviation and community development. Students will put skills and knowledge to work while becoming immersed inside a social venture and have direct access to its founding social entrepreneur.

During our trip, we’ll be staying at the mission, building a new medical clinic, and interacting with the Mission Lazarus team.

We’re looking for 20 students to join us for the trip March 11-18. The week will cost $1600 including airfare, but don’t let the price be something that keeps you from applying! There will be plenty of opportunities for fundraising.

Students of all majors are invited to apply for this awesome week of service so email if you are interested in learning more!

CEO National Conference

by   |  09.29.15  |  Uncategorized

Our chapter of Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization is headed to Kansas City, Missouri for the CEO National Conference November 5-7.

At last year’s conference, ACU came in second place for top CEO chapter in the nation so we are hoping for similar (or better) standings this time around. We’ll find out in the next few weeks if we are finalists for top chapter again.

Over the last two years, CEO’s membership has gone from around 30 members to over 250 members. With our growing events like Startup Week and Springboard, we’ve added to our ability to compete at a national level. We want students to have opportunities to network and be inspired by other student entrepreneurs around the country, and the conference is a great place for that.

If you’re a member of CEO and are interested attending this year’s conference, email for more information!

CEO Chapel Series: Aaron Watson

by   |  09.22.15  |  Uncategorized

Aaron Watson, ACU alum and chart-topping country artist, joined us last week to kick off this year’s CEO Chapel series. We had nearly 300 students in attendance, making it the highest-attended CEO Chapel ever! But in case you missed it or were stuck in the hallway unable hear our friend Aaron, here’s a quick recap of his thoughts on faith, family and the music industry.

Aaron Watson shares his story of faith, family and the music industry at CEO Chapel

Aaron Watson shares his story of faith, family and the music industry at CEO Chapel

“Believe it or not, ACU prepared me for what I needed to enter the Honky Tonk music world.”

One of the main things Aaron mentioned several times was the value of hard work. He didn’t become the number one artist in country music overnight, but started working two jobs during college to fund his musical dreams. Aaron took guitar lessons all while working at Perini Ranch waiting tables and at ACU planting crepe myrtle trees on campus. He sold his first CD out of his backpack and before long he began playing shows around Abilene, but soon saw the need for focus on a broader audience.

“I owned Abilene, I was like Elvis here,” Watson said. “But I started thinking – We’ve got to get out of Taylor County.”

Watson realized that to be more aggressive in the Texas Country scene, he’d have to step up the business side of things. The work was hard and frustrating at times in the beginning. Aaron recalled one of the more difficult moments in his career when he played a show in Midland that only 40 people attended.

“It was frustrating, and no one showed up,” he said. “That is a pride swallowing thing –when you have passion in something that you believe in but nobody else does. And that’s something you’re going to run in to as an entrepreneur. You’re going to have a passion, you’re going to have a product and it’s not going to take off immediately, if it does you’re really lucky.”

Watson took a month off from performing after getting married and when he returned, he had a hit song and sold-out shows all over Texas. Nashville record labels began reaching out to Aaron, but even after meetings, he decided to remain an independent artist.

Aaron released his twelfth album in February, which debuted on Country Music Billboard as the number one record, making him the first independent artist ever to have number one record on Country Billboard.

“I always tell people that I’m not up and coming. I’m slow and steady. And that’s how you should think about all of your businesses,” Aaron said.

As Aaron continues to grow his brand, he left us with some great bits of advice.

I put my faith and my love for Jesus out there in front right off the bat.
The resource or app that I use the most is
Treat everyone with respect, whether they are custodian or CEO.
There’s nothing you should be ashamed of about hard work.
Your faith better always be applicable to your business, because how can it not be.
And finally, It’s easy to be a Christian when you’re on the hill at ACU. But you’ve got to get out there and say what needs to be said. If you live the life that Jesus wants you to live, it’s only going to help your business.

CEO is Back!

by   |  09.08.15  |  Entrepreneur Speaker Series

It’s great to be back on campus. The past year was crucial to ACU CEO’s development. We grew from 30 members to over 250, hosted a variety of successful networking events, sent students to serve in Honduras, and raised money for student scholarships by hosting the Jinkerson Scramble golf tournament. All of those successes led to our 2nd place victory at the CEO National Conference.

