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/.

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/.

 

Ryan Snitzer, Campus Crates

“There are so many opportunities out there. You’ll never know if you can succeed unless you try.”

Ryan Snitzer


It’s moving time!

Three words that can conjure up just about every conceivable emotion within a mere minute.

Excitement – It’s a new home and a new adventure.
Nervousness – The unknown is, well, unknown.
Anxiety – There’s just so much to do.
Dread – Packing and unpacking are about as enjoyable as a root canal.

Rest assured, there are loads of online resources with tips and suggestions to make packing and unpacking less of a pull-out-your-hair-in-a-frenzy experience and more of a…more of a… Oh, let’s face it, you’re never going to have a lollipop and rainbow day while packing and/or unpacking, but there are tips to definitely make it a little easier.

TIP 1: Before you box up electronics, grab your phone and take a quick picture of how everything is hooked up and connected — BEFORE you disconnect.

TIP 2: Designate a different colored duct tape for each room and use the colored duct tape as a way to tape boxes shut but also as a way to label the boxes.

TIP 3: Pack the essentials that you will need right away in a clear plastic tub.

And the most important tip if you’re a Baylor student is TIP 4: Contact Campus Crates!

Never heard of Campus Crates? It just happens to be an incredibly innovative and ingenious business launched by a couple of Baylor students to help ease the moving frustrations that parents and students experience, especially with a May end-of-lease move.

Ryan Snitzer created the business with his previous partner, Ryan Robinson, during their sophomore year at Baylor. The idea of Campus Crates came about as they discovered the need for summer storage after having previous troubling move-out experiences at the end of their Freshman year. 

It was in that moment the two realized that there had to be a convenient, yet affordable, alternative for Baylor students. And as any Entrepreneurship major would do, they put the “had-to-be” thought to work.

The budding entrepreneurs utilized a stockpile of amazing resources within the Baylor Business School to make the “had-to-be” thought become a reality, and they relied on the guidance and advice of Mary Abrahams and David Reid. Snitzter also fell back on the example and leadership of his entrepreneurial father.  

The initial goal was to conquer the world of storage and moving – to be the McDonald’s of the storage and moving industry. Admittedly, it was a lofty dream, but over time they realized that a leaner and more narrow approach would help produce an initial success.

It was also understood that a rigid business plan would not work with the harried schedules of fellow students. Going into this venture with adaptable and open mind was a necessity, and ultimately the key to Campus Crate’s success.

Here’s how the Campus Crates on-demand storage services work:

  • Customers register with Campus Crates and pay.
  • Campus Crates schedules a time.
  • Campus Crates delivers boxes to customer’s front door.
  • Customer packs boxes at their convenience (see tips 1-3 to make it easier).
  • Campus Crates stores belongings in a secure facility during the summer.
  • Campus Crates returns belongings to customer in the fall.

Campus Crates has moved out and stored over 200 students belongings in less than two years. That means Campus Crates has saved 200 students from the pull-out-your-hair-in-a-frenzy packing and/or unpacking experience and maybe, just maybe, also helped those students have a lollipop and rainbow day.

Snitzter says, “If you don’t create that product or service, someone else will.”

Students all over campus are mighty glad that “had-to-be” thought of an easy, convenient and flexible moving experience became an actual reality with Campus Crates.

Snitzer recently merged the business with The UPS Store in Waco and plans for the business to continue to assist students in moving, shipping, and storing their belongings for years to come. 


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Kirsten Dickerson, Raven + Lily

“Never lose sight of your mission or reason for wanting to start a business.”

-Kirsten Dickerson


Entrepreneur.com posted an interesting article that listed the top 5 reasons one should consider becoming an entrepreneur. The list went as follows:

  1. The opportunity to control your destiny
  2. The freedom to spend your time doing what’s important to you
  3. Unlimited earning possibilities
  4. Location independence
  5. The chance to leave a lasting legacy

By all accounts, that’s a respectable listing. Destiny, freedom, possibilities, independence, legacy… Yes, please.

But actually, it’s the astute doctrine of Dr. Seuss that seems to sum up the essence of an entrepreneur even better. With a good bit of certainty, we can assume that the esteemed storyteller was not speaking on entrepreneurship, but the sentiment is fitting, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Now doesn’t that completely sum up entrepreneurship in a perfect little package topped with a pretty little bow? In basic terms, entrepreneurship is when innovators believe they have a product or service that can make things better for a group of people – and they do something about it.

