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/.

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/.

 

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/

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/

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/.

 

 

Tierra Barber & Denitia Blount, Oh My Juice

tierra-barbar-_-denitia-blount

“We see that there’s a real need for our products,
so that drives us to work harder to stay around as long as we can.”

Tierra Barber


We are living large in America. The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than one-third of US adults are obese. We all know it takes regular physical activity and a healthy diet to tackle this weighty nemesis.

Physical activity is easy. It can be anything from walking, biking, swimming or even Prancercise if you’re so inclined. Eating healthy may be a bit trickier, and in some cases just downright ugh-inducing. Basically, we should aim for a rainbow on our plates. What that means is the more colorful fruits and veggies we have on our plate, the better.

But what if you could drink your rainbow? Or what if you could eat your rainbow…from a bowl…with a spoon? Well, that would definitely bring a splash of fun to the fight.

Baylor grads Denitia Blount and Tierra Barber firmly believe that your rainbow can indeed be fun, tasty and nutritious. And anyone who has had an acai bowl or a cold-pressed juice from Denitia and Tierra’s Oh My Juice (OMJ) knows that this dynamic duo means business. Colorful, healthy and deliciously-fun business.

OMJ is a  #WACOTOWN eatery that offers juices, smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy treats. All menu items are made to order with fresh ingredients with no added sugars or preservatives. Nothing is prepackaged or processed. The end result is the ultimate rainbow of healthy goodness.

But the tale of Denitia and Tierra is one of two very distinctly different journeys that came together at one very gloriously yummy final destination. While Denitia and Tierra both ran track for Baylor, their paths never actually crossed on campus. Denitia majored in education and graduated in 1988, while Tierra majored in health science studies and wrapped up her MSEd in exercise physiology in 2004.

These two Baylor grads actually met in Arizona at the 2014 Fiesta Bowl where Baylor took on UCF. The outcome of the game itself was ultimately not-so-great for Baylor football fans, but for Wacoans who love a yummy healthy-food alternative…the game was definitely something to celebrate.

When Denitia and Tierra met they realized there was a shared passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As former athletes, they certainly have the know-how for physical activity. But there was also a mutual zeal for healthy eating, specifically juicing. It was then and there that these two decided they were going to bring Waco its first juice bar.

The juicing duo first introduced Waco to OMJ by selling cold-pressed juices from a vendor booth at the popular Waco Downtown Farmers Market (the Market). The Market is open from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm every Saturday morning and features locally-grown produce, cooking demos, live music and awesome artisan vendors. The Market is the place to be on a Saturday morning in Waco.

If you think about it, launching OMJ at the Market was an act of pure brilliance. Absolute, unadulterated, magnificent brilliance. What better place to launch a product line made up of local, fresh ingredients than a local, hot-spot farmers market?

A perfect storm is a rare phenomenon where a collection of circumstances come together in a way the result is of such magnitude it’s beyond description. Let this sink in for a minute. You have two passionate Baylor grads with entrepreneurial hearts…a desire to be healthy and to help others be healthy…a yummy product line…a high-profile retail location that promotes local, home-grown produce… Pretty close to the perfect storm, but in a marvelous, non-weather kind of way.

Initially, Denitia and Tierra set out to simply survive. Neither had much business experience and they really didn’t know exactly what to expect. The goal was to build a large enough customer base to survive a year. But they dug in and with a little trial and error they figured out what worked well for OMJ. The duo also reached out to other local Waco businesses for guidance, mentorship and support. Denitia explains, “This venture would have been nearly impossible without the help of a lot of talented people.”

For the next year and a half, the juicing aficionados provided Market goers with a product that was not only unique to Waco, but it was also fresh, healthy and indisputably delicious. As this small, cold-pressed juice operation set up at the Market to gauge public interest, it didn’t take long for OMJ to become a popular Market stop.

An all-natural, Saturday morning juice fix became a must-have for many Market goers. But soon once a week just wasn’t enough and eventually those who partook in the deliciously juiced delicacies were wanting more. And they wanted it every day. So, when Denitia and Tierra had the chance to move into a downtown, store-front location they jumped at the opportunity.