That being said, we wouldn’t be entrepreneurial if we were not thinking tirelessly of ways to improve CEO. We’re fixing the things that didn’t work so well, and reinforcing the things that did. Last semester, we brought the Toasted Traveler to campus for students to enjoy after CEO Chapel. Since it was such a hit, we’ve decided to invite local food trucks to join us after every CEO Chapel. We hope that this reflects our support for local entrepreneurs, as well as our commitment to leveraging business to improve the ACU student experience.

We hope to grow our member base through more effective marketing and communication of our offerings. We’re working hard at expanding our own network of industry friends and potential speakers as well. Most importantly, we’re meditating heavily on the faith-component of our program and how we can best involve Christ in our work. We hope to be more transparent with our guests and facilitate deeper conversations. We’re working on more service projects for students to get involved with and give back through.

Serving as President of CEO has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It greatly reduces the amount of sleep I get while simultaneously increasing the amount of things I learn at ACU. It’s going to be another great year of growth, and I hope the other chapters know that ACU is coming for the top spot at the national conference. I look forward to seeing familiar faces at our events and meeting plenty of new ones. Please don’t hesitate to say hello!

Thanks & Scratch ‘Em,
Rudy Garza

ACU Entrepreneurship Club Ranked #2 in Nation!

by   |  11.03.14  |  Uncategorized

ACU’s chapter of Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, or CEO, was recognized as one of the top chapters at the organization’s national conference this past weekend. ACU’s CEO Club is sponsored by the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy. The club’s focus is to inspire, connect, and support students to think like entrepreneurs and network with like-minded students. The student club has over 200 active members and has had approximately 10% of all ACU undergraduate students participate in at least one of its meetings or workshops this fall.

ACU’s chapter was selected as one of three finalists from over 200 schools earlier in October along with chapters from Texas A&M University and the eventual winner, Bryant University.

Rudy Garza, junior Marketing major and President of ACU CEO, represented the club in the final round of the competition. “Representing ACU at the CEO National Conference was an honor. Meeting fellow chapters reminded me that the effort to spread the entrepreneurial spirit on our campus is an effort shared by so many incredible young people at schools across the country. They were sharp, confident, and energetic – and I’m proud to say that ACU was among the best of them.”


“The student leaders have done an amazing job. The success of the group is a testament to their hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit of ACU’s student body. ACU CEO provides a great experience and learning opportunity for all ACU students,” said Dr. Jim Litton, Director of the Griggs Center and faculty sponsor of ACU CEO.

Learn more about ACU CEO and become a prospective member today.


Shannon Wilburn, co-founder and CEO of Just Between Friends (JBF)

by   |  09.29.14  |  Uncategorized

Last week Shannon Wilburn, co-founder and CEO of Just Between Friends (JBF), visited campus as part of the Griggs Center’s Entrepreneur Speaker Series. Shannon, a former Wildcat, founded JBF in 1997 with a friend after they decided to host a consignment event with 17 of their friends. Since that time, Shannon has led JBF to become a national children’s and maternity consignment franchise that has received a number of awards and national recognition.

At CEO Chapel, Shannon shared her story of how she started the company as well as successes and failures along the way. She also shared insights into what is going on today with the company.

“It was great for Ms. Wilburn to be so candid with us about current opportunities and challenges her company is facing,” said Jason McVey, senior Management Major from Austin, Texas.

Shannon also visited with the Griggs Center’s fellows program and an entrepreneurship class as well.

JBF’s accolades in the past couple of years include being named to Inc.magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies,Entrepreneur magazine’s Top 500 Franchises, receiving one of only 75 Blue Ribbon Awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and being featured in Kiplinger magazine as “One of 8 Franchises Worth Buying.”



Chris Coggin

by   |  09.23.14  |  Uncategorized

Last week, the Griggs Center hosted Chris Coggin (’07) on-campus as part of its Entrepreneur Speaker Series. Coggin currently serves as Vice President of Thelese Management, an investment firm based in Austin. In addition to this role, Coggin also serves as an instructor at the Acton School of Business. Acton offers an MBA focused on entrepreneurship and has received national recognition in various rankings for its program and classroom experience.

During chapel Coggin shared a number of stories with the students, highlighting some of his greatest successes and failures while in business. His words of advice for ACU students focused on putting yourself out there and becoming involved.

Coggin remembered some of the best advice he ever received while at ACU. He recalled a lesson Dr. Monty Lynn gave him, saying the key to business was to “do what you say you’re going to do.” He continued that doing so “separates you because there are so many people out there that don’t do what they say they’re going to do.”

Coggin currently lives with his wife Elena in Austin with their two sons.