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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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Entrepreneurial dreams come to life

Agriculture+Economics+students+present+their+projects+to+business+experts+at+annual+symposium%2C+Tuesday.
Photo by Courtesy

Agriculture Economics students present their projects to business experts at annual symposium, Tuesday.

At the annual Goddard Foundation Entrepreneurial Dreams Symposium, students showed off their real-world-ready business plans created in the agribusiness entrepreneurship program.
Participating students take the two-part course AGEC 424/425, where they plan their business proposals and present them to expert mentors. In February, students were critiqued in a two-part event where business mentors provided tips on how to make their business ideas better. On Tuesday, students presented their projects on detailed posters in a round robin showcase at the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM Equine Complex.
Ed Rister, professor and associate head of agricultural economics, teaches the course that puts on the symposium. According to Rister, students who finish the 424 portion of the course are known as ‘grinders’ while students who finish the 425 portion are known as ‘survivors.’ At the end of the program, graduates from the programs are awarded with special survivor ribbons which permit them come back and help analyze other student’s proposals.
“It’s been an amazing event so far, from all the folks that have flown in all over the country to be here, to spend time and interact with our students,” Rister said. “The comments we’re seeing this year from our former students and employers are that these are the best posters, and the best engagement thus far and we’ve been this business plan competition for 20 plus years now, and every year it happens it just steps up another notch.”
Merritt Weeks is the assistant program director in the agriculture economics department and helped coordinate the event.
“Students that have endured the rigors of the first semester truly want to learn and you can just see the commitment throughout, where they stick together they endure long nights, and in the end it really just becomes a community of entrepreneurs as they come together,” Weeks said.
Some of the students, including agricultural economics senior Benjamin Billings, were aiming to make their projects a reality. Billings drew on the landscaping knowledge he’s gained from his family’s business in Cypress and now looks to take his own project, Texas Ranchscape, back to his roots.
“This is a business I am seriously intrigued on starting after I graduate in May, and when I was faced with this project, I knew right away that I was going to do, as I [had] this idea with my brother Fred two years ago,” Billings said.
Billing’s business plan focuses on ponds, roads and land clearing, as it is developed under his family’s company, Buds & Blossoms, which focuses on landscape and nursery services.
“I’ve put a lot of time into this class, but the thing I offer to others is don’t be scared to jump into something like this, put your best foot forward as Dr. Rister will truly develop you into the business world if you’re willing to follow and give in,” Billings said.
Another project set to get off the ground is a car wash called Shimmer Lane designed by agriculture economics senior Caden Eary. Eary is aiming to take his efforts back home to Temple, TX where he said he hopes to thrive in the car detailing industry.
“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to work for myself,” Eary said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was younger and I don’t want to have to work my whole life. … I’ve researched into lower management businesses to where I could keep opening up business after business while still making decent money, [and] I’ve came across the car wash industry.”
Earie’s next plans include graduating in December then finding investors willing to buy into his business.
“We’ve been really fortunate to have this class from Dr. Rister, especially for someone that looks to go into the industry or the business side,” Earie said. “It’s really beneficial, because to see how feasible the business structure is, its truly rewarding.”
Weeks said all 29 students that survived both courses and presented their projects to the group of business experts and employers at the symposium will receive some form of scholarship money for their efforts.
The majority of the scholarships awarded are being provided by the Corrigan-Goddard Foundation, which hosted the event.
“Anyone that wants to work in any managerial position, financial position or any firm or corporation should really look into taking this class,” Eary said. “It’s incredible the people that [Rister] connects you with, not even in terms of just opening up a business, but [possibly] receiving a job offer somewhere.”

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