Crews News

The Crews Center for Entrepreneurship 'opened doors' to aspiring entrepreneurs

By Lois Charm

The University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship hosted an open house on Sept. 10 to educate students on available resources to support their entrepreneurial goals.

Over 40 individuals gathered which included current UofM students, community supporters and advisory council members to hear about programs offered. Current UofM students had an opportunity to hear and learn from their peers.

Bre Carter, 23, a business and marketing senior, said the event was beneficial for students like her, who hope to see their entrepreneurial aspirations come to life.

"I appreciated how welcoming staff was and it seems like the Crews Center would be a great opportunity for me because I'm an up-and-coming entrepreneur in the cosmetology and fashion industries."

A panel of four local entrepreneurs also spoke about the realistic expectations aspiring entrepreneurs should have in order to succeed.

"Think about the problem you're trying to solve and structure your solution in a business model," said Venki Mandapati, panelist and co-founder of Careerquo.

The Crews Center for Entrepreneurship offers the following:

  • A Residency Program for Student Entrepreneurs
  • Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO)
  • ImagineU Summer Internship
  • Fast Pitch Competitions

The panel also described how participating in Crews Center programs pushed them more than they anticipated as entrepreneurs.

"This place is a catalyst for believing in all that your mind can do," said Michelle Miles, panelist and founder of MIMOMA.

To keep this momentum going, programs like CEO have been preparing to bring students innovative learning objectives.

"This academic year we're going to be focusing on aspects of entrepreneurship such as customer discovery and the lean canvas; skills that are foundational for a burgeoning entrepreneur to grow and prosper," said Isaiah Allenlundy, vice president of CEO.

With the turnout of this semester's open house, it appears that the Crews Center is on its way to developing more successful entrepreneurs in Memphis' business landscape.

To learn more about the Crews Center, contact Lisa Threadgill @ lthrdgll@memphis.edu.


Entrepreneur Spotlight: UofM Alumna Carolyn Chism-Hardy

By Paula Anderson

As a serial entrepreneur, Carolyn Hardy used her corporate experience to prepare for the success she has received in male dominated business ventures.

The UofM alumna received her undergraduate degree in accounting and her MBA in management from the University. Her financial understanding of numbers has proved to be her most valuable asset in business.

According to Hardy, in 2006 she purchased Coors Brewery Memphis facility.  At the time, she was the vice-president and plant manager. When she found out the facility was closing, she decided to do research to purchase the facility.

"For three months, I developed a business plan and researched the cost factors before I revealed my intentions," said Hardy.

Although she was successful with the purchase, there was pushback from the former COO of the company. During the process, she had to learn how to manage relationships in a different way, which she described as the "Art of War."

This experience ultimately prepared Hardy for her next business endeavor. She entered another space that is non-traditional for a woman business owner - transloading.

However, before taking the plunge, she did research and conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis about the project.

"I had to do a proof of concept to test out the business idea," Hardy said. 

As the business venture developed, she was able to start generating revenue and entered into a business agreement with other companies.

As a leader, philanthropist, businesswoman and mother, Hardy decided to capture all of her moments in a book - "Look Up - Five Principles of Intentional Leadership." She shares words of advice and wisdom about leadership, communication and entrepreneurship. Her book officially launched in 2018.

Recently, she shared her book with the Tarik Black Foundation (™) and the students received golden nuggets on various chapters. Two of their favorite chapters were "Don't Eat Excuses for Breakfast and Don't Leave Dead Bodies."

But, she also emphasized building relationships and making the right impression. "How to get people to remember you?," said Hardy.

As a serial entrepreneur, she is always working on other business ideas. Her latest product is a new beverage called HTWO and Hydrolite that will help with endurance and recovery,

Hardy said, "Hydrolyte helps individuals recover from a night on the town because it is infused with electrolytes." The second product called HTWO can help with endurance from sports and workouts.

"It also helps with patients after chemotherapy treatment," added Hardy.

After years of experience, she shares this advice to student entrepreneurs -- "Follow your dreams, create a 3-5 year plan, and grow your business to a healthy place."


ImagineU Program Kicks Off for Students Interested in Entrepreneurship

By Paula Anderson

The 2019 ImagineU program kicked off on May 20 at the Memphis College of Art. An orientation and crawfish boil was held for students to learn about the program goals and expectations.

