Bring on the Burritos..the Crossing Cafe is Now Open!

The Crossing Cafe - now open!

The Crossing Cafe – now open!

Students, faculty, and all of the ACU community, our wait is over. After pushing through long and dreadful coffeeless mornings, sitting through classes with no breakfast burritos to satisfy our grumbling stomachs, and sitting uncomfortably on the hard floors in the hallways trying to cram before those killer tests, the time has come. COBA is proud to announce the new and improved Crossing Cafe! The cafe opened this past Monday and offers an assortment of yummy snacks and breakfast items, including kolaches, donuts, breakfst burritos, coffee, tea, and a variety of other treats. The Crossing Cafe is a completely student-operated business run by Wildcat Venture students Allie Rostron, Casey Duncum, and Brandon Avedikian.

Allie Rostron, CEO of the cafe, says, “I am extremely happy with the renovations. Menus can always be changed, but our goal was to create a unique and inviting environment for the students.”

cafe traffic

Casey Duncum, senior management major, is also pleased with the new cafe. Casey has an innovative vision for the cafe, seeking ways to truly add to the unique COBA experience. The cafe also features student artwork from the student-founded organization Emineo. This adds a different touch to the cafe, creating a modern and trendy environment. In addition to the new atmosphere inside the cafe, Casey is hoping to eventually add furniture and live events on the back patio.

Casey says,”This summer was hard trying to make everything come together, but after seeing the cafe open, it was worth the hours of work and preparation.” 

cafe furniture

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead. Indulge in that hot, mouth-watering breakfast burrito and reward your taste buds for those treacherous mornings you had to function without coffee. Stop by the new and improved Crossings Cafe located on the first floor of COBA!

Wildcat Ventures Provides Students With Small Business Experience

COBA does a lot of things well, but one of the things we do best is providing students with hands on, real world experience. A great example of this can be seen in one of our student organizations, Wildcat Ventures. Created in July of 2012, Wildcat Ventures is a series of “on-campus, student-run enterprises,” as described by President Hannah Ostertag.

hannah

Hannah Ostertag

Because Wildcat Ventures is a relatively new organization, Hannah has been involved in its development as well as its day-to-day operations. As a result, she believes deeply in the organization’s purpose and vision.

“The vision for this program is to create a series of businesses that are student-run and operated, providing an experiential learning environment for students to apply concepts learned throughout their coursework,” explains Hannah. “Students in this program gain practical leadership development and business acumen through the planning, implementation, and development of student businesses on campus.”

By the Fall 2013 semester, Wildcat Ventures will have launched four different enterprises: Connections Café, a t-shirt business, a phone-electronics repair business, and a sales and distribution business.

As president, Hannah has learned more than she ever could have imagined, including the fact that surrounding yourself with talented individuals whose skills complement your own makes any task easier.

“Working at Wildcat Ventures really gave me a glimpse of what it takes to start a business,” she elaborates. “You will have to work hard, extremely hard. You will have to live and breathe your business at times because if you don’t, the tasks that need to get completed won’t get done. There will be days when the challenges and barriers to your business seem overwhelming. But when you are reminded of your vision for the project, solutions to those problems can be found and those barriers can be overcome with enough perseverance.”

Thanks to Dr. Litton, Hannah, and the rest of the leadership at Wildcat Ventures for providing this incredible opportunity.

Be sure to get involved with Wildcat Ventures and support their businesses here on campus!

Chad Hutchins Named as New Entrepreneur-in-Residence

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.

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

“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

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!

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Darbie Angell, Founder and CEO of CRU Dinnerware

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!

It’s that time of the year, the one where 35,000 events occur in 125 countries, all in the name of entrepreneurship. It’s beautiful, because it’s the chance to acknowledge that it’s hard to generate and implement new ideas, but that it’s also worth the trouble, because innovation is what makes our world go round.

Here at ACU’s College of Business, we try to embrace the spark of innovation as much as possible, which is why we’re celebrating entrepreneurship through several different events:

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13: ENTREPRENEUR SPEAKER SERIES

April Anthony, Founder and CEO of Encompass Home Health

Darbie Angell, Founder and CEO of CRU Dinnerware, will be speaking from 11:00-11:30 at the Hunter Welcome Center (LYNAY room), and April Anthony, Founder and CEO of Encompass Home Health will be speaking from 11:45-1:00, also at the Hunter Welcome Center.

Both of these women exemplify what it means to be successful entrepreneurs. They serve as mentors and examples to our students, especially to our future female entrepreneurs. We are incredibly thankful to have them with us to kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15: SPRINGBOARD ELEVATOR PITCH COMPETITION (FINAL ROUND AND AWARDS)

Budding entrepreneurs have learned to pitch a new product, service, or business concept in two minutes or less in a competition to win $1500. The first round of the Elevator Pitch Competition took place last Saturday, November 6. Everyone is invited to watch the final round of the competition this Thursday at 11:00.  Click here to register.

START THINKING ABOUT THE SPRINGBOARD IDEAS CHALLENGE…

Do you have a great idea? If so, you should participate in our Springboard Ideas Challenge! Each team or individual submits a mini-business plan and then, if chosen as a finalist, is given the opportunity to present its idea to a live panel of judges.  Last year’s student category winner won $10,000 for his idea and the winner from the community category won $20,000! Click here to learn more about the Springboard Ideas Challenge.

Stay tuned for more information on this great opportunity!

A big thanks goes out to the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy for all of their hard work in creating opportunities that foster entrepreneurship within this community.