Danielle Young, Revival Eastside Eatery


Work hard and be nice.

-Danielle Young


What would you like for lunch? If you’re feeling a sandwich, maybe the Weight of Glory or the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Or maybe the Golden Calf burger, but then there’s the Eve salad…

Those who have been to Revival Eastside Eatery on Elm Avenue in Waco are familiar with this unique menu. Revival Eastside Eatery has been around for about sixteen months and has made a big splash with it’s not-so-typical menu names and delicious food.

One would think that successfully opening a restaurant with an outside-the-box menu in an up-and-coming neighborhood the owner would have to be born and bred an entrepreneur. One would sorely be mistaken.

Danielle Young opened Revival Eastside Eatery with her husband, Travis, in the summer of 2019. Originally from North Carolina, Danielle and Travis moved to Waco in 2011 so she could attend Baylor. She received both her master and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Baylor. After falling in love with the city, the two decided to make Waco their home. Danielle soon took a role as Clinical Research Coordinator at Baylor while also seeing patients as a clinical psychologist serving children. Opening a restaurant wasn’t even a blip on their radar. 

Well, it wasn’t until it was.

This self described risk averse, research loving psychologist was simply enjoying life in Waco. She likes to say that Waco just kind of sucks people in after a while.

On one fateful night in 2017 Danielle and Travis were driving around Waco trying to find a place to eat dinner. They wanted to support a local business, but they also wanted something a little on the healthier side. One thing led to another and someone actually uttered the famous last words . . .  How hard could it be to open a restaurant?

The consensus between the two was instead of complaining about the lack of restaurant variety, they instead should do something about it. Afterall, how hard could it be? Danielle and Travis spent the next eighteen months working on a business plan for a restaurant. They evaluated if it was feasible, the kind of costs involved, what the competition would look like and who the customers would be. How hard could it be? Very hard. But the two soon started to dream of what could be.

The dream… a restaurant with unique food that’s fresh, tasty and is Texas-sourced; a place that’s not too fancy and kind of casual; somewhere with exceptional service and reasonably priced menu items. The dream wasn’t novel by any means, but Danielle and Travis felt it was novel for Waco.

The next big, big thing for Danielle and Travis to consider was location. Where would be the best place for their novel-to-Waco eatery? Danielle looked at the development of downtown Waco and felt that it made sense to expand beyond downtown. Elm Avenue was the perfect spot. Lula Jane’s was already an established neighborhood favorite, but there was nothing on Elm like the dream. Elm was deep in history and rich in culture. To Danielle and Travis, Elm was perfect.

They soon agreed that 704 Elm Avenue would be home to the dream. This particular property had been vacant for about ten years. It was previously the Waco Community Baptist Church. As the demo work on the building began, locals immediately flocked to the property to share stories and memories of attending the old church. It became clear that this dream-inspired eatery would also be steeped in that deep Elm history and culture. And what better way to pay tribute than to call the restaurant Revival! More specifically, Revival Eastside Eatery to also acknowledge the up-and-coming East Waco neighborhood. 

Since the building was an old church, the two decided to completely lean into it with the menu. And this is where the Weight of Glory and Technicolor Dreamcoat sandwiches come into play. Other notable mentions are the Golden Calf burger and the Eve and Garden of Eating salads.

This novel-to-Waco eatery became a hit. Word spread and Revival soon became a hot spot for locals and out-of-town folks alike. The eatery even received a nod from Magnolia.

Remember that question… how hard can it be? In less than a year of opening the unthinkable happened. In March 2020, restaurants were in a mandatory shutdown due to Covid-19. From the onset, Danielle and Travis were committed to do what was necessary to keep all of their staff. To say there was an immediate pivot in day-to-day operations is the understatement of a lifetime. At the time of the shutdown, the eatery didn’t even have online ordering. Literally overnight, an online ordering system was developed and “curbside pickup” became the new norm.

With the mindset we’re all in this together, the next task at hand became how to help the community. Families were now at home together. Parents were both working at home as well as teaching their children at home. With that in mind, the idea of Family Meals came into play. Keeping it as easy as possible with an “order today and pick up tomorrow” concept. The benefits of Family Meals were two-fold, not only did this give families room to plan ahead but it also allowed for the eatery to prepare without a significant amount of food waste. The Family Meals soon became a huge hit and ultimately helped carry the restaurant when the dining room was closed.