"You will learn the entrepreneurial mindset and how to think like a maverick and not a rebel," said Mike Hoffmeyer, Crews Center director.ImagineU Personality Assessment group photo

For 12 weeks, each student will learn how to start a business, build a team, develop a pricing model and collaborate in an entrepreneurial environment.

On Wednesday, May 29, cohorts had an opportunity to do a personality assessment which served as the basis for understanding how to form a team. Amy Ware, director of career services at Christian Brothers University (CBU), used the Myers-Briggs assessment to help cohorts understand themselves and how well they work with others. The initial assessment divided the students into extroverts (E's) and introverts (I's).

"I find the Myers-Briggs personality assessment exercise helps people better understand who they are and why they approach life like they do," said Bryan Barringer, serial entrepreneur and entrepreneur-in-residence.

"When you know more about yourself in this regard, you can begin to understand your impact on others. And further, you can begin to understand how best to work with others based on the various character traits."

Ware divided the students into groups of E's and I's and they answered questions to better understand each others personality traits.

The personality assessment helps to assign students into teams for the program.

"The personality test helped shed light on who I am and taught me to appreciate my personality. Learning about myself and the reasons why I do (things) greatly increased my confidence in myself," said Oscar P. Enyang, LeMoyne-Owen College student.

"(It) helped identify my weak points in character and enabled me to concentrate on improving them. After discovering the flaws in my personality, I set out to work on them so as to become a more relatable person with other personalities."

Throughout the exercise, students found out if they were thinkers (T), feelers (F), judgers (J) perceivers (P), sensors (S) and/or intuitive (N).

"I feel as if it validated the notions I've already had about myself, and reading the descriptions of other personality types made me understand why I sometimes clashed with them," said Chloe Elise McNeil, UofM student. "I definitely think the assessment will be a valuable tool in creating really good team chemistry and it'll allow us to utilize everyone to their full potential."

Amy WareAs each cohort worked in groups, they learned more about themselves and how to interact with the other cohorts.

"When taking the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, I was beyond impressed at the results and it was surprising. The assessment was creepily accurate and described me without error," said R. J. Haywood, Visible Music College student

"In this program, it will help me tap into my true self without feeling like I have nothing to offer because I believe being different allows you to see the world, values and life in a different perspective and you will have always have something special to offer."

At the end of the session, students wrote their personality assessments on a white board identifying themselves with four letters like ENFP, INTP and ESTJ.

"After taking the test for the second time, I was reminded on my personality type, ENTJ which is considered 'the Commander.' With this type being an extrovert, I feel that I'm able to offer open communication, honesty and assertiveness or structure to my team. Now knowing my blind spots, I am aware when to take a step back and allow others to take the lead and just offer a helping hand when needed," said Natasha Fountain, Southwest Tennessee Community College student.



EE Logo

A Publication of the UofM Crews Center for Entrepreneurship

Spring 2019 Edition

Compass/ImagineU Feature Story

By Paula Anderson

The Compass Team

Pictured: Ryan Pierce, Isaiah Reece Allen Lundy, Joe Mvula and Luiz Saucedo

Teamwork is just one of the skills you will learn while working on a business idea. Students from the University of Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen College collaborated to develop a business concept to help homeowners handle service calls related to electricity, heating, air conditioning and plumbing during the ImagineU summer internship program in 2018.

Ryan Pierce, Luiz Saucedo, Joe Mvula and Isaiah Reece Allen Lundy are all undergraduate students pursuing academic degrees, but each is focused on entrepreneurship as their career path.

During the ImagineU internship experience, they teamed up to work on a business concept that originally focused on lawn care services.

Pierce said, "Our company began as a lawn care service that donated a substantial amount of its revenue to non-profit organizations that worked to support lower income communities. Through continued research we found that residents had home maintenance issues that spanned far beyond just lawn care, so we decided to pivot. Our company today offers more services, addresses home-care needs faster, and provides a Launchpad for newcomers in the industry to create their own businesses."

The team learned about customer discovery, revenue structures, customer segments, and channels while developing a business concept.

