The UNC Bear Den

Posts tagged with 'Monfort College of Business'.

Alum Interview – NFL Player and Humanitarian Vincent Jackson

If you’re a fan of UNC athletics, then NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson likely needs no introduction. This 2011 Athletics Hall of Famer left a lasting mark on our university’s record books—his pass receptions, receiving yards, and overall touchdowns have yet to be surpassed. An especially well-rounded athlete, he was named All-American twice in football and consistently performed as one of the top scorers on UNC’s basketball team.

But these athletic accomplishments only provide a portion of the picture—an exceptional student, Jackson was drawn to UNC in large part by the advanced learning resources available at the Monfort College of Business. Since establishing his career in the NFL, he’s successfully leveraged that business know-how toward a number of humanitarian causes including the operation of his own non-profit, Jackson in Action 83, an organization devoted to the support of military families.

When discussing these wide-ranging accomplishments, Jackson is quick to credit the teammates and mentors at UNC who never stopped challenging him to succeed, especially Football Head Coach Earnest Collins. 

“When I was being recruited he was still the defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator,” Jackson said. “I can still remember sitting with him in my parents’ living room—there was something different about him. He said he wanted to help me reach the next stage in my life and my career and when I arrived at UNC he followed through on that promise to a T.”

This support proved especially crucial as Jackson made his ultimate transition into the NFL. “I think going to a smaller university with such a tight sense of community gave me an edge in my journey,” said Jackson. “I was absolutely determined to make all the people who bled with and supported me proud by becoming one of the ‘unknown’ players to make a career in this league. My coaches at UNC gave me wisdom and my teammates created a very competitive environment. I had the tools I needed.”

Now in his 10th NFL season, Jackson is looked to as a veteran by his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates—he’s been elected a team captain twice and last year his peers nominated him for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his charitable work with Jackson in Action. He credits his longevity in the league to the support of his family and colleagues as well as a consistently studious approach to the game.

“I always approach a new season like a rookie, having to earn my spot on the roster,” Jackson explained. “I work on the fundamentals, take notes, and do all the small things that have allowed me to find success.”

Regarding the Bucs’ prospects in 2014, Jackson is optimistic.

“With our new head coach, Lovie Smith, lots of new players, new uniforms, and the opportunity to play in one of the toughest divisions in the league, we’re all very excited,” Jackson said. “The goal for every team is a Super Bowl Championship and I believe we have what it takes to get there.”

As for life beyond the gridiron, Jackson is inspired by the warm reception his non-profit’s efforts have received over the course of its relatively brief, two-year lifespan. “We’ve coordinated surprise reunions, established reading programs for military schools, and even published our first children’s book with all proceeds benefitting further community outreach,” Jackson said.  “I plan to keep expanding on these efforts for years to come.”

For fellow Bears looking to make a similar impact in the non-profit sector, Jackson says finding a cause you can truly devote yourself to is essential.

“As someone who grew up a military brat, experiencing the many joys and obstacles that come with that lifestyle, I knew support of military families was a cause I could give my all to,” said Jackson. “Discovering that passion, that drive to leave your mark on a cause, is what’s going to keep driving you forward.”

Many thanks to Vincent Jackson for taking the time to share his insights with us. To learn more about his work with Jackson in Action 83, visit the organization’s homepage here.

Would you like to support the next generation of UNC student-athletes? Your gift of any size could make a world of difference for our talented competitors. Browse our full list of funds here.

UNC Football kicks off Saturday, 9/6 with a spectacular match-up against UNLV. See what the 2014-15 season has in store for the Bears by checking out their full schedule here. You can also score season tickets starting from just $60 here.

Photo courtesy of Jay Conner and the Tampa Tribune.

