ENT Buzz | Deana Steele


 

Deana Steele, Office Manager Department of Entrepreneurship

 

WHO IS DEANA STEELE?

I’m from Tomball, a small Texas town that my family helped found in the 1800s. I was raised in the oldest Lutheran church in Texas, Salem Lutheran Church. I’ve been married to my husband, JonL, for 30 years. We have one son, Dustin; a daughter-in-law, Danielle; and a grandson, Logan.


WHAT DO YOU DO AT BAYLOR?

I’ve been the Office Manager in the Entrepreneurship Department at Baylor for almost three years. I kind of think of myself as a Jack of all trades in the business school, and I love it.


WHAT’S SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT WORKING IN THE ENT DEPARTMENT?

I love working in the Entrepreneurship department! I am a people person and have had the privilege of meeting so many interesting people from all walks of life that visit Baylor.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BAYLOR TRADITION?

Although I am not a Baylor grad, I love all of the Baylor traditions. I especially love everything about the Baylor Line. I think it’s an awesome way for the University, upperclassmen and the entire Baylor family to welcome the new freshmen to Baylor.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW ENT MAJOR?

My advice for all students is to reach out to your professors! Each day, I see first-hand how much these professors enjoy and love their students.


For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.

 

ENT Buzz | Peter Klein


 

Peter Klein, Chairman Department of Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation

 

WHO IS PETER KLEIN?

I grew up in an academic household and always loved being around a university setting. My wife (who teaches Economics at Baylor) and I met at an academic conference so yes, we’re somewhat nerdy. We have three kids, one living in Dallas after graduating from Baylor last year, one about to start as a freshman at Baylor and one in middle school. I love to travel – my Mom is from Scotland and I spent summers there as a kid; at last count I have visited 39 countries!


WHAT DO YOU DO AT BAYLOR?

I came to Baylor in 2015 to join the faculty in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation and to work with the Baugh Center’s Free Enterprise Program. I love being a professor. I basically get paid to read, think, write and argue with people — most of which I’d do for free anyway! To research and teach is hard work but it’s also very rewarding. You really feel like you can make an influence on people’s lives.


WHAT’S SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT WORKING IN THE ENT DEPARTMENT?

I started at Baylor in Fall 2015, just as the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation opened. Everything was fresh and new. The hallways still had that “new building smell.” I was assigned an office right next to the Department Chair, but I wanted to be as far away from the boss as possible. Since everyone was moving into offices, it was easy for me to switch. Four years later and now I’m the Department Chair and everyone wants to get away from me! Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BAYLOR TRADITION?

It’s hard to pick one favorite, but I love Christmas at Baylor – the decorations, music, Christmas on 5th, everything. The flash mob Christmas carols in the Foster building are amazing.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW ENT MAJOR?

Get involved! Besides our classes and other “official” activities the Entrepreneurship department has so many extra, after-hours, fun and interesting things going on: outside speakers from industry, academia, and popular culture; our student incubator and new venture competition; the Baylor Angel Network; and so much more. Attend as many activities as you can, get to know our faculty and staff and your fellow students, and get involved in the Waco entrepreneurial ecosystem.


For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.

 

Jeremiah Allison, 2020 Outstanding Student in Entrepreneurship

 

You have to enjoy everything God has planned for you along your journey, and remember it’s not just about the final destination.

-Jeremiah Allison


Jeremiah Allison has a history of forging his own path. Taking the road less traveled, he was often met with twists and turns and even a few detours. So, how does this non-traditional student go from barely squeaking out a high school diploma to being recognized as the Hankamer School of Business 2020 Outstanding Student in Entrepreneurship?

Growing up, Jeremiah was surrounded by a spirit of entrepreneurship, even though he didn’t realize it at the time. Jeremiah’s dad was self-employed; his grandma operated her own music agency; one uncle made a living working in lawn-care and landscaping; another uncle ran a successful IT company. As Jeremiah puts it, “I can clearly see now that there is definitely some entrepreneurial DNA in me.”