Making things better…

Kirsten Dickerson is an entrepreneur guided by such insightful Seuss-ism. This Baylor graduate received her BSE, but immediately knew her classroom was beyond the confines of the typical, academic four walls. The day after walking the stage at Baylor, Kirsten hopped on a plane for a volunteer assignment. Since that day, she has traveled to more than 30 countries advocating for women and shaping her global perspective in effort to use fashion for good in the world.

In 1997 Kirsten led a cross-cultural outreach trip to India to visit her favorite non profit groups that were focused on empowering women and alleviating poverty. The core belief being that when women are empowered to earn an income, they will invest back into health, education, food, children, family and ultimately the community.

Kirsten and her team saw a growing trend in training women in design skills. However, while the nonprofits were headed in the right direction, they missed the mark on providing modern design input and the necessary tools to access the western market. Kirsten took matters into her own hands and pulled together a group of experts in fashion, jewelry and graphic design to walk along side her in effort to empower the women working so hard to forge their own path.

The concept has always been to lead with the best designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the artisan women. In 2008, Kirsten and her crew started the self-funded, nonprofit Raven + Lily. Three years later the business moved into the current for profit social business model.

The Raven + Lily mission is simple, but bold. Raven + Lily, as an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand, is dedicated to empowering women through jobs by design. The desire is to create modern designs produced through long-term artisan partnerships that help employ women from around the world. Currently, Raven + Lily employs more than 1,500 women through fair trade design partnerships in 10 different countries, including the US.

These partners employ at-risk women who are trafficked, HIV positive, previously homeless or in oppressive situations. Raven + Lily strives to empower these women, who are at times perceived as outcasts and/or socially invisible, to earn a living for themselves and their families.

The current focus for the business is to strengthen online sales, which have provided the strongest margins. The four-year goal, however, is to expand to strategically located storefronts in key cities like Los Angeles and New York City.

One thing that sets Raven + Lily apart from other social enterprises is a B Corporation classification. As a certified Benefit Corporation, Raven + Lily is committed to:

  • Employing at risk, impoverished women to improve their livelihood
  • Eco-friendly practices in sourcing of materials and design processes
  • Honoring traditional artisan crafts and techniques
  • Providing sustainable fair trade wages
  • Creating exclusive, modern designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the women who create them
  • Donating back to the artisan communities for healthcare and educational needs

Raven + Lily is also Fair Trade Federation certified and was named Best for the World in Community Impact. Other accolades and acknowledgements include the Classy Award: Philanthropic Business of the Year and the Austin Gives Generous Business Award: Charitable Champions.

That’s a whole lot of making things better, but Kirsten is quick to point out that Raven + Lily didn’t just happen. She credits her husband Brandon for being her biggest cheerleader, supporter and encourager on this incredible journey. Kirsten also acknowledges that while her ridiculously intuitive (our words, not hers) “on-the-job CEO training” was certainly productive, it’s because she had a distinguished posse of business mentors (Kendra Scott) and board members (Amanda Nevins and Danielle Pruitt) that she was able to blaze a trail like none other.

And then there are those whom Kirsten passionately refers to as the “main heroes” of the Raven + Lily success. She says, “The women artisans of Raven + Lily are my constant inspiration and the main factor for our success.”

We go back to the words of Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Don’t you think the world is a much better place because people like Kirsten and those around her care a whole awful lot?


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Cece Lively, Lively Designs

 

“Your hard work is a direct reflection on your products.”

-Cece Lively


We’ve all seen the funny tees imprinted with something like my grandma went to Luckenbach and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. Not that there is anything wrong with going to Luckenbach, but there is something terribly wrong with gifting a lousy t-shirt.

But what are you supposed to do if you want a tee that’s fun and maybe even a little funky? Something a little different that isn’t mass produced. Something that captures your absolute essence in a sassy and comfy tee. You contact Cece Lively, that’s what you do.

Cece is the founder, the creator, the designer, the mastermind, the genius behind Lively Designs, something she likes to refer to as a little business started from people loving my tees locally!

And seriously, what’s not to love! Lively Designs has simply-stated tees imprinted with but first coffee, farm fresh or choose joy, but also the fun, got-it-goin’-on tees imprinted with wake-pray-slay or mama needs wine. The best part is custom tee orders are accepted. They are actually encouraged.