The new brick and mortar location kept the duo in the heart of downtown Waco in the popular River Square Center. This was a game changer though. When customers only had access to OMJ once a week at the Market, they could be a bit more forgiving. Now that OMJ had somewhat of a cult following with everyday access, the pressure was on.

The cool thing is these two juicing dynamos didn’t falter. Not even a bit. They successfully navigated the array of industry, state and local regulations for juice bars. And what started out in a Market vendor booth with two passionate entrepreneurs is now a store front with a staff of twelve. All the while, they continued to put out consistently delicious smoothies, salads ‘n such’ to the delight of their customers.

The acai bowls have hands-down been the most popular item at the store front. Especially, the Berry Blend (acai, berries and apple juice) and the Nutty Coco Bowl (acai, almond milk, cacao and banana). They’re oh-my-goodness delicious!

Regular Market goers needn’t worry though. OMJ is still at the Market on Saturday mornings providing fan-faves like Fruit of the Spirit (pineapple, apple, kiwi, orange, lemon and lime) and Hulke (apple, cucumber, celery, parsley, lime, spinach, lemon and ginger).

A recent post on the OMJ Facebook page says it best, “Because when you stop and look around, life is pretty amazing.”

Without a doubt, OMJ is adding a sparkle and energy to downtown Waco…one colorful, amazing  juice at a time.


 

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

 

 

Andy Wiltz, Woof’s Play & Stay

andy-wiltz

“If your heart isn’t in your project,
the project isn’t going to succeed.”

~Andy Wiltz


Roger Caras once said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

Dog owners everywhere wholeheartedly agree that there’s nothing quite like coming home after a long day to be greeted with hap-hazard, knock-you-over tail wags and slobbery, you’re-finally-home kisses. Dogs become our companions, our confidants and…and well, they become our best friends. There have even been studies that suggest that dog owners tend to look like their dogs. Now to be completely honest, that’s not exactly good news for the owners of a wrinkly shar pei or a  frowning and somewhat grumpy-looking bulldog. Nonetheless, dogs become part of the family.

And just like you wouldn’t take your human-form loved ones to just any care facility or salon, you wouldn’t take Spot and Princess to a shabby, hole-in-the-wall either. And that’s exactly what Andy Wiltz was counting on when he purchased Woof’s Play & Stay in Kansas City.

Andy grew up in Kansas and had always aspired to someday be his own boss. Growing up with in a family of entrepreneurs, Andy knew entrepreneurship was in his blood. He double majored in entrepreneurship and real estate finance at Baylor, and after graduation accepted a position with the global consulting firm Accenture. He spent more than ten years in the Change Management / Strategy practice, initially in the Accenture New York City office, then South Africa, the Philippines and finally back in the US.

In November 2014 Andy received a stellar annual review, but he realized it was time to be his own boss. Andy had been consistently contributing to a savings account with the ultimate goal of either starting his own business or buying an existing business. He decided to purchase the assets of a business that was closing and continue the operations under his own name. Enter Woof’s Play & Stay.

Woof’s Play & Stay is a family-owned doggy daycare, dog boarding and dog grooming facility. The website states,

As dog lovers, our commitment is to your dog’s health, well being and happiness.
We take pride in the trust you place in us to care for your friend, companion,
and beloved family member.

Andy and his team get it. They really get it. They get that it is completely acceptable and not weird at all for a dog owner to have two-sided conversations with Spot or to dress Princess up in ridiculously, over-priced accessories or to ask for a “doggy” bag and literally mean it. They just get it.

Going from a global consulting firm to a doggy daycare wasn’t easy, but Andy quickly realized that a willingness to get out of one’s comfort zone is one of the biggest contributing factors to ultimate success. He learned that doing something new and unfamiliar is always an opportunity to learn.

Andy started off by setting goals. His initial goal for Woof’s Play & Stay was to simply maintain the revenue the previous owners experienced, with the expectation of a modest growth. But he soon realized that there was actually a lot of room for growth in the company. So, Andy expanded the goals and set more extreme weekly and monthly goals. For Andy, the process of setting and meeting goals is never complete. It’s always an ongoing process.