Jeremiah graduated Round Rock High School in 2009 through a program called Success. On the verge of dropping out, the self-paced program allowed Jeremiah to take evening classes to fulfill his graduation requirements while working full time during the day.

Throughout his early adult years, the self described partier jumped around from job to job. Jeremiah explains that he was always a hard worker, but just lacked purpose. He was searching for a sort of inner peace to ground him.

By the time he was twenty-two, Jeremiah had several outstanding warrants for his arrest and had a suspended driver’s license. Low on money and out of options, Jeremiah and a friend hopped on a Greyhound bus for a one-way trip to California to work on a cannabis farm. In California Jeremiah was able to save enough cash so that he could return to Texas and settle his legal issues. This was a turning point for Jeremiah. Back in Texas, he got a full-time job, paid off his debts and even enrolled in a local community college. There was still something missing. Jeremiah lacked a vision. He was missing purpose.

During the fall of 2014 Jeremiah’s life veered in a completely new direction. He started going to church and even joined a life group. By November, Jeremiah gave his life to Jesus and felt a passion to be a man of God in the marketplace. Jeremiah found his purpose.

As Jeremiah wrapped up his course work at the local community college, his plan was to transfer to University of Houston to continue his studies, but a mentor planted the seed to pursue a degree at Baylor University. With prayer, scholarships and a few twists and turns, Jeremiah started class as a Baylor Bear in the fall of 2017.

Jeremiah had two options for his Baylor degree plan. He could select one major and graduate in two years, or a dual-major and graduate in two and a half to three years. Jeremiah chose a single Finance major. That was a solid plan until Entrepreneurship Professor Tyler Self told Jeremiah about an opportunity for entrepreneurship majors/minors to earn additional scholarship monies. Jeremiah felt God asking, who have I made you to be

With his entrepreneurial DNA becoming more apparent, Jeremiah changed directions to pursue a dual-major of Finance and Entrepreneurship. Jeremiah jumped in feet first in the Entrepreneurship department by serving on the Entrepreneurship Student Advisory board and also volunteering with departmental events such as the New Venture Competition and Texas Family Business Awards. 

Jeremiah was recognized as the 2020 Outstanding Student in Entrepreneurship during his final semester at Baylor. A semester full of promises of new beginnings, however, took a very odd turn when COVID-19 changed everything. There were no final handshakes or goodbyes and even graduation was postponed to a later date. But to Jeremiah, what really matters is that he found his calling and his passion. He found his purpose. Jeremiah sums up his experience, “You have to enjoy everything God has planned for you along your journey, and remember it’s not just about the final destination.”

After Jeremiah completes his coursework at Baylor, he and his wife will follow an entrepreneurial path to join his dad at Intralife in Houston, Texas. Jeremiah is excited to use his classwork experience in real-time situations. Ultimately, the duo feels a calling for long-term mission work overseas. But Jeremiah explains, “For now, we are going to enjoy our journey and everything that God has planned for us in Houston.”

Following a road less traveled, indeed. Sic ‘em!


For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.

 

ENT Buzz | Brooklyn Bolton


 

Brooklyn Bolton, Program Director Business & Innovation LLC

 

WHO IS BROOKLYN BOLTON?

I graduated from Baylor in 2015 with a BBA in Business Fellows, Math and Economics. Shortly after graduation I married my Line Camp crush, Aryn, and we moved abroad to work with college students in East Asia. It was such an amazing experience and I knew that God was calling me to work with college students on a professional level. I started my job at Baylor after we moved back to Waco. Aryn and I now have two cute kiddos. Eden is 2 and Judah will be 1 this month. They are the biggest (little) blessings and we are so grateful at how God has guided our journey.


WHAT DO YOU DO AT BAYLOR?