There’s so much love for Cece’s tees that she was invited to participate as a vendor in the 2017 Spring at the Silos event at the Waco Magnolia Market, hosted by Joanna Gaines. Yes, you read that right, the Joanna Gaines.

But to grasp the full magnitude of this home-grown success story, we have to back up a little bit. Long story short… Cece grew up in Orlando, but she likes to tell people that she came to Texas just as soon as she could. She received her masters in education administration from Baylor University and is currently teaching a lucky group of fifth graders the joy of math at Robinson Intermediate School.

In October 2016 Cece made a fun tee at the request of her daughter. She posted a picture of the tee on Facebook thinking maybe she could bring in a little extra money making custom tees.

A friend from Houston saw the picture and asked to share it via Instagram. The friend wanted to do a tee giveaway via Instagram, but in order to do that Cece had to create an Etsy page. Cece was resistant, but ultimately she created a Lively Designs Etsy page.

Initially, it was hard for Cece to give away her tees. But that Instagram giveaway was the catalyst for something bigger. Much bigger.

After the Instagram giveaway, Lively Designs had 15 tee orders on Etsy. Just like that, people were going crazy for the comfy, made-with-a-personal-touch tees. And Cece was carving a definite niche for Lively Designs. While there are a ton of really awesome tee makers on Etsy, most have minimum order requirements of 12-15 tees. Cece decided Lively Designs would forgo the sometimes complicated minimum order requirement. She says, “I’m not afraid to do a custom order with just one or two tees!”

Cece was well aware that just because one item did well on Etsy, success was not a guarantee. But she figured that if a shirt did well locally, then there was a good chance that folks would like it online as well.

Her marketing plan was simple, yet ingenious — post pictures of the newest tee creations on social media and direct folks to the Etsy page. That strategy worked well. From October – December, Lively Designs sold about 1,000 tees.

Holy guacamole! Cece wasn’t prepared for that kind of growth pace. She had to take a few steps back and create a business plan and set some goals for a healthy balance for family, teaching and Etsy.

Cece wrapped up 2016 on such a high note, she set a 2017 sales goal of 10,000 tees. It was an ambitious goal, but she was determined to jump in feet-first and go for it. She continued her marketing strategy utilizing social media, but word-of-mouth soon became one of Lively Designs’ biggest assets. So much so, that Cece was personally invited by Joanna Gaines to participate in the March 2017 Magnolia Market Spring at the Silos event. This three-day event, featured 65 amazing artisan vendors from across the country. And Lively Designs had a booth right in the middle of it all.

This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, mind-blowing kind of opportunities for this small-town businesswoman. Cece sold more than 700 tees in those three days at the Silos. And she came home to another 100 Etsy orders. 

This spring, Cece also tested the waters with a hands-on buying experience for her customers. Lively Designs now has a rental space at the local, downtown Waco hot-spot Sironia. Sironia is a fabulous boutique-type lunch destination with to-die-for desserts and fun, artisan shopping.

It’s looking like Lively Designs is getting closer and closer to that ambitious 2017 sales goal. Cece credits her success to her entrepreneurial parents, supportive friends, loads of hard work and fun. She says, “The hard work is paying off, but most importantly I’m having fun too!”

Sayonara to lousy, boring tees! And hello to Lively Designs.


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

2017 Baylor Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

-Walt Disney


What comes to mind when you hear the term good ol’ days? For a lot of folks, the good ol’ days  are the years spent in high school. Football games, homecoming dances, proms and first glances from a high school sweetheart – a lot of good memories, albeit some very awkward memories, but nonetheless good memories indeed.

Adulting can be hard and it can be stressful. And let’s face it, with grown-up jobs, bills and decision making the fun and lackadaisical good ol’ days feeling can be somewhat elusive at times. But there is an elite group of students who brilliantly combined the good ol’ days of high school with the responsibility of adulting with such amazing finesse that Baylor just had to honor them with 2017 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Yes, you read that right. Youth and entrepreneurship in harmony, sort of communal like two peas in a pod. But really, those two words go together like fine mess, jumbo shrimp, clearly confused, old news and awfully good. Youth aren’t supposed to be entrepreneurs. That’s adulting stuff. Youth should be living it up in the good ol’ days.