Each team member has a specific role in the company, Compass. Pierce, a political science and economic major, provides leadership to the team as the chief executive officer. His goal is to ensure the business concept is progressing in the right direction.

Luiz Saucedo, international business major and student of the UofM said, " My role is to develop our marketing strategy, so we can reach our target audience and customers."

We are going to reach out to people who are electricians, plumbers and heating and air conditioning technicians.

As a student in the ImagineU program, Saucedo learned communication skills and customer discovery.

Saucedo said, "We plan to use Facebook ®, Instagram, Twitter ® and Snapchat ® to reach our customers and set-up a website."

Joe Mvula, mathematics major and student at LeMoyne-Owen College said, "We are trying to come up with an on demand concept for homeowners to schedule services while away from home and use a geolocation technology to track when the technician is coming."

According Mvula, ImagineU shifted his thinking from a job to becoming an entrepreneur. Mvula said,"I thought I was going to work for Wall Street until I changed my mindset about creating opportunities for others and not just seeking opportunities."

Isaiah Reece Allen Lundy, finance major and UofM student said, "My role in the company is to handle the cost structure for Compass. Our business model consists of a subscription model for $100.00 for customers to purchase residential services and a 5 percent transaction fee."

As the team continues to develop their business model, they will be participating in the Delta I-fund accelerator program for 12 weeks this semester.

The Classic is more than just a football game; it is a celebration!

Pictured: Fred Jones

By Paula Anderson

Fred Jones

It has been 30 years since the unique concept of merging football and entertainment into one weekend celebration for alumni from Tennessee State University (TSU) and Jackson State University (JSU) came into existence.

Fred Jones, founder of Summitt Management Corporation said, "The Classic was created to allow both schools to bring alumni together to enjoy football."

Both schools tried to host football games in Memphis on their own. But, the business model to merge sports and entertainment was more successful according to Jones.

"The game is the magnet, but the entertainment makes the entire event stand out," said Jones.

"Each year over 50,000 people gather at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to watch (TSU) and (JSU) football teams during the annual Southern Heritage Class(SHC), which is presented by FedEx," added Jones.

Alumni can also expect concerts before the game featuring artists like Gladys Knight, Jeffrey Osborne, Charlie Wilson and MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly.

"There's also a parade, fashion show, coaches luncheon and more," said Jones.

Another highlight of the game is the tailgating experience. Before the game, over 10,000 people converge upon Tiger Lane/Fairgrounds with tents, barbecue grills and music.

"The Classic Tailgate started out small, but quickly grew to be a big deal. Each year, we have over 500 tailgating spots, and they sell out fast. The Classic is all about Memphis, and we plan to continue that tradition," added Jones.

As an entrepreneur, Jones started his journey in 1971 when he left a local job and joined Isaac Hayes to travel with him. He booked artists such as The Isley Brothers, Stephanie Mills, Luther Vandross, Prince, Usher and many more to Memphis.

When I planned the Classic in 1989, there were no social media platforms, internet or email. I only had one sponsor the first year, stated Jones.

His legacy will impact generations to come and he offers these words of advice to new entrepreneurs.

"Build relationships, conduct research and believe in yourself".

To learn more about the Classic, visit the website @ www.southernheritageclassic.com.

Content Creation Lab

By Bryan Barringer

C3PO - Crews Content Creation & Production Office

We are excited to announce that the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship now offers a lab just for creating media content for your entrepreneurial needs. With have a new camera, lighting gear and media production machines, you will now be able create a variety of video and audio content customized for your specific purposes.

For a business to thrive, it needs customers. To attract customers, a company needs to promote awareness. In today's world, there are few economical channels to promote a business better than through social media. Recording short videos and producing compelling content is a great way to engage potential customers. Vlogs and Podcasts are tried and true methods for gaining followers and increasing your influencer rating. And with more followers, comes more revenue streams.

Our intent with this new resource lab is to provide quality gear for the UofM students and faculty to create media content to support their business and to spread awareness of their business-related missions. The lab is available for any student-founded business during our normal office hours.

Contact Bryan Barringer at bbrrnger@memphis.edu for a tutorial session.