I oversee the Business & Innovation LLC. It’s basically my dream job. I get to work with entrepreneurially-minded, undergraduate students in the residence hall. I work directly with our student leaders to create programming that promotes student engagement outside of the classroom. Each year (who am I kidding, each day) looks a little bit different. We have dodgeball tournaments, Bible studies, golf lessons, guest speakers, pancake parties…you name it! My office is in the residence hall, right in the middle of student activity. I am an ambassador-of-sort for the Entrepreneurship department. I find joy in connecting our students to people and resources/programs that the Entrepreneurship department offers.


WHAT’S SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT WORKING IN THE ENT DEPARTMENT?

I love this department so much that it’s really hard to choose. If I had to pick one thing that stands out, I’m pretty sure it would be when we dared Gib Reynolds to do a backflip on one of our prospective student campus tours. He was in a suit!  In true entrepreneurial fashion, he did not back down from the challenge.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BAYLOR TRADITION?

Homecoming! Aryn and I got engaged at the Homecoming bonfire during our senior year. Now that we are local alumni, we host our college friends in our home during Homecoming. It’s always such a fun weekend.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW ENT MAJOR?

Live in the Business & Innovation LLC!  Am I allowed to say that if I run it? But seriously, the LLC offers so many resources and connections for our residents. Another great program that is open to non-LLC students is Oso Launch. We have some amazing faculty and staff that have created an awesome program for freshmen students to start and grow a successful venture.


For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.

 

Austin & Julia Meek, Pokey O’s

If you’re not putting in the work,
there’s just no way you’re going to achieve the results you want.

-Austin Meek


Austin and Julia Meek aren’t your typical “business-type” business owners. Neither of them grew up with entrepreneurial aspirations, but everything they did prepared them for a journey of a lifetime.

Both Austin and Julia are from the Dallas area, but their paths never actually crossed in the metroplex. In high school Julia worked part time at Pokey O’s, an up-and-coming Dallas ice cream parlor that had the brilliant idea to combine soft, home-made cookies with ice cream.

After high school, Julia went on to study at Baylor, but she would return to Pokey O’s to work during breaks from classes. Austin moved to Bryan to study at Texas A&M.

The two ultimately met in Waco through Austin’s sister Rachel, who was in the same sorority as Julia. A friendship ensued, but they each went in separate directions to pursue individual career goals after graduation in 2010. Julia moved to Los Angeles to work as a comic, and Austin moved to Austin with friends and worked on a film called ‘Believe Me.’

In 2013 the two reconnected in Austin through mutual friends working on the ‘Believe Me’ film. Julia returned to Los Angeles, but one phone call led to another, which led to another… After a couple of years, Julia was ready to return back to Texas. 

Austin had been accepted to Baylor law school and Julia felt that Waco would be the perfect place to reconnect with her ice cream roots and open a Pokey O’s. In January 2015, Austin and Julia got married and moved to Waco.

The newlyweds had a thumbs-up from the Pokey O’s owners in Dallas and were given all of the recipes and branding needed to proceed with a plan of opening a Pokey O’s in Waco. The Waco location would be different because Julia had plans for a food truck rather than a storefront.

They soon purchased a cargo van for $15,000 via Craigslist and took it to an RV shop to put in a sink creating the original Pokey O’s truck.

Austin believes that the path for Pokey O’s was paved because Julia put in so many hours building a trust while working at the Pokey O’s in Dallas. Julia’s hard work for all of those years provided the foundation to building the success of the Waco Pokey O’s.  Austin says, “If you’re not putting in the work there’s just no way you’re going to achieve the results you want.”

Pokey O’s Waco officially opened April 11, 2015.

Austin and Julia did things a little differently with Pokey O’s than most food trucks. They never established a home base for the Pokey O’s truck. Through social media, customers were incentivized to find them each day. A sort of scavenger hunt, if you will.

The thinking is that it’s less about location and more about Instagramable moments. It was free marketing when customers took decadent, mouth-watering pics of the ice cream desserts. They found that customers were looking for novelty rather than location and convenience.