Maybe so, but these students have blazed an entrepreneurial trail like none other. And we’re not talking cookie-cutter entrepreneurial endeavors either. These youth entrepreneurs were successful with pizazzy socks and chic personalized gifts. Definitely not run-of-the-mill side gigs.

Roxie Collier, Brennan, Mary Abrahams

The first place recipient of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award was high school junior, Brennan Agranoff. Brennan is the founder of HoopSwagg, an apparel customization business that specializes in socks. These aren’t ordinary, boring socks though. These are pizazzy socks.

Be warned. If you’re looking for plain-jane, blend-in-with-the-crowd kind of socks, steer clear of HoopSwagg. But if you’re looking for socks with an edge, sock that make a statement with design names like Psycho Rainbow, Goat Farm, Detonation and Eyeballz then you must check out HoopSwagg.com…now.

But how in the world did this happen?

It all started in seventh grade. In midst of typical adolescent self discovery, Brennan became obsessed with socks. The only problem with that was everyone was wearing plain colored socks. And plain colored socks didn’t satisfy this budding sock aficionado. Brennan mowed the lawn all summer and saved his money to buy the very coolest pair of wildly-colored socks online for $50. He wore the perfectly hued socks to school in the fall and all of his friends were duly impressed.

As with any entrepreneur, Brennan wondered how he could make a razzle-dazzle sock on his own. For six months he researched processes, equipment and production. He then had a few samples made and tried his luck on eBay. Not knowing exactly what to expect with his first try at eCommerce, Brennan was thrilled when the socks instantly sold out.

Brennan knew he was onto something with his flashy feet accessories. He prepared a business plan and asked his parents for a $3,000 loan. The parentals loved the idea and complied with the loan request. By August 2013, armed with funding, equipment and a live website, HoopSwagg, LLC was the real deal.

There have been a few bumps in the road for Brennan. One of the biggest hurdles has simply been his age. Paperwork, financials and trademark submissions all required a parent’s signature. And then there’s the unknown. The not knowing what can go wrong is a struggle. But Brennan looks at each new problem as an opportunity to find a solution.

A lot has changed since that initial 2013 launch. HoopSwagg now has its own brand of sock and Brennan is looking to expand his high school basketball program to more than 500 teams. Eventually, he would like to introduce the retail market to his less expensive, high quality socks.

Brennan says, “When you have something that people want, they will come.”

Roxie Collier, Addison, Mary Abrahams

The third place recipient of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award was high school sophomore, Addison Bain. Addison is the founder of Addigrams, a business that takes everyday items like travel mugs and backpacks and personalizes them with monograms and names. A morning cup of joe in a chic, personalized mug…yes, please.

But how in the world did this happen?

The Addigrams journey began during a summer trip to Michigan when Addison’s Aunt Kristen introduced the most amazing, the most intriguing, the most fabulous thing ever…a Cricut®. The Cricut is a nifty machine that is every crafty DIYer’s dream come true. It’s a die-cutting machine,  and according to the website, it can be used for “everything from cards and gifts to party and home decor, fashion and accessories and more!”

The budding entrepreneur took the “and more” and ran with it. Immediately she imagined all of the ways she could use a Cricut, and like any innovative teenager would do…she asked mom and dad if they would buy her a Cricut. The conversation didn’t go quite as Addison had hoped, but that didn’t stop this precocious teen.

Addison started saving her babysitting earnings. By September, she had $190. Even though she was still $60 short, Addison’s parents chipped in the remainder and bought the Cricut. After a few weeks of experimenting with the Cricut, Addison’s wheels were turning. She started thinking of all the different customized items she could create with the Cricut. All of the things she could create…and sell. Addison wanted to start her own business.

With backing from mom and dad, Addison created an Etsy shop. Initially, customers were family and friends. However, that soon changed with the magical powers of social media and word-of-mouth praise. And like any successful entrepreneur would do, Addison wondered how she could make her business better. Embroidery was the next plan of action.

Addigrams’ custom-chic, monogrammed and embroidered items have been shipped to 22 states. Addison does close the Etsy store during school months, but during that time she takes every opportunity to participate in community events and markets. Her next plan is to broaden the product line to include leather jewelry.

Addison says, “Never think you are too young to start your own business.”

Luther Vandross once said, “The best part is still ahead of me – I haven’t experienced my ‘good old days’ yet.”