Alum Interview - Entrepreneur and Educator Dave King
Like most entrepreneurial success stories, Triple Crown Sports was born out of a simple idea. Founders Dave (BA-81, MA-82) and Annette (Adams) King (BA-81) wanted to develop a high-quality sporting event that would be more than just a competition. It would be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. 
This concept proved to be an incredibly popular one—what began with a single slow-pitch softball tournament in Meeker, Colo., has grown over the past 32 years into a portfolio of more than 300 events across the country with airplay on major networks like CBS Sports and ESPN. 
This fall, as Triple Crown prepares for the next big step in its development, King will be bringing his decades of CEO experience back to UNC’s campus as the instructor of a brand new course on the fundamentals of family-run business.
“I’m a development person,” said King. “It’s the coach in me. If I can equip someone with fundamental principles and repetitive behavior that will advance them toward their goals, I know I’m doing something worthwhile.”
That affinity for personal development is what drew King to UNC in 1977 to pursue his studies in recreation management. “I was a student-athlete and several schools were trying to recruit me for track, but only UNC offered the caliber of academic program I was looking for,” recalled King.
As part of his UNC curriculum, King secured a student internship with Grand Junction Parks & Recreation, a position that presented him with his first opportunity to oversee a national-level sports tournament. “That experience triggered several thought processes for me,” said King. “Two months later we were putting on our first Triple Crown event.”
Though Triple Crown has expanded far beyond its mom and pop origins, a supportive, distinctly familial ethos continues to characterize its day-to-day operations. Observant visitors may notice a map of the United States on his office wall—it has pins marking the location of every scholarship athlete he’s coached and advised through the college recruitment process over the past decade-and-a-half. There are more than 170 of them.
But family dynamics within the business world are not without their challenges, as King is quick to point out. Best practices for navigating the complex relationships that define a family business have been a continuous object of study for him since completing Harvard’s Executive Program in 2009.
“At least 70 percent of all businesses in the world are family-owned, passed from one generation to the next,” said King. “Without a strategic plan to maintain their structure during times of transition, it’s very rare that those businesses will simply luck into a smooth succession. That’s where you get power struggles and infighting—’Game of Thrones’ can be a surprisingly close point of comparison.”
Returning to UNC to share his years of expertise in family business with Monfort College of Business students is a crucial feature of King’s own succession plan—shifting his focus to the higher calling of education as he prepares to pass Triple Crown’s torch on to the next generation.
“I’ve been immersed in the psychological and strategic elements of sustainable family business for so long that I really feel I have some value to add to the curriculum,” explained King. “Experience also gives you the benefit of being able to help others learn from your past mistakes. The saying that’s served me best is, ‘If you weren’t humbled today, you will be tomorrow—so it’s best just to remain humble.’” 
Many thanks to Mr. King for taking the time to share his insights with us!
Are you looking to expand your professional skill set? In addition to Mr. King’s new course, the Monfort College of Business is launching its MBA program this fall. It’s an exciting new program designed to suit the busy schedules of working professionals. You can get more info here. 
ZoomInfo
Camera

Canon EOS REBEL T3i

ISO

400

Aperture

f/3.5

Exposure

1/30th

Focal Length

18mm

Alum Interview - Entrepreneur and Educator Dave King

Like most entrepreneurial success stories, Triple Crown Sports was born out of a simple idea. Founders Dave (BA-81, MA-82) and Annette (Adams) King (BA-81) wanted to develop a high-quality sporting event that would be more than just a competition. It would be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. 

This concept proved to be an incredibly popular one—what began with a single slow-pitch softball tournament in Meeker, Colo., has grown over the past 32 years into a portfolio of more than 300 events across the country with airplay on major networks like CBS Sports and ESPN. 

This fall, as Triple Crown prepares for the next big step in its development, King will be bringing his decades of CEO experience back to UNC’s campus as the instructor of a brand new course on the fundamentals of family-run business.

“I’m a development person,” said King. “It’s the coach in me. If I can equip someone with fundamental principles and repetitive behavior that will advance them toward their goals, I know I’m doing something worthwhile.”

That affinity for personal development is what drew King to UNC in 1977 to pursue his studies in recreation management. “I was a student-athlete and several schools were trying to recruit me for track, but only UNC offered the caliber of academic program I was looking for,” recalled King.

As part of his UNC curriculum, King secured a student internship with Grand Junction Parks & Recreation, a position that presented him with his first opportunity to oversee a national-level sports tournament. “That experience triggered several thought processes for me,” said King. “Two months later we were putting on our first Triple Crown event.”

Though Triple Crown has expanded far beyond its mom and pop origins, a supportive, distinctly familial ethos continues to characterize its day-to-day operations. Observant visitors may notice a map of the United States on his office wall—it has pins marking the location of every scholarship athlete he’s coached and advised through the college recruitment process over the past decade-and-a-half. There are more than 170 of them.

But family dynamics within the business world are not without their challenges, as King is quick to point out. Best practices for navigating the complex relationships that define a family business have been a continuous object of study for him since completing Harvard’s Executive Program in 2009.

“At least 70 percent of all businesses in the world are family-owned, passed from one generation to the next,” said King. “Without a strategic plan to maintain their structure during times of transition, it’s very rare that those businesses will simply luck into a smooth succession. That’s where you get power struggles and infighting—’Game of Thrones’ can be a surprisingly close point of comparison.”

Returning to UNC to share his years of expertise in family business with Monfort College of Business students is a crucial feature of King’s own succession plan—shifting his focus to the higher calling of education as he prepares to pass Triple Crown’s torch on to the next generation.