Austin says, “Creating a product that’s really unique is something every small business should think about.”

He continues to explain that Pokey O’s could have come to Waco as an ice cream specialty store and would have ultimately been competing with Baskin Robbins or existing frozen yogurt stores. Or it could have come to Waco with a cookie specialty competing with local bakeries. Instead, Pokey O’s presented Waco with a brand new product in an ice cream sandwich. Customers recognize Pokey O’s as different and they love the whimsy of the brand and they are willing to pay for that. 

Austin and Julia jumped into the world of entrepreneurship feet first, without hesitation. There have been a few hiccups along the way with establishing a home-base commissary kitchen and testing the waters with a brick and mortar storefront. The goal is still to eventually open a store front, but location and vibe are key.

Austin stresses that there’s absolutely no substitute for hard work and that you get what you put into it. He says, “You have to create opportunities for yourself and capitalize on them.”

Austin and Julia are definitely on a sweet path to success with Pokey O’s. Sic ‘Em!


For more information on Austin and Julia’s entrepreneurial journey with Pokey O’s, please watch their Confessions of an Entrepreneur YouTube video.

For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

 

Clayton Tynes, 2019 Outstanding Student in Entrepreneurship

“But that’s the fun of entrepreneurship isn’t it…
you never know what tomorrow will bring!”

-Clayton Tynes


Growing up in Robinson, Texas, Clayton Tynes was immersed with small-town values and big-city dreams. Clayton stayed busy in high school with athletics, band and academic UIL while his family operated a multi-generational, family-owned advertising and marketing company. He was just a regular, boy-next-door.

Just ten miles outside of Waco, with Baylor University practically in his backyard, there was an obvious familiarity with the University. Clayton could give a good “sic ‘em” like any other Bear fan, but he never really saw himself as the Baylor type. He explains, “I always thought Baylor was just too great of a school for a small-town kid like me.”

After graduating high school in 2007, he moved 40 miles away to attend a near-by university. Unsure of a major and admittedly homesick, Clayton moved back home after one semester. He attended a local community college the next semester, with the hope of finding motivation for his future. After a semester at community college, Clayton still lacked clarity on his collegiate path. He determined his next step would be the United States Air Force.

Clayton served in the USAF for almost ten years, primarily as active duty and then a short time as active reservist. After separating from the USAF in January 2017, he had a now what moment. Maybe it was time to give Baylor a shot. Afterall, Clayton had always been drawn to Baylor, but there was always that twinge of doubt. Not anymore. It was time to check out what was sitting in his backyard this whole time.

Part of the now what was determining what exactly to study once at Baylor. By watching his family own and operate a business for so many years, Clayton had an innate sense of drive and entrepreneurial gumption. Being a part of such an enormous entity as the USAF, that drive had been stifled somewhat. It was always there, just tucked away. But during this now what discovery, Clayton realized that the only way he was personally able to safeguard his success or failure was by owning his own business. Studying entrepreneurship at Baylor seemed the next logical step in the now what journey.

Once at Baylor, Clayton became deeply involved in the Veterans of Baylor student organization, even serving as president for two years. Through this organization, he became acquainted with Kevin Davis, who was the organization faculty advisor and also the program manager for Baylor’s VETS (Veteran Educational and Transition Services). Kevin soon became significant factor in the now what journey. Clayton explains, “I wouldn’t be where I am now without Kevin.” He continues, “Not only is Kevin the leader of the program, but he’s also a mentor, a life coach and a great friend.”

With a lot of hard work and stick-to-it-ness, on April 24 Clayton was recognized at the Hankamer School of Business Spring Appreciation Banquet and the Baylor University Honors Convocation as the 2019 Outstanding Student in Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Professor Boris Nikolaev shares, “I am fortunate to have had such a creative, hard-working and truly outstanding student as Clayton this semester.”