Maybe Brennan and Addison are onto something. Something big. Something extraordinary. Something that dreams are made of. Maybe any day and every day can be a good ol’ day.

2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award Finalists and Winners
First Place Winner, Brennan Agranoff, HoopSwagg, LLC
Second Place Winner, Ehan Kamat, 321 Innovations, LLC
Third Place Winner, Addison Bain, Addigrams
Finalist, Sam Fleet, QuickShare Cloud Services
Finalist, Cade Hudson, Hudson Pressure Washing
Finalist, Evan Hara, Evan Hara Films
Finalist, Matthew Hoenig, Matthew Hoenig Productions
Finalist, Luke Stetler, Durango Tire Storage
Finalist, Kyle Tananbaum, Sector 214
Finalist, JB Williams, JB’s Firewood


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Brett & Emily Mills, Jesus Said Love

“Know your purpose and don’t deviate.”

~Emily Mills


Just taking a shot in the dark here, but chances are that most folks have entertained the thought of being their own boss at least once, maybe even twice. After all, entrepreneurship sounds like a pretty stellar gig.

Forbes.com recently posted an article listing the four benefits of being an entrepreneur as 1) you’re always learning and growing, 2) there is never a dull moment, 3) you decide what to do with time, and 4) everything depends on your choice.

But when Baylor grads, Brett and Emily Mills booked their entrepreneurial gig, they were looking at entrepreneurship from a different angle. In early 2003 the couple was leading a worship band at a conference focused on ministry to sex workers. At this event, they listened to first-hand stories of women who felt trapped within the sex industry. Heartbroken and determined, the couple was burdened for the exploited women in their hometown Waco, TX.

As Brett and Emily tried to dissect the stories they noticed that gender violence was a consistent and common thread among the women. That spring, they honed in their focus to strip clubs in Waco. They decided to bring Easter to the women trapped in the Waco sex industry.

Like an army platoon on a mission, a small group of women went into two strip clubs armed with nothing more than gift bags filled with practical, high-quality gifts. Brett and Emily are very particular about the gift bags. They feel that if Jesus can give His life…then they should be able to give a nice bag. Jesus gave his best. They will then give their best.

Amazingly, the outreach was welcomed with open arms by both the bag recipients and the club managers. The bag giving became a bi-annual endeavor at Easter and Christmas. By 2007, Brett and Emily felt the need for a bit more structure and organization for their outreach. Jesus Said Love (JSL) was then adopted under their existing worship and ministry nonprofit 501c(3) Bartimaeus Ministries, Inc.

According to Emily, eighty-nine percent of commercial sex exploits say that they want out but have no other means of survival. The next step in this outreach was Lovely Enterprise. Lovely Enterprise (Lovely) is a retail storefront that serves as a social enterprise of JSL aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex exploitation by providing living-wage jobs and launching micro businesses. The goal of Lovely is to provide economic empowerment opportunities to domestic, commercial sex exploits.

Dictionary.com defines entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Organizes, the JSL way…

Brett and Emily saw a systemic issue with a lack of employment opportunities for those trying to break away from the sex industry. They faced two immediate hurdles:

  1. Finding employers willing to hire JSL ladies – most ladies either have a criminal background or have been in the industry for so long that they had large resume gaps.
  2. Securing transportation – many of the ladies’ driver’s licenses have expired.

When the realization hit that outsourcing jobs was a daunting and seemingly impossible task, Brett and Emily decided to create their own storefront space with Lovely.

The idea is that women who have gone through JSL will move on to work at Lovely. The products sold through Lovely include handmade items, leather jewelry and Lovely Buns. Lovely Buns are  mouth-watering, cinnamon rolls made with love and Emily’s Aunt Mammy’s secret recipe. The Lovely Buns lead baker has personally overcome the industry with the help of JSL and wants to eventually start her own food service business. Lovely is providing her with the stepping stone to do just that.

The Lovely goal is all about empowerment, not enablement.

Manages, the JSL way…

JSL operates under six basic financial principles:

  1. Cash only (no debt)
  2. Have a savings
  3. Operate on a budget
  4. Give generously
  5. Spend less than we take in
  6. Financial transparency

Enterprise, the JSL way…

Brett says, “The more you’re around people who need Jesus, the more you realize that it’s not ‘them and us’, but it’s really just ‘us’.”

