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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Aggie entrepreneurs pitch business ventures to seek mentorship from industry veterans

Finance seniors Ryan Cash and Donnie Walker pitch their business model in hopes to seek guidance from established entrepreneurs. 
Photo by Nikita Redkar.
Finance seniors Ryan Cash and Donnie Walker pitch their business model in hopes to seek guidance from established entrepreneurs.  Photo by Nikita Redkar.

While dreaming up a business idea is one thing, implementing visions into reality is an entirely different feat.
Startup Aggieland, a collaborative community designed to help student entrepreneurs with existing or developing business projects, is offering 24 student-run companies a resident-entrepreneur membership into its program. They will have access to free webhosting, furnished office space and mentoring from industry experts. But the program isn’t granting access to just anyone. Groups were officially chosen on Friday with specific criteria in mind.
Chuck Hinton, chief mentor with Startup Aggieland, said they are looking for passionate students with promising ideas.
“Some come to the platform with only a hammer and screwdriver when you need the whole toolbox,” Hinton said. “As a mentor, it’s my job to help young entrepreneurs fill their toolbox in order to give them what they need to build their business model.”
Candidates were assigned a time slot in which to present their individual or team projects to a panel of Startup Aggieland faculty and mentors. Many of them could be seen nervously pacing back and forth and meticulously rehearsing their pitches. From financing and functionality to possible competition, candidates had presented all aspects of their business and its market. At the end of their presentation, they fielded stimulating, open-ended questions from the panel.
Finance senior Donnie Walker’s business was among 60 hopeful candidates vying for a residence entrepreneurship within Startup Aggieland. Knowing the stakes are high, Walker said the atmosphere demands precision, assurance, but most importantly passion.
“While many of us know the chances of survival for new business projects are uncertain, the life-long bond we have cultivated with our team gives us hope when embarking on this challenging journey.” Walker said.
The 24 selected business projects anticipate receiving not only exceptional mentoring, but also frequent customer interactions and chances to receive product validation.
“Students will be assigned to talk to ten potential customers,” Hinton said. “They need to get answers and find out if their is idea worthy or not. What are the channels? How will you make your product? How much will it cost?”
Startup Aggieland assistant director and executive professor Don Lewis said he is passionate about initiating entrepreneurship at Texas A&M. The mentors and resources provide for an unbeatable learning experience.
“We’re bringing in mentors who have had successes and failures, but more importantly experience,” Lewis said, “They can share that experience with the students, which would help students emulate their success or prevent them from making similar mistakes.”
Walker has been active within Startup Aggieland for a while, and is now looking to get more involved. More importantly, he aims to graduate with polished entrepreneurial objectives in hand.
“As a student entrepreneur, it’s tough starting a business while balancing academics and a social lifestyle,” Walker said. “However, having success in these competitions is an incredible feeling. Pursuing your passion is well worth the coffee-fueled, hair grasping all-nighters.”

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