Entrepreneur Highlight - Isaiah "Ziggy" Reece Allen Lundy

Business resources are flourishing in Memphis

By Paula Anderson

Courtesy Photo: Epicenter Team

Epicenter Team

Starting a new business is a huge risk, but it is also an opportunity to create a path of independence and financial wealth for yourself and the next generation.

Over the last few years, Memphis has been sounding the alarm about how to grow minority and women-owned businesses. While statistics show 20 percent of small businesses fail in the first year, a local nonprofit organization, Epicenter, is working with local entrepreneurs to build, grow and sustain their businesses.

"As a hub organization, Epicenter strategically connects and expands the network of support for all entrepreneurs in the Memphis region. We pilot bold, new solutions and collaborate with partners to ensure entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to launch and thrive locally," said Regina Ann Campbell, chief program officer for Epicenter.

Located in the Cooper-Young District, one of the resources Epicenter provides is co-working space for business owners. Entrepreneurs can purchase a variety of membership plans access to a shared workspace, traditional office amenities, and ample opportunities to meet and collaborate with each other.

Campbell said that entrepreneurs looking for resources like access to capital, talent, mentoring, or technology can fill out an initial form on Epicenter's website. An Epicenter team member will then followup to connect the entrepreneur to a local partner, program or resource.

Pathway Lending is one of Epicenter's partners that offers access to capital and technical assistance to entrepreneurs.

Travis Hughes, Vice-President of Lending, works with entrepreneurs who need capital for their business.

Hughes said, "We are ecstatic about our partnership with the Epicenter. In the six months of being their primary funding partner, we've lent out close to $3 million dollars and provided hundreds of hours in technical assistance to Memphis small business owners. As the VP of Lending for the West TN area, it's my privilege to help business owners secure financing, work with communal partners on economic development strategies and help supervise the Memphis Small Business Opportunity Loan Fund."

The funding for entrepreneurs was very helpful for Tanocha Thedford, founder of Big Momma's and Granny's Catering. She attended one of the information sessions about the loans. Thedford said, "I was able to open up my storefront on Nov. 16, 2018 which allowed me to hire a full-time employee - Ernest Brown.".

"In December, my sales increased 5 - 10 percent and I had three catering events per day," stated Thedford.

"Epicenter is a breath of fresh air for entrepreneurs. There is someone there to answer every question," added Thedford.

In addition to the funding, Pathway Lending has assisted her with marketing and learning how to manage a business.

Epicenter, has developed strategic partnerships with more than 40 local and regional organizations that serve entrepreneurs, including Start Co., Memphis Bioworks, Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, and many more.

The latest effort is the 800 initiative, which is designed to help 800 businesses with paid employees to scale and grow their businesses. According to an article in The Memphis Daily News, "a partnership with the City of Memphis, Start Co. and Epicenter, has been established to increase growth that will help 800 out of approximately 40,000 minority-and women-owned businesses."

Epicenter also collaborates with Start Co., Memphis Bioworks, and Innova to execute the Summer of Acceleration, a partnership that builds high-growth, high-tech startup companies.

Ryan Ramkhelawan, director of Acceleration at Start Co. said, "A great resource for entrepreneurs is our 48-hour launch. It starts Friday evening and ends Sunday with a final pitch. It is a crash course on how to start building a company from the ground up and a chance to connect with other entrepreneurs in Memphis. Throughout the event, we teach key startup principles on business model development, presentation skills and gaining useful customer insight. Also, the winner receives a prize and continued business coaching from the Start Co. team".

Kareem DaSilva, UofM computer science undergraduate student said, "With the emergence of IoT devices Smart City Tech is becoming more impactful than ever. Start Co's 48-hour launch is an excellent platform to bring bright minds in Memphis together to transform our city."

To learn more about Epicenter, visit their website @ www.epicentermemphis.org.

Crews Center Fellows

Paula Anderson is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in Liberal Arts. In January, she was awarded a fellowship for her business idea. Memphis Small Business Quarterly is a quarterly magazine highlighting local entrepreneurs in Memphis. Paula also serves as the editor for the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship e-newsletter - Entrepreneur's Edge. 

Photo Image: Paula Anderson

Paula Anderson

Mitchell Chase Baker is an undergraduate student majoring in electrical engineering. Mitch's business idea is Yearly.com.

Photo Image: Mitch Baker

Mitch Baker