“I’ve been immersed in the psychological and strategic elements of sustainable family business for so long that I really feel I have some value to add to the curriculum,” explained King. “Experience also gives you the benefit of being able to help others learn from your past mistakes. The saying that’s served me best is, ‘If you weren’t humbled today, you will be tomorrow—so it’s best just to remain humble.’” 

Many thanks to Mr. King for taking the time to share his insights with us!

Are you looking to expand your professional skill set? In addition to Mr. King’s new course, the Monfort College of Business is launching its MBA program this fall. It’s an exciting new program designed to suit the busy schedules of working professionals. You can get more info here

On April 9th at 10:10AM in Kepner Hall Rm. 1030, UNC alumnus Brandon Barnholt (BS-81) will deliver a presentation to students in the Monfort College of Business. President and CEO of KeHE Distributors, LLC—the second largest distributor in the natural products industry—Mr. Barnholt will be joined by Director of Talent Management Rusty Bland to discuss the intersections between job opportunity and corporate culture.

Since earning his degree in finance and economics from UNC, Barnholt has maintained close ties to the university through a combination of service and philanthropy. In addition to serving as director of the MCB Dean’s Leadership Council and vice chairman of the University of Northern Colorado Foundation, he spearheaded the establishment of the KeHE Distributors Scholarship and Garth Allen Distinguished Chair through corporate and private donations.

I grew up in Denver and I was able to graduate from UNC thanks in part to funding from state grant programs,” Barnholt says. “I feel a sense of duty to pay it back, pay it forward, and make it possible for others to have the same opportunity that I had.”

Barnholt enrolled at UNC as a recreation major, but quickly made the switch over to business after taking courses in MCB which sparked his passion for finance. His first full-time job following graduation stemmed from a marketing internship at Conoco he had secured with the help of a Northern Colorado alumnus in his senior year. Working his way up over the course of a career spanning more than three decades, Barnholt served 11 years at Conoco before taking on the key leadership roles at Clark Refining & Marketing and White Hen Pantry that led to his current position at KeHE.

A college degree establishes that initial foundation: gives you a new vocabulary, equips you with important skill sets,” says Barnholt. “Once you’re launched, your professional life continues to be a constant, everyday learning process.”

Barnholt’s presentation will provide an overview of job opportunities at KeHE with an eye toward illustrating the links between a company’s values and employee success. Corporate culture is a point of differentiation for KeHE, an employee-owned company guided by a set of core values which emphasize giving and serving others.

Corporate culture is something I stress to every business student because job opportunities often entail a significant life commitment,” says Barnholt. “To decide whether or not a position is right for you, it’s essential that you do your research, carefully examine a company’s overall mission, and get a sense of how they’re going to help you to grow as an employee.”

According to Barnholt, it’s UNC’s culture that has made him such a staunch supporter of our institution. The university’s commitment to student persistence and success evidenced through programs like CHE and Cumbres—combined with its established record of serving first generation students—resonate with his idea of “potential” as a long-term resource that deserves to be cultivated.

Throughout my career, I’ve never been given the number one company in its space or the number one set of assets. I’ve always had to find the promise, develop the opportunity, and then turn it into something that has a lot of value,” Barnholt says. “I think the same can be said of connecting with young people at UNC who have a lot of promise. They just need that big break, a chance to pursue their own development.”

Many thanks to Mr. Barnholt for taking the time to talk to us about his ongoing work with our university.

Have you considered making a gift to support UNC students, but you’re unsure where to begin? Visit our official giving homepage and you’ll find a helpful FAQ, a comprehensive list of our 850+ funds, and even a handy search engine that will give you all the information you need to secure a matching donation from your employer. You can also explore on- and off-campus service opportunities by filling out this Volunteer Interest Form on the alumni website.

Interested in attending future presentations at the Monfort College of Business? You can find a detailed calendar of upcoming speakers on the MCB homepage