After the eatery was able to open up the dining room again, Revival continued with Family Meals. While not near as many orders are placed, it’s still a popular menu item.

In effort to be socially conscientious, Revival also made some front-of-the-house adjustments. Instead of counter-service ordering, customers are now seated and ordering is done table side. QR codes are affixed to the tables so customers can view a touchless menu via scan. While the initial implementation of the table-side ordering with QR codes was for social distancing purposes, Danielle likes the process and actually looks for it to continue.

Throughout all of the unexpected ups and downs the past eight months have thrown at Danielle, she continues the day-to-day mindset of work hard and be nice. A mindset that definitely helped make a dream come true.

Q&A

Question submitted by Dr. Boris Nikolaev, Entrepreneurship Professor
The restaurant business is very competitive. Were you aware of the risks when you decided to open a business?

Yes, and people thought we were insane for opening a restaurant. We were aware of the failure rates and did our own research. We learned a few things along the way. We learned some of the common causes for failure are:

  1. Renting and not owning your own space — rent can go up and you have no control
  2. Location. Location. Location.
  3. Underestimating costs

Question submitted by Dr.Peter Klein, Entrepreneurship Department Chair
How have the city’s specific development efforts on Elm Avenue either helped or harmed your business?

With TIF (tax increment financing) the mindset is there are small grants that can help renovate buildings. We were able to get a little bit of money to help redo the facade work. The city took care of new sidewalks. Elm Avenue will be under construction for the next 18 months, so it will be good and bad. Great improvements, but folks will have a hard time getting to the restaurant.

Question submitted by Bradley Settles, student
How do you feel about the current direction of the East Waco development?

We’ve been in business for 16 months. The city is very mindful about development on Elm Avenue. City Center Waco also works with the community, being intentional about development and striving to put the community needs above businesses. 

Question submitted by Dr. Boris Nikolaev, Entrepreneurship Professor
What do you do that sets your business apart from other similar businesses?

We do a really good job of being hospitable and welcoming. We work hard to train our staff. Our customer service is great! We also don’t take ourselves too seriously. We have the mindset of whatever the customer wants, we will make it — a picky eater’s delight!

Question submitted by Gib Reynolds, Director 1845 Incubator
With turnover being so high in this industry, what do you do to take care of your staff?

We started July 2019 and still have four of an original staff of nine. We practice shared tips. With shared tips, our staff takes home somewhere between $16-$18 an hour depending on the day.

Our philosophy is everyone is working hard whether or not the customer sees it. We want to make sure our people are taken care of. The cool thing about being an owner and working on site you get to regularly see your staff and their needs. Loving employees well is something we do differently.

Question submitted by Dr. Boris Nikolaev, Entrepreneurship Professor
If you could do something different on your entrepreneurial journey what would it be?

When we first started we were looking at chefs and actually paid someone to create the  menu and recipe development. We very soon realized that we were investing a lot of money. Two weeks before the Revival grand opening we let the chef go because we didn’t have anything tangible. In the two weeks before opening I redesigned the entire menu. I reworked food costs and sought out Texas-sourced vendors. In hindsight, I would have believed more in myself from the get-go.

Even though Revival isn’t exactly what we thought it would be, we feel it’s even better now. It’s fun to watch what happens when you trust the process and absolutely trust yourself.


For additional outtakes from the interview with Danielle, please visit the Baylor Baugh Center YouTube page.

Outtake 1: https://bit.ly/3o7sGaI
Outtake 2: https://bit.ly/35cA6AD

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

 

Baylor Entrepreneurship Helps Student Business Owners Dream Big with Oso Launch

 

You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem,
or a wrong that you want to right.

If you’re not passionate enough from the start,
you’ll never stick it out.

-Steve Jobs


Dictionary.com defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. To take a leap of faith knowing that risks are unavoidable, substantial and even catastrophic requires a huge amount of passion.

But is passion enough? What if the rainy-day funds run dry or simply weren’t there to begin with? What if a speed bump becomes a bonafide road block? What if a big dream is overshadowed because of a lack of experience and know-how? 

The complexity of risks can be daunting to student business owners and could even change the direction of their journey. Without a doubt, student business owners have an abundance of passion. While that passion is important and absolutely necessary, the risks can be overwhelming when trying to juggle an entrepreneurial spirit with the demands of a collegiate student.