JSL encompasses what they refer to as their three-part method:

GO – Visit commercial sex establishments on a consistent basis, bringing high-quality gifts to employees.
LOVE – Offer authentic relationships to commercial sex exploits, no strings attached. We love them where they are.
CONNECT – Offer access to community and spiritual resources, awakening hope and empowering change.

Business, the JSL way…

Overhead is a necessary and normal component to every business, charitable organizations included. For JSL, the approach to overhead expenses is to maintain a positive return on investment, and at the same time enhance the effectiveness of their programs. Ultimately, Brett and Emily spend what it takes to accomplish their mission.

Initiative, the JSL way…

Neither Brett nor Emily had a traditional business background. They relied on the input of others who forged a path before them with successes like World Cup Cafe and Perpetual Help Home. At the urging of right-arm, staff member Jersey Schmidt, they even embarked on a field trip to Los Angeles to visit Homeboy Industries and The Giving Keys for additional insight.

Emily says, “Most people start business with a product in mind, but we started with people in mind.” She continued, “People will always be number one for us.”

Risk, the JSL way…

Emily explains that the work she and Brett do is messy; because, simply put, people are messy. She stresses that working a job that you love and are proud of helps establish value. But creating those jobs and helping women in recovery requires money. With that in mind, JSL is always looking for those who have a passion to give to innovative solutions to poverty.

Brett and Emily feel their calling is that they “are called to something much greater than ourselves. Loving God, loving others, worship, and justice motivate everything we do. In this calling, we are compelled with a ferocious resolve to do what must be done and stop what must not be done.”

Jesus Said Love…a company with a social impact, humbly serving Waco, Dallas, Bryan/College Station, San Antonio, Temple/Killeen and Houston. It’s entrepreneurship at it’s best. A mighty stellar gig, indeed.


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Student Entrepreneurs, Sugar Lips

“I’ve learned that everyone is capable of more than they think.”

~ Kaitleigh Booth


In 1969, The Archies released a little ditty with a snappy beat and sweet lyrics. You may remember, the chorus…

Sugar, ah honey honey
You are my candy girl
And you’ve got me wanting you

Don’t you think this song is the perfect personification of a sugary-sweet kind of product line? Maybe something that’s made of sugar and honey. You know, maybe something called Sugar Lips.

We think so too!

You may be wondering to yourself, what in the world is this candy-inspired sensation called Sugar Lips.

Sugar Lips is the brainchild of Baylor freshman Lauren Evans. During the fall 2016 semester, Lauren was enrolled in Entrepreneurship 3301 (ENT 3301) in association with the Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Center.

While taking ENT 3301, Lauren and her fellow classmates read The One Thing by Gary Keller, Founder of Keller-Williams Realty International. The students were then assigned to teams and each team was asked to build a business. Thus, we introduce you to Sugar Lips.

Sugar Lips is a student-made lip cosmetic that exfoliates lips with cane sugar and moisturizes lips with honey and olive oil. The Sugar Lips mission is to create a high-quality and all-natural lip scrub at an affordable price that leaves customers with soft and supple lips.

All it takes is a quick “lip scrub” Google search to realize that lip scrubs are the latest must-haves for beauty routines. But what makes this sugary phenomenon so special?

According to Kaitleigh Booth the Chief Marketing Officer for Sugar Lips, regular lip exfoliating allows popular matte lipsticks to go on smoother and last longer. 

Kaitleigh also points out that there are a couple of things that set Sugar Lips apart from other popular lip scrubs. First, Sugar Lips is made up of all-natural and organic ingredients, hopping on the trendy, organic-beauty-products bandwagon. Fewer processed ingredients equates fewer irritations and adverse reactions. Second, Sugar Lips solves the unpleasant problem of dry and chapped lips. And third, Sugar Lips is right here on campus.

Initially, the Sugar Lips team goal was to acquire an “A” in the class. According to Mary Abrahams, faculty advisor to the Entrepreneurship LLC, Sugar Lips was definitely a successful startup business. Mary explained that the students pooled together their own money to fund the initial investment of $104. In the end, they were able to pay back their individual investments as well as make a profit.

It didn’t take long for this student-business team to realize that Sugar Lips may just be the start of something sweetly spectacular. Maybe, just maybe, they could expand Sugar Lips beyond the Baylor community. The team looked bigger…bigger as in the popular Saturday morning Waco Farmer’s Market.