Clayton would ultimately like to own and operate his own business by the time he’s forty. Maybe that means launching a new business idea. Maybe that means buying an existing business. Maybe that means purchasing a franchise. Clayton says, “But that’s the fun of entrepreneurship isn’t it… you never know what tomorrow will bring!”

Congratulations, Clayton. Sic ‘em!


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

 

Zach Morrow, Flourish

“Be passionate about your startup and have a higher driver than financial returns.”

-Zach Morrow


At a young age, Zach Morrow knew he wanted to serve others. He found joy in serving. Afterall, he grew up a missionary kid so the idea of serving others was somewhat home-grown.

Like a lot of young boys, Zach ventured into mowing lawns in the summer. He started in seventh grade mowing a neighbor’s yard, and during the next six years that neighbor’s yard grew into a bonafide lawn-care business with more than 40 yards. The “sweaty work” that his dad encouraged him to do paid off as Zach gained the invaluable know-how of a hard, work ethic.

Thus an entrepreneur was in the making.

With mom, two sisters and a brother-in-law all hailing from sic ‘em bears country, it wasn’t an outlandish idea to think Zach would follow the same path. Zach not only followed the path, he blazed it. Jumping in full-speed-ahead, Zach served as freshman class treasure, junior class president, a Robinson High School YoungLife Leader and countless club memberships. As Zach puts it, “Anything I wanted to do, I was able to accomplish.”

Zach was kind of like the Hulk, an untouchable hero type. But if you remember, the Hulk had a dark side. He was literally powered by rage. During this time of accolades and success, Zach’s mindset shifted from ”sweaty work” and serving others to one with a focus on success and making money. His goal was to make money – the most money – he could in life.

But it was during Zach’s junior year at Baylor when there was a pivot in ideals, goals and aspirations. Zach unapologetically admits that God humbled him, and he describes this time as his faith journey. He explains, “I didn’t realized during this difficult time that God was actually clearing my plate for something greater than I could have ever imagined.”

A few months before Zach’s final semester at Baylor, he befriended two students from the University of Pennsylvania. The three had a mutual passion to promote human flourishing through business. But what exactly would that look like? They explored the idea of a microfinance business model to support entrepreneurship in developing countries, but very quickly realized that was too difficult for college students to successfully launch.

Then the trio shifted gears to the idea of using round-up technology to help non-profit organizations in fundraising efforts. The idea was well received by the non-profits, but it became clear that the needs were pressing and immediate. The collegiate trio realized that this idea needed to materialize sooner rather than later.

Not wasting any time, Braden Fineberg, of the University of Pennsylvania side of the partnership, built a simple platform and app over the course of one weekend. With due-diligence they tested the app and it worked.

And Flourish began, turning pocket change into global change.

Flourish offers a micro-donation and donor analytics platform where non-profit organizations collect electronic pocket change from debit and/or credit card transactions of donors. For example, a $3.50 latte at the local coffee house will be rounded to $4.00. Flourish collects the $.50 round-up change. The donor selects how to allocate the monies and the non-profit of choice receives the pocket change.

Internally, the goal is to have 50,000 donors signed on to Flourish. That would translate to about $1 million directed to non-profit organizations each month. Zach says, “I know that God has been preparing my heart to serve others through business since I was a child.”

Zach experienced his share of growing pains while getting to the point of Flourish, but he came out more resilient and determined than ever. And the professors at the business school noticed. During Zach’s final semester at Baylor, he was recognized as the Outstanding Student in Entrepreneurship at the Baylor Hankamer School of Business Senior Appreciation Banquet.

Coming full circle with the “sweaty work” lessons from his dad, Zach has learned that it takes the right team from a utility perspective to utilize sweat equity. And even more important than the ultimate team is passion. Zach sums it up, “At the end of the day, even the greatest opportunity can leave someone lifeless and unmotivated.”

Zach certainly still has a superhero quality, but maybe not so much on the dark and Hulkish spectrum. Perhaps there’s more of a Captain America-esque aura about him, but with a sic ‘em bears kind of flare.