One critical component to meeting those extreme goals was having the right team in place. Andy inherited a staff when he purchased Woof’s Play & Stay and he worked tirelessly to train each team member to do the best possible job he/she could do. His philosophy is he would much rather help develop someone to do a better job than to have to let someone go. Andy’s methods have paid off since he’s experienced very little turnover.

There are also a few regulations that Andy has to abide by. Every state regulates dog daycare and boarding facilities differently. For Kansas, he had to acquire a license to run the facility and he has to adhere to common-sense measures to ensure the safety of the dogs.

But the real challenge isn’t at the state level. It’s at the federal level. Andy is concerned that the federal push to increase minimum wage will hurt his business, as well as other local small businesses. Andy doesn’t currently pay his team minimum wage, but instead gives raises when he can. He is concerned that a mandatory increase in minimum wage to $12 or even $15 will wipe out his profits and take away incentives to add additional locations.

For the time being, Andy will continue to spend most of his days greeting customers and dogs at the Woof’s Play & Stay front desk, taking care of office work and making sure that his 22 team members are keeping the doggy guests safe and happy. All it takes is a quick look at the Woof’s Play and Stay Facebook page or Jameson’s dog days of summer video to see that the tail-wagging visitors are quite happy when they visit Woof’s.

Two paws up to Woof’s Play and Stay for doing a dog-gone good job at taking care of man’s best friend.


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

 

Clay Clark, TrackSculptures.com

Clay-Clark

“Absolutely the biggest contributor to my success is
I realized that I am an entrepreneur at heart.”

~Clay Clark


Don’t you just love walking into a room and noticing a wall piece that only a select few will actually understand the significance and you just happen to be one of those few? For example, not every Baylor graduate will understand a framed photo of a dancing bear circa 1996. And not every football fan will appreciate a framed Dallas Cowboy number 22 jersey.

After noticing the anything-but-ordinary adornment, you quickly size up the room. You make a mental note of the telltale eye sparkle of someone who gets it. There’s a mutual head nod as if you’re members of an exclusive, secret society.

Clay Clark understands the passion, the spirit and the loyalty one can experience as a member of these elite societies. He just happens to be part of a unique society of enthusiasts who hold a deep-rooted appreciation for race tracks from around the world.

This Baylor grad with an MBA from Acton is the brain-child behind TrackSculptures.com, an e-commerce, niche company catering specifically to motorsports fans. TrackSculptures.com manufactures and sells wall-piece art that replicates more than 650 different race tracks from around the world.

Clay explains, “Most people don’t get it when they see our products.” He continues, “We make products that only our customers can understand and fully appreciate it.”

Ever since he was a teenager, Clay has had a fascination with fast cars, specifically Formula 1. And while working as a product manager at BuildASign.com, Clay also developed a passion for e-commerce. It was then that he realized that the two passions didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Clay combined his experience in manufacturing and internet marketing from BuildASign.com with his passion for motorsport to create TrackDecals.com, an e-commerce business specializing in automotive race track and road course decals and stickers.

The initial goal was to sell just one product to just one customer. Specifically, the customer had to be a stranger. The day after TrackDecals.com was launched, Clay made his first business transaction. Since that very first decal sale, this just-for-fun, side gig has grown into a bonafide revenue building, e-commerce success that eventually expanded to what is now known as TrackSculptures.com.

The website boasts that there are more than 600 crafted wooden sculptures of race tracks and road courses from all around the world. And then there are also wood murals, art prints and decals. Racing fans are like the proverbial “kid in a candy store” when visiting this website.

To Clay, it’s all about fulfilling a dream and living out a passion. He explains, “It really makes me happy to produce a product that I would want to buy myself, as a motorhead.”

Clay infiltrated an entire underground society by simply creating really cool art pieces that he would want to buy for himself. He found a niche with an unmet need and he found a way to meet that need. That’s ingenious entrepreneurship.


 

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