This group of like-minded, budding entrepreneurs has big dreams, but there are some hurdles. Sugar Lips is considered a personal care product, meaning it is a cosmetic and subject to FDA rules and regulations. Before Sugar Lips can proceed with any expansion goals, FDA approval is a required.

Until then, the ladies of the Baylor community will enjoy being their best version of a sugar-sugar candy girl…with smooth lips.

Sugar Lips
Partnership with Chinaberry Boutique
Chief Executive Officer: Lauren Evans
Chief Financial Officer: Tristan Dunn and Jurong Chen
Chief Marketing Officer: Kaitleigh Booth
Research Development: Samantha Treadwell
Manufacture: Taylor Mitchell
Sales Manager: Toi Tennessee


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.

 

Karen Tyler, Propel Education Strategies

karen-tyler

“I believe the only way to be ready for change is to always evaluate products and services and to find ways to innovate in a constantly shifting field.”

~Karen Tyler


Jimi Hendrix once said, “I wish they’d had electric guitars in cotton fields back in the good old days. A whole lot of things would’ve been straightened out.”

Regardless of one’s interpretation of when exactly the good old days occurred, Jimmy is right about one thing. The good old days embody a simpler time. A time free of social media, Xbox games and apparently a time free of electric guitars in cotton fields. And if you ask any uber-motivated high school student today, the good old days represent a time before Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Created in the mid-1950s, AP is a program that allows high school students to take specific courses that will earn them college credit, without even leaving their high school campus. The AP class culminates with an exam that covers everything the students learned in AP class. The exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with many universities offering college credit for a qualifying score of 3 or above.

Every year, there are more than 2.4 million students taking AP exams in 38 different subjects. And many of those students are taking multiple AP exams because they are enrolled in more than one AP course.

The Princeton Review lists the benefits of taking AP classes as follows:

  • Prep for college
  • Rise to the top of the pile
  • Strengthen your transcript
  • Study what you love
  • Get a head start on college reqs (and save some tuition dollars)

Indeed, a lot of weight is put on the AP exams. So much so that the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual State of College Admissions survey finds that “student performance in college preparatory classes is the most important factor in the admission decision.”

With so much weight riding on these AP exams, wouldn’t it be nice if students had a way to prepare? You know, their own electric guitar. Oh, but wait. They do. Baylor graduate, Karen Tyler started Propel Education Strategies to offer innovative strategies and solutions that guide teacher instruction and increase student outcomes as they prepare for college or career.

But Propel didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t even Karen’s career aspiration when she was a student. After Karen received her undergraduate degree in 2006 with a B.A. in English, she moved to Dallas to pursue graduate studies in humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas. It was while Karen was in graduate school that she worked with several non-profit organizations that provided Texas students with a cash incentive for each qualifying score achieved on an AP exam.

While working with the non-profit organizations, Karen realized that the organizations were doing admirable work with AP students, but there was still a larger group of AP students not being serviced. Karen felt that students and teachers in schools outside of the support area for the financial incentive programs also deserve the benefits of superior classroom instruction and exam-prep materials.

Karen launched Propel in 2014 and has since worked with more than 20,000 students across seven states. Propel offers practice tests to prepare students for AP exams in the courses of AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Calculus and AP U.S. History.

Propel currently contracts with more than 100 consultants from across the U.S. who are responsible for writing original, AP-style questions, editing exam and supplemental materials, developing classroom-ready lessons and training AP teachers. The consultants are both current and former classroom teachers who have personally achieved notable successes with AP students.

Karen feels that there are two very specific components of the Propel business model that set Propel apart from other test-prep companies: 1) Propel works directly with classroom teachers in school districts and does not market to parents or students and 2) Propel provides an evaluation of students’ free response or essay portion of the mock exam that is scored and evaluated by national experts.

Admittedly, Karen is not an educator, which is why she relies so heavily on her corps of consultants and she gives credit to the consultants whom she affectionately refers to as the heart of the organization.

Karen manages Propel with what she calls the PIE method: Plan, Implement and Evaluate. Afterall, what’s considered the latest-and-greatest today may very well be old news tomorrow.

The biggest challenge Karen faces is getting the word out and making school districts aware of services Propel can provide. However, she also has to be cognizant of the districts with limited funding. Karen’s ultimate, long-term goal is to expand beyond seven states and to work with students in all 50 states. She also wants to expand the course offerings to include additional disciplines, especially science. These are big goals, but Karen is up for the challenge.