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

Eric Guel, Eric Guel Photography


“I believe most people can (and should) carry their passion into

whatever vocation is available to them.”

-Eric Guel


There’s that old saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words. But is it really that cut and dry? Think about it. Sometimes a picture’s too blurry, too bright, a head’s cut off or there’s a bad angle. Realistically, not all pictures are worth a thousand words. And if you have any doubt of that, a quick “photography fails” search in Pinterest will leave you either giggling or cringing – or maybe even a little of both.

But what if good photography – true photography – is more about a calling? Wouldn’t that kind of explain the cringiness of some of those Pinterest fails?

It makes sense. Let’s take Eric Guel, for example. Eric truly feels that there is legitimacy to the old adage that you don’t choose photography, but it chooses you. Prior to high school Eric had no photography experience. None whatsoever. Just by chance he took a random Photo 1 class, and he liked it. He really liked it. It’s almost like photography grabbed a hold of him and wouldn’t let go. A love for photography was now deep within Eric’s heart and soul.

After three years of photography classes in high school, Eric decided to pursue journalism and photojournalism in college. Despite the fact that both parents were Houston Baptist University alumni, Eric followed his older brother’s footsteps and made the move to Waco to become a Baylor bear.

A photographer in Waco? Seriously, Waco would have to be a photographer’s dream-come-true. There are so many scenic backdrops to explore. There’s Cameron Park, the Waco suspension bridge, the downtown Waco murals and just about any spot on the Baylor campus. You get the idea. Waco is chock-full of fabulous, on-location photography spots. For a heart-and-soul kind of photographer, Baylor is the perfect choice.

While at Baylor, Eric studied photojournalism under photography professor, Clark Baker. One of Eric’s main takeaways from Professor Baker is it’s all right to fail and it’s also all right to just be yourself as a photographer. As a student, Eric worked with the Lariat which ultimately helped him land a job in the newspaper industry after graduation. And like many trailblazing photographers before him, Eric started out doing part-time photography for weddings and family portraits with Eric Guel Photography.

A few years ago, however, Eric decided to take photography on full-time. He was actually motivated to make the giant leap after hearing Fawn Germer speak at a Baylor Pro Sales event. The entire talk was about taking risks to do what you love to do. That was all the nudging he needed.

Eric also decided to shift his business focus to commercial photography by primarily serving businesses with convention and conference photography, headshots, marketing collateral and website images. Since then, he has been able to capture images for organizations such as Bausch + Lomb, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard, Salesforce and even for his beloved alma mater.

Even though Eric loves being a full-time entrepreneur, he admittedly isn’t much of a business person. Eric jokingly confesses that he just may actually have an allergic reaction to all things involving mathematics. But Eric is a firm believer that there’s always something to learn. He considers Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins friends and mentors — in a podcasty kind of way. When thinking about his business challenges and obstacles, Eric leans on one of his favorite quotes from Robbins, “It’s not a lack of resources that’s the problem, but a lack of resourcefulness.”

Maybe Eric is onto something. Maybe there is some legitimacy to you don’t choose photography, but it chooses you. It certainly looks like photography has chosen this Baylor bear. Sic ’em!


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

Madi Smyser, Madi’s Munchies

“The joy of success will outweigh the disappointment of failure.”

-Madi Smyser


Me want cookie! ~ Cookie Monster

If we’re honest – really honest – we would admit that there is a little bit of Cookie Monster in all of us. And let’s be real, there have been times when, like the Cookie Monster, all we can muster are three simple words… me want cookie!

But what if you could squelch that cookie craving with a Texas Two-Pound Chocolate Chip Cookie that’s the size of your face?

Yes, please!

Whether you have a hankering for a colossal two-pounder or a craving for a more unassuming dozen, Madi Smyser of Madi’s Munchies can take care of your inner Cookie Monster.