The Entrepreneurship department at Baylor University serves as a bridge-of-sort that helps students with dreams of owning a business become successful entrepreneurs in their own right. The Baylor Entrepreneurship department is dedicated to the study, teaching and practice of new business creation. With more than forty years of experience, the department is an academic leader, consistently ranking as a top-ten program nationwide. 

Realizing that incoming freshmen who aspire to be entrepreneurs are a captive audience for the next four years, it became evident that this was an untapped group that could benefit from the expertise of the Entrepreneurship department. Oso Launch was designed to provide this niche group of incoming freshmen with a program that could provide guidance, mentorship and networking for the next four years. Through Oso Launch, students not only build an entrepreneurial foundation with unique challenges in a learning environment, but they also have the opportunity to raise much-needed capital.

The program is now in its second year and has proven to be an engaging and fun platform for students to network with both peers and alumni who share a common interest in entrepreneurship. Eleven students were chosen to participate in the Fall 2020 Oso Launch freshman cohort. Each student will receive a Spring 2021 semester award of $500 upon completion of required program milestones.

The second-year, sophomore cohort is made up of twelve participants who have continued with the program. The Fall award will be up to $250 matched against capital raised during the semester. The Spring 2021 semester award will be up to $350 matched against capital raised, but is also dependent on the completion of required program milestones.

Three students from the sophomore cohort will be selected as pre-incubator participants. The 1846 Business Incubator was created with the purpose of helping student entrepreneurs develop feasible, sustainable and profitable businesses. The focus of the program is to work with early-stage student businesses through entrepreneurship programming and education, hands-on support from faculty, a network of mentors and office space in the incubator. The Fall award for pre-incubator participants will be up to $250 matched against capital raised during the semester. The Spring 2021 semester award will be up to $500 matched against capital raised. 

Shaun Limbers is the Associate Director for the Baugh Center and also oversees Oso Launch. He explains, “There really isn’t another program like Oso Launch that offers support for entrepreneurial students from the first day they step foot on campus; this is an exceptional program designed with exceptional students in mind.”  

With Oso Launch, Baylor Entrepreneurship helps student business owners turn passion and big dreams into the reality of successful entrepreneurship.


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

A Tour of the Waco Entrepreneurial Ecosystem with Baylor Entrepreneurship

 

Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” A dream, a passion and a deep rooted why are certainly necessary to start a successful business, but how in the world does a Baylor student with dreams of entrepreneurship continue to persevere and get back on the proverbial horse time and time again?

That’s where the Baylor Entrepreneurship department, cloaked in a green and gold cape, swoops in to save the day. The Baylor Entrepreneurship department is dedicated to the study, teaching and practice of new venture creation. The faculty and staff are devoted to encourage, support and help those student business owners who dare to take risks. Who dare to persevere. Who dare to be entrepreneurs. Even if it means stepping outside of the classroom.

Join Baylor Entrepreneurship on a virtual Tour of the Waco Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and explore the outside-of-the-classroom, entrepreneurial resources that are available to Baylor students.

Melissa Pardun of Maker’s Edge Makerspace
Maker’s Edge is a collaborative workspace established with a goal to combine thinking and doing around the idea of offering space, tools, mentors, training and STEM outreach. Maker’s Edge is about getting people to explore things they really wouldn’t be willing to explore on their own. The whole point of coming to a place like Maker’s Edge is that you feel free to fail so you feel free to try again. A partnership with Baylor University allows students to be part of Marker’s Edge for free. 

John Passavant of Startup Waco
Startup Waco exists to serve entrepreneurs. The simple act of walking into Startup Waco expands business owners’ networks. Often when starting a business it’s not what you are doing but who you know can help you get from one step to the next step.

Gib Reynolds of Baylor University 1846 Business Incubator
The 1846 Business Incubator was established with the sole purpose of facilitating student startups. We take Baylor students with raw ideas and give them resources to launch companies before they graduate. Call to Action: if you have an idea, you’re curious about pursuing entrepreneurship, you previously started a company or you’re actively trying to start a company now send an email to Gib_Reynolds@baylor.edu.