If you think about it, these may be the good old days and Propel may just be the electric guitar in a field of AP tests.

Sources:
PrincetonReview.com
USNews.Com
CollegeRaptor.com
Blog.Prepscholar.com
Professionals.Collegeboard.org


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.

Rob Curnock, Dub-L Tape

rob-curnock“The desire to better oneself is the most powerful incentive to innovate.”

~Rob Curnock


After a long, hard week there’s nothing like firing up the VCR and pulling out your old home VHS movies for the best throwback movie night ever. Movie snacks…check. Favorite blanket…check. Oh yeah, let the movie binging begin. But then the unimaginable happens. The VCR won’t work.

Once the wailing subsides to a subtle moan, you realize the evening’s not a complete loss. You make a quick dash to the local 24-hour superstore to pick up another VCR. Problem solved.

Wah?

When did the come-as-you-are superstore where you can buy anything at any time stop selling VCRs? What about all of the VHS tapes — Grandma Betty’s 90th birthday party, Beth’s first ballet recital and Uncle Sam’s heart-felt, yet somewhat perplexing rendition of “I Will Always Love You” at last year’s family reunion. Hours and hours of priceless memories recorded on VHS tapes, reduced to nothing more than mere dust collectors cast aside on a shelf.

It’s at this very moment when Rob Curnock at Dub-L Tape is transformed from an ordinary, everyday entrepreneur to an outright superhero. A champion for the disenchanted. A warrior to the defeated. Armed with nothing more than a flash drive and a pretty snazzy UFO this superhero can defeat your dilapidated VCR blues and turn defunct VHS movies into memory-making keepsakes.

Never heard of this guardian to the distraught? We’ll break it down for you.

WHO: Rob Curnock (a.k.a. the superhero) graduated from Baylor in 1981 with a communications degree. After graduation, Rob started his career as a news reporter and sports anchor at a local television station. While working at the television station, Rob introduced central Texas to Dub-L Tape in the back room of his house with $200 and two VCRs. Dub-L Tape is an audio/video production, duplication and conversion company that has evolved drastically through the years as technology has changed. Rob worked double-duty between the television station and his budding business for six years until he was able to expand Dub-L Tape to a stand-alone shop.

WHAT: A big chunk of Dub-L Tape’s current business is converting old films, slides/photos and video/audio tapes to digital formats such as DVD and flash drives. As DVDs are slowly phasing out, Rob is converting more memories to flash drives. But Rob didn’t want to hand customers their precious memories with just a plain ol’ flash drive. He wanted something nice and keepsake-ish. Rob worked with a mechanical engineer and after a couple of rounds of trial and error he created the fabulous UFO (Unidentified Flashdrive Organizer). The UFO is a protective case that will uniquely label, secure and protect almost any make and model of flash drives on the market today. Determined to keep UFO production in America, Rob found a company in Wisconsin that can construct the plastic injection molds that are needed to make the cases. With the UFO design and production successfully under his belt, Rob is currently charging fast-forward after his most difficult obstacle and short-term goal of marketing. Rob has always depended on word-of-mouth to grow his business and that’s proven to be quite a savvy and successful business plan. But Rob is taking a different approach with the UFO. He recently partnered with a company that specializes in marketing and promoting unique products, and he’s optimistic and even excited at the possibilities.

WHEN: Dub-L Tape has been in business since 1985 when Rob started off duplicating VHS tapes. Then in 1997 VHS tapes started phasing out to DVDs and Rob adjusted his business accordingly. As flash drives started to replace DVDs, Rob created a second ancillary business in 2012 called Abundant Supply Company that handles the sale and administration of the UFOs.

WHERE: Dub-L Tape is in Waco (the heart of Texas), Texas.

WHY: Simply put, Rob wants to give customers a quality product and service at a good price. Rob explains, “Contrary to popular belief, I am not my boss. Every customer that walks through the Dub-L Tape doors, is my boss.”

Rob’s biggest fear since day one has been that customers would just stop using Dub-L Tape. Every superhero has his kryptonite. But with Rob’s uncanny super power to save the day just in the nick of time, we think this superhero may just obliterate his kryptonite…one flash drive and UFO at a time.


 

For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.