Madi’s Munchies is a fabulous little cookie haven in Austin, Texas, that provides a respite for those struggling with an uncontrollable cookie craving. But what makes Madi’s Munchies different from any other bakery, aside from the obvious two-pounder? Madi, the founder and CEO of Madi’s Munchies is a 17-year-old who just completed her junior year at Vandegrift High School just outside of Austin. You read that right. The mastermind behind Madi’s Munchies and the gargantuan two-pound cookie is a high school student.

And it all started with a case of the munchies – Madi’s munchies. During the fall of 2016, Madi hopped into the kitchen to whip up a batch of homemade granola bars to pack in her lunch. With a little bit of this and a little bit of that, the end result was a mighty tasty bar. Madi wasn’t the only one whose taste buds did flips for the bars. Others liked them too. In early 2017, as any budding entrepreneur would do, Madi started selling the bars in her neighborhood.

But what do people like even more than made-from-scratch granola bars? Cookies. Folks really, really like homemade cookies…fresh-from-the-oven homemade cookies, to be more specific.

Madi adjusted her entrepreneurial focus to baked cookies. On random Friday or Saturday nights, she would bake and hand deliver warm, chocolate chip cookies to the cookie-craving folks in the neighborhood. And thanks to the wildfire, word-of-mouth effect of Facebook, folks actually started tracking Madi down for her cookies. It was kind of like a modern-day, viral Where’s Waldo hunt. Well, except it was Madi and not Waldo and instead of a “woohoo I found Waldo” it was a “woohoo I nabbed hot, fresh chocolate chip cookies.”

Madi was on her way to being a bonafide cookie-baking aficionado. She knew what her customers liked and she had a solid customer base. But could she do more? That was the $100,000 question.

In August 2017, Madi accompanied her dad to the Success Summit real estate conference where renowned real estate coach and speaker Tom Ferry was the keynote speaker. During a Q&A session with Ferry, Madi asked some general business questions concerning her cookie-baking business. Ferry provided some insightful thoughts, but also offered up a challenge. If Madi can sell $100,000 of cookies and other baked goods by the 2018 Summit gathering and keep up her grades in the process, Ferry said he would give Madi $5,000. He would give her $1,000 at the $50,000 sales mark and the remaining $4,000 when she hit $100,000.

The challenge was accepted.

And it just so happened, someone from Tom Ferry’s inner circle had a close connection to a producer for the the Rachael Ray Show. Madi took Ferry’s advice to heart and sent a package of cookies to New York for the producers to try. On November 9 a head producer of the Rachael Ray Show contacted Madi. She provided footage of actually whipping up a batch of Madi’s Munchies cookies and the segment ultimately aired on the Rachael Ray Show on December 4.

The accolades continued. A couple months after her debut on the Rachael Ray Show, Madi received second place recognition in the third annual Baylor Youth Entrepreneur Awards. Through this program, Baylor’s Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise recognizes young entrepreneurs from across the country and provides these students with an opportunity to network and explore options as they pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Growing a successful business so quickly certainly came with an array of challenges. In order for Madi to have the type of business she wanted, access to a commercial kitchen was imperative. She tried out a couple of different kitchens, each with different issues and idiosyncrasies before she finally settled on the one she is currently using. She had to decide what exactly she needed in a kitchen before she could choose the right one.

The next hurdle was finding the time and money for all of the certifications, permits and licenses required to sell baked goods on a larger scale. Prior to the agreement with Ferry, Madi operated business under the Texas Cottage Food Industry Laws, which allowed for baking to be done in a house. Madi could also sell directly to customers with only a Food Handler’s certification. Madi’s Munchies outgrew that, and Madi had to obtain a Food Manager license accompanied by other permits and routine inspections.