Andrew Telep of Baylor University Experiential Libraries Commons (ELC)
Located in the garden level of Moody Library on Baylor Campus, ELC has digital fabrication tools and laser cutters available for use free of charge.

Q&A Session

Q:  John, what is the most exciting thing available for up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Waco?
A:  There’s a lot of opportunity. Waco has unbelievable resources available and provides a great environment to test ideas.

Q:  Melissa, do you have suggestions for introductory projects, things students can try?
A:  When most people come into the space they come in for one thing, usually a class requirement or something like that. They don’t actually have the mindset of “making.” We encourage students to come in and take as many classes as possible. There isn’t a tool available that doesn’t have a training class.

Q:  Gib, what type of businesses have you seen students start?
A:  Baylor students are creative. We’ve had a wide spectrum of ideas. It’s not just one kind of business that works here. Just start something. If there’s something that you are passionate about or interested in, learn by doing. Just do.

Q:  Melissa, how do you balance ambition and school work?
A:  It doesn’t take a lot of time to have a great idea. It takes time to bring the idea to market. Baylor has so many resources, the opportunities will naturally fall into place. Connect with the right people and you can make it happen.

Q:  John, how do you balance ambition and school work?
A:  Allow yourself to be pulled into something rather than being forced into something. The journey starts by taking that one step.

The Baylor Entrepreneurship department is helping to shape the future one dream, one passion and one why at a time.

Visit the Tour of the Waco Entrepreneurial Ecosystems video link at https://bit.ly/32GAeIz.

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

Baylor Entrepreneurship Walks Side By Side with Local, Small Businesses

 

At the stroke of midnight, the ball dropped and 2020 was ushered in with promises of a fresh start and a new beginning. After all, 2020 is a once-a-century year when the first two digits of the year match the second two digits. This is something folks will only see once in a lifetime. That alone makes 2020 a year to remember.

And then there was COVID-19…

COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball. Schools, businesses and churches all felt the sucker punch. Baylor University was no exception. Classes went online, dorms emptied, events were cancelled and engagement programs were put on an indefinite pause. 

The Community Entrepreneurship Program (CEP), managed by the Baylor Entrepreneurship department, is one such program that felt the impact of COVID-19. CEP is a faith-based community entrepreneurship training program developed by Baylor University, hosted by local churches and facilitated by successful executives and entrepreneurs.

Participants in CEP are local, small business owners who simply want to grow their business. The program provides peer-to-peer networking and valuable mentorship, along with training and coaching. CEP utilizes Baylor Entrepreneurship faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors in delivering this best-in-class Baylor content in a non-threatening, caring environment that welcomes small business owners from all backgrounds. 

Denitia Blount of locally owned and operated Oh My Juice is both a Baylor grad and a small-business owner who volunteers as a facilitator for the program. Blount spoke at a Confessions of an Entrepreneur event on campus in 2019 and she explained, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” 

CEP helps small-business owners recognize what they don’t know in bi-weekly meetings, by providing support and one-on-one counseling in areas of accounting, finance and strategy. In March 2020 as COVID-19 hit, CEP was halfway through its Spring 2020 session (with record attendance and a diverse group of small businesses represented). The program was forced to go on an indefinite hiatus with respect to the regular meeting schedule. 

Dr. Peter Klein, Entrepreneurship Department Chair, co wrote a recent article for the LSU Business Review with the sentiment that uncertain circumstances can give businesses an opportunity to improve. The article states that in the end it’s businesses, and not policymakers, that should decide how to best weather COVID-19. 

The Entrepreneurship department, recognizing a strong need to pivot CEP to meet the needs of the small businesses facing life or death business scenarios, reconfigured the program to deliver real time, relevant strategy and information that played a major role in being able to keep a majority of these businesses in operation even through a shutdown. 

Michael Wyatt of Wyatt Brothers Moving was a participant in the spring CEP class. He explained that while the goals for the business didn’t change with COVID-19, they were definitely adjusted. The company has implemented a more go with the flow outlook and adjusted goal timelines to account for some of the unforeseen circumstances.

Shaun Limbers, Associate Director for the Baugh Center, oversees CEP and personally feels it’s a privilege to serve the local, small businesses especially during this very difficult time. He says, “We truly believe Entrepreneurship can be transformative with an ability to positively impact our community both locally and worldwide.”  He continues, “CEP is uniquely positioned to execute that vision on a local level.” 

