Students Experience City Square

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During January, several COBA students as well as non-business majors took a January short course, Social Entrepreneurship, with Dr. Laura Phillips at City Square in Dallas. In the fall of 2012, ACU began to partner with City Square, combining curricular and co-curricular experiences for student leadership development. CitySquare is a faith-based, non-profit, human and community development corporation that promotes learning and formation through engagement, including projects, courses, internships, formative experiences, and degree programs. Courses at City Square offer opportunities for in-context learning, allowing students to be hands-on outside of the traditional classroom.

During the short course, 18 guests came to speak with students about social organizations and the different pieces that make up these organizations. The class offered a series of breakfast lectures where speakers discussed vital parts of nonprofit businesses that must be considered when working for or starting any nonprofit. Guests speakers, including Suzanne Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Social Impacts Architects and Co-Founder of Flywheel: Social Enterprise Hub, spoke about measuring success from a social perspective. Mark Jacobs, Senior Director of Operations for The Medicines Company, started His Chase Foundation in 2010 and is now focusing all efforts in Rwanda, providing 250+ students with educational opportunities. Mark gave students opportunities to engage and brainstorm ideas for his initiatives in Rwanda. Speakers also addressed questions concerning other aspects of a non-profit organization such as raising funds, the grant application process, how to start a board of members, social media, and the basic business principles included in a financial statement.

The majority of the class was comprised of business majors but all students found the information very useful even if they had no intention of starting an enterprise. Shanleigh Clinton, a nutrition major, says that she was worried the material would not be applicable to her. However, she says, “This class actually helped me understand how to balance mission and margin and how to have a greater impact in what I do.” Shanleigh plans on becoming a registered dietician, partnering with a feeding and nutrition education program and potentially working with a social enterprise.

Chase jon shan al pres 1   Fundraising breakfast 2

Al Shanleigh

 

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!

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!

April Anthony Shares Her Company’s Unique Focus

This past Tuesday, The Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy joined in Global Entrepreneurship Week by hosting a luncheon featuring guest speaker April Anthony, CEO of Encompass Home Health and Homecare Homebase.

April, who graduated from ACU in 1989, spent three years as an auditor and CPA with PwC immediately following graduation. However, through an unusual set of circumstances, she ended up owning a small home health care company that she has now grown into a successful company with offices and branch locations in 7 states.

April Anthony sharing a meal with Dr. Schubert and Guests

Throughout this unique journey, April has learned a lot about what it means to be a Christian in all aspects of life. In fact, as she shared in Tuesday’s Q&A-style presentation, she feels that her work is a calling, something that motivates her daily to work hard for what she feels is the central focus of Encompass Home Health.

Like many others, April initially assumed that the focus of her company would be on the patients her company served. However, as she shadowed various employees, she began noticing something even more pressing than the patients.

“I saw employees, who, frankly, had been kind of beat down, who had felt like in the hospital systems and the other health care environments, that they weren’t the most important asset,” explained April. “But pretty quickly, to me, it seemed like they were the only asset. As a matter of fact, they were our product.”

From this launch pad, April began to realign her priorities with a new focus: her employees. In fact, as a CEO, she began to shape her company under the influence of this new perspective. “To me, to say that the patients were first seemed like the wrong answer,” expounded April. “Really, the employees had to be first. They were our product; we had to invest in them, and if we did so, I didn’t really have to talk a lot about patient care. They would just go out and do it.”

April has allowed this principle to completely saturate her company, starting with its mission statement.

April Anthony Talking with Dr. Jim Litton at Tuesday's Luncheon

“In 2006 we embraced the statement, ‘A better way to care,’” explained April. “It’s simple, but…‘a better way to care’ is not some phrase that we put at the bottom of our email…its’ a behavior, it’s an action, it’s the way we act every day…”

April went on to explain that the beauty of this simple, five-word statement is that it’s not an elusive concept; instead it’s a mantra that can be embraced by individuals, rather than just by a corporation. As a result, every member of Encompass Health Care is able to remain focused on a common goal.

April’s focus on employees hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, just this year the company was voted the #3 best employer of its size in Houston, as well as the #4 best place to work in all of Austin, and the #5 best place to work in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

In an article covering the awards, one of Encompass’s employees said, “We have a mission of ‘a better way to care,’ and every day I go out committed to finding the way that I’m going to fulfill my mission, and I know that my company is going to back me up.”

In addition to motivating its employees on a daily basis, Encompass has also been able to play large roles in its employees’ lives. A couple of examples of this are the way the company’s foundation, Encompass Cares, is able to fund employees’ medical mission trips and local service efforts in addition to reaching out to employees who are struggling. In one instance recently, the foundation was able to provide clothing and other resources to an employee whose home was lost in a fire.

Through all of this, April has kept faith at the center of Encompass’s work, not in a pushy way, but in a consistent way that has made it clear to everyone who is a part of it that this company is different.

April believes that it all comes down to her original principle of caring for employees.

“It’s pretty exciting to think about motivating people and the way you can make them feel just by appreciating them, by recognizing them, by giving them a mission that matters,” she confirmed. “Those are the things that make people feel like this is the best company they’ve ever worked for.”