Madi’s Munchies are currently sold in four, local Dan’s Hamburgers locations in the Austin area. Short-term, Madi would like to get her cookies into more restaurant settings. However, she has somewhat broadened her vision. While the initial door-to-door, consumer based business model is what made Madi’s Munchies what it is today, Madi is seeing more potential with a business-to-business strategy. Madi says, “I want to build a successful business and continue to learn from it…every day.”

But the challenge with Ferry had two conditions. The first condition was $100,000 in sales and the second was to maintain good grades. Madi admits it has been hard at times to juggle her growing business along with school work. Afterall, junior year is certainly no walk in the park. Time management is something she is learning and mastering. Madi’s objective is to make the most of every single minute of each day.

Madi says, “Starting a new business is hard, but it’s so worth it if you really love what you’re doing.”

Madi loves what she’s doing and her customers love her cookies. It’s a win-win that even the hangriest Cookie Monster would have to agree!

 


2018 Baylor Youth Entrepreneur Award Top Three Finalists
Marshall Adams, Nishka Ayyar, Riya Gupta, Madi Smyser

2018 Youth Entrepreneur Award Finalists
Marshall Adams of Texas Snow Waco (First Place Recipient)
Madi Smyser of Madi’s Munchies (Second Place Recipient)
Nishka Ayyar and Riya Gupta of PromElle, LLC (Third Place Recipient)
Ryan Gabriel of KOLD Wear
Gina Marie Grieb of G&G Pressure Washing
Walt Horton of Blue Valley Fly Fishing
Will Penningwerth of Spark3D
Kyndal Sligh of Red Barn Genetics 


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

Hannah Franzen, Business Growth Strategist at Towny

“All of your passions can work together.”

-Hannah Franzen


Baylor grad, Hannah Franzen recently came back to campus as a guest speaker for a Business & Innovation LLC lunch-time talk.

As guests munched on salads from the local Mix Café, Hannah shared a story of growing up overseas and coming to the United States to finish out her high school studies. Since both parents were proud Baylor graduates, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea that Baylor would become Hannah’s college of choice. And because of her passion to aid development within communities, Hannah focused her concentration on entrepreneurship and economics.

While at Baylor, Hannah jumped in full throttle by participating in the Business Excellence Scholarship Team (BEST) Program, the CASE Competition and the New Venture Competition. Hannah was determined to go for all the opportunities she could. Admittedly, not every endeavor was a stereotypical success, but Hannah kept-on-keeping-on with the philosophy that failure is just simply information.

After graduation, Hannah traveled to Mongolia and worked with an anti-trafficking nonprofit. She then came back to the states and took on a leadership role at a San Diego church for a couple of years. Hannah explains, “Life doesn’t always look like you think it will look.”

As Hannah was trying to figure out what exactly her journey of entrepreneurship and economics would look like, she heard about Towny from a friend. She was intrigued by the company mission. Soon after, Hannah landed what she now refers to as “her dream job” with Towny.

Towny is currently in five US markets, with future expansion on the horizon. According to its website, Towny is on a mission to highlight the local businesses that cook your food, sell your unique clothes and wash your car. These are the businesses that you may have never previously noticed.

Towny is a consumer marketing app for locally owned businesses and banks. The idea is that Towny will provide a method for local businesses to regularly communicate sales and promotions with consumers. Consumer purchases not only support local businesses but also add up with a rewards program.  

For Hannah, Towny is a platform she can use to follow her passion to help build development within communities. Hannah’s philosophy is actually pretty simple… in order to be an entrepreneur, you have to learn from entrepreneurs. And the best way to learn from entrepreneurs is to talk to the business owners. As Hannah explains, “Every business has a story to tell.”

Hannah loves that she is able to help existing small business owners and at the same time bridge the gap between an old way of running a business with brick and mortar with a new way of running a business with technology. She believes you truly can connect the old with the new.

This is what Hannah’s journey of entrepreneurship and economics looks like right now. She takes pride in that she is helping to develop local communities one small business at a time. Hannah emphasizes, “If you think you have something valuable to offer, you probably do.”


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.