In the coming weeks, the Baylor Entrepreneurship department will wrap up the spring CEP class. CEP may look a little different going forward, but one thing that is for certain is Baylor Entrepreneurship will continue to walk side by side with local, small businesses.


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

ENT Buzz | Marlene Reed


Marlene Reed, Senior Lecturer, Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation

 

WHO IS MARLENE REED?

I am a proud Baylor graduate. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would end up getting my PhD and teaching at my alma mater. I’ve had the privilege of teaching students and faculty in England, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Zambia and Rwanda. God has blessed me richly!


WHAT DO YOU DO AT BAYLOR?

At Baylor I’ve taught the Business Excellence Scholarship Team (BEST) and Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship. I love teaching these courses. I previously owned a Christian book store and I feel my first-hand experience as a business owner helps me understand problems that managers may run into while operating a business.


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

A funny and kind of weird thing that happened while working in the Entrepreneurship department is the time Mary Abrahams (former Associate Director of the Baugh Center) and I went to Europe to plan the first Entrepreneurship European Experience. Late one night while in Milan, we couldn’t find our way back to our hotel. To make things worse, a drunk young man kept following us telling us he would help us find our way. We finally lost him and wandered around for an hour until we found our hotel.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BAYLOR TRADITION?

I can’t pick just one favorite. I have two — Homecoming and Sing. I think I love Homecoming so much because I get to reconnect with friends from the past. Something that a lot of folks don’t know is I was actually a Baylor Homecoming Queen nominee. Unfortunately, the Asian flu was going around that year, and I got it. After appearing on the football field at halftime, my parents whisked me away to Houston because we had all been asked to leave school if we could. I also love Sing, and I just happen to be on the Sing Faculty Committee.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW ENT MAJOR?

My advice to a new Entrepreneurship major is to enjoy every minute of your time at Baylor and get involved in everything that appeals to you. The time spent at Baylor is so short, and students need to get the very most out of. I certainly did.


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

 

Michael Wyatt, Wyatt Brothers Moving Company

Do things better.

-Michael Wyatt


Michael Wyatt grew up in the small town of Groesbeck, Texas. Like a lot of pre-teens, he took to mowing neighborhood lawns as a relatively easy way to earn a little extra cash. Michael soon developed friendships with his customers, especially the veteran who lived across the street. The two would sit for hours and talk. After graduating highschool, Michael went through the fire academy and became a firefighter in a neighboring town while also working as an EMT in Groesbeck at the Limestone Medical Center.

Michael’s brother, Danny, spent time in the Marines and later worked for a moving company in the Dallas area. Danny spent six months observing the business and running numbers. Michael and Danny would often talk about what it would take for the two brothers to start their own business. Should they…could they…what if… The back and forth went on for a while, then one night in November 2014 over a Texas-style BBQ dinner, Michael’s wife prodded, “You need to either do it, or don’t.”

Michael and Danny did it. Five weeks later Wyatt Brothers Moving Company was a reality, servicing a 500 mile radius from Waco.

The first goal for the new company was simple: find a move. It didn’t take long to find that first move. A customer asked the brothers to move a 1,100 pound safe to a third floor apartment. Let that sink in for just a minute: 1,100 pound safe to a third floor apartment. It took forty minutes, with additional help from the customer, to move the safe. That first move earned Wyatt Brothers $100. Michael describes the move with one word, “Terrible. It was just terrible.”

But hey, you have to start somewhere. With that safe move, the brothers officially met their first business goal. Word of mouth started to speed things up for the brothers. Michael talked with someone at a local apartment complex, which led to a working relationship that helped put Wyatt Brothers at the top of the list for four-sister company complexes.

On one particular job, they were moving a tenant from one building to another within the same complex. A trailer couldn’t be used, so Michael and Danny walked and carried everything from building to building. During the move, Michael noticed a guy standing in a stairway watching their every step. Every…single…step for one and a half hours.

The man finally approached Michael and asked if they were professional movers. He explained that he was with a production company and needed to move some appliances that afternoon to a house in Hubbard. Wyatt Brothers was able to move the appliances, leaving another satisfied customer.

When Michael told his wife the story about the stairway guy, her immediate response was, “I wonder if he was with Fixer Upper?”

A quick YouTube search confirmed that the hard-working brothers did indeed actually move appliances for Fixer Upper. Shortly after, the stairway guy called and asked the brothers to move some furniture. He admitted that it was pretty cool to watch the brothers in action and asked to film them.

On January 15 during the last episode of season one, Wyatt Brothers Moving Company was filmed as the mover for Fixer Upper. This small-town business that was established over a family BBQ dinner was featured in almost every Fixer Upper episode from then on. 

By the time Fixer Upper ended in April 2018, Wyatt Brothers had become a trusted, local name. There was a noticeable trend in repeat customer business. For Michael and Danny it was about establishing a family name legacy and providing stellar customer service with trust and transparency. 

In January of 2020, Michael enrolled in the Community Entrepreneurship Program (CEP), a faith-based community entrepreneurship training program developed by Baylor University. Local churches would host the meetings, while successful executives and entrepreneurs facilitated them. With CEP, Michael was able to network with other local, small-business owners as well as collect some significant take-aways in accounting, financing and marketing strategy.

The ultimate goal was to grow Wyatt Brothers, but to also keep the business small. During 2020 the brothers planned to bring on an additional three full-time movers and two part-time movers. But in March 2020 everything took a wonky turn with Covid-19 stay-home orders. 

While business did slow down a bit during that time, people were still moving. However, a lot of folks were working from home and had extra time to pack and move belongings without assistance. Normally in the spring, Wyatt Brothers would book out four weeks in advance. For 2020, it was closer to two weeks. 

As a medic, Michael knows the importance of PPE (personal protective equipment). With that in mind, masks became part of the Wyatt Brothers standard uniform. Some customers were initially uncomfortable with allowing a masked stranger into their home. To squash some of those fears, Michael now “meets” new customers via Zoom meetings and Facetime prior to on-site moves. 

Goals for the business didn’t change, but they were adjusted. With a go with the flow outlook, timelines were shifted to account for some of the unforeseen circumstances. A partnership was also added to the business plan. To enhance the overall customer experience, Wyatt Brothers partnered with Neat as a Pin to provide customers with additional packing, cleaning, unpacking and organizing services.

Michael prides himself on operating a personable company. From mowing to moving, he strives to do things better… no matter what’s thrown at him.


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

 

ENT Buzz | Priscilla James


 

Priscilla James, Program Manager John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise

 

WHO IS PRISCILLA JAMES?

I am a small-business owner from Houston. In 2018 I received a Baylor MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. My goal was to use my new-found, entrepreneurship know-how to grow my business, Priscilla’s Joyful Events. I also thought that my new business savviness would come in handy with the business I co-founded with my mom, Hephzibah Online Evangelistic Ministries. I stay busy. In my downtime I like to relax with my Chiweenie, Jack. He recently learned to tap a bell to go outside and he’s also learning to jump on command. Should I nickname him Jumping Jack?


WHAT DO YOU DO AT BAYLOR?

I’ve now been on staff at Baylor for two years as the program manager in the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise. I actually started working at Baylor just two days after graduating with my MBA. My main focus as program manager is to manage and develop the Baylor New Venture Competition. I really enjoy networking with successful business leaders and connecting them with young entrepreneurs. I like to think I have a small part in helping dreams become a reality for these budding entrepreneurs.


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

One word…treats! Deana Steele makes the best treats ever. We can always count on Deana to bake birthday goodies every month. She even bakes between celebrations. Deana really doesn’t need a special occasion to bake. The entrepreneurship-15 may become a real thing.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BAYLOR TRADITION?

I love the sound of the McLane Carillon at Pat Neff Hall! I smile every time I hear the bells toll. I especially enjoy hymns and Christmas carols during the holidays. 


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW ENT MAJOR?

The folks in the Entrepreneurship department can be a great source of advice and support. Getting to know the faculty and staff in the Entrepreneurship department can certainly open the door for a deeper learning experience.


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

 

Austin & Julia Meek, Pokey O’s

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

-Austin Meek


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

Eric Guel, Eric Guel Photography


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

whatever vocation is available to them.”

-Eric Guel


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Madi Smyser, Madi’s Munchies

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

-Madi Smyser


Me want cookie! ~ Cookie Monster

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

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

Yes, please!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The challenge was accepted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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


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