UNC Alumni Pursue Their Entrepreneurial Ambitions
As Brian Wones (BS-10) and Sterling Engelhard (BS-10) field questions about their business plan for a line of high tech-integrated athletic gear, an inspirational message is projected onto the screen behind them. “Having a good idea is just the first step in a long journey.” For Wones, Engelhard, and the rest of the competitors in this year’s Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge, a successful pitch to the assembled judges’ panel will represent a significant stride toward their long-term goals: up to $25,000 in start-up funds and the added exposure of having their business plan streamed to a live audience by 9News.
Despite the high stakes, Wones and Engelhard deliver their pitch with a calm and charismatic professionalism. They’ve been planning the roll-out of their Approach Gear brand for nearly a year now and their preparation shows. “We’ve already started working with a group of successful fund-raisers to set up a Kickstarter campaign so we can spread our vision and help others get involved,” said Wones, who studied Finance and Computer Information Systems at UNC. “We’ve also partnered with a design firm in California and a manufacturer in North Carolina to ensure that our products meet the needs of our clients while being produced domestically through sustainable processes.”
And the idea that set all of these wheels into motion? Like most stories of entrepreneurship, the creative spark struck while thinking over an everyday problem. “We noticed that people pursuing general fitness aren’t well served by technology, clothing, and training designed for professional athletes. Most of the big names in athletics gear like Under Armour and Nike focus their research and development on enhancing the performance of top-level competitors. Their advancements only reach the average person gradually through trickle-down marketing. With Approach Gear, we want to leverage innovative technology and professional trainers to help the ordinary person get fit.”
Dr. David Thomas, an Assistant Professor of Management responsible for the design and execution of the Entrepreneurial Challenge, says that giving promising professionals like Wones and Engelhard the opportunity to put their business plan to the test in front of a crowd of expert consultants and potential investors is precisely the reason this competition is held each year. “Fostering  economic growth in the Colorado business community is a significant element of MCB’s overall mission. That means we’re not just teaching the principles of entrepreneurship in the classroom, we’re creating practical living-learning experiences for students, alumni, and others who want to make their business ideas a reality. Simply by participating in this Challenge, competitors are getting so much expert feedback to improve their business model, a level of consultation that would typically cost you tens of thousands of dollars.”
But what if your big business idea isn’t developed enough yet to compete? Where can Bears who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey get guidance? Dr. Thomas, who is also an alumnus of UNC, stressed that there are a variety of free business development resources available to the university community year-round. “We have a cadre of professors, myself included, who are reaching out to the community and consulting on a pro bono basis.” This commitment to community outreach, combined with MCB’s long-standing partnership with the Colorado Small Business Development Center and UNC’s brand new BizHub small business incubator, ensures that our entrepreneurial alumni will never lack for professional guidance. “We want the idea people who are working away in their garage or home office to have a place to experiment and refine their long-term plans. Getting used to communicating your ideas effectively in this sort of environment is going to prepare you for the demands of the marketplace.”
Thanks to Dr. Thomas, Brian Wones, and Sterling Engelhard for taking the time to share their expertise with us.
Are you looking to develop a business plan, but you’re not quite sure where to get started? The Colorado Small Business Development Center has a great list of resources for entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their journey.
Have a business plan prepared already and you’d like to talk with a UNC faculty member about possible next steps? Contact Dr. David Thomas.  He’s issued an open invitation to our alumni to discuss consultation opportunities.
Are you farther along in your business plan and ready to explore more concrete development and partnership opportunities? Click here to complete the UNC BizHub “Incubator Application” or here to learn more about their upcoming programming.
If you have any comments or questions, be sure to share them with us below. Stay tuned to the Alumni Association Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on the MCB Entrepreneurial Challenge broadcast on 3/25. 
ZoomInfo
UNC Alumni Pursue Their Entrepreneurial Ambitions
As Brian Wones (BS-10) and Sterling Engelhard (BS-10) field questions about their business plan for a line of high tech-integrated athletic gear, an inspirational message is projected onto the screen behind them. “Having a good idea is just the first step in a long journey.” For Wones, Engelhard, and the rest of the competitors in this year’s Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge, a successful pitch to the assembled judges’ panel will represent a significant stride toward their long-term goals: up to $25,000 in start-up funds and the added exposure of having their business plan streamed to a live audience by 9News.
Despite the high stakes, Wones and Engelhard deliver their pitch with a calm and charismatic professionalism. They’ve been planning the roll-out of their Approach Gear brand for nearly a year now and their preparation shows. “We’ve already started working with a group of successful fund-raisers to set up a Kickstarter campaign so we can spread our vision and help others get involved,” said Wones, who studied Finance and Computer Information Systems at UNC. “We’ve also partnered with a design firm in California and a manufacturer in North Carolina to ensure that our products meet the needs of our clients while being produced domestically through sustainable processes.”
And the idea that set all of these wheels into motion? Like most stories of entrepreneurship, the creative spark struck while thinking over an everyday problem. “We noticed that people pursuing general fitness aren’t well served by technology, clothing, and training designed for professional athletes. Most of the big names in athletics gear like Under Armour and Nike focus their research and development on enhancing the performance of top-level competitors. Their advancements only reach the average person gradually through trickle-down marketing. With Approach Gear, we want to leverage innovative technology and professional trainers to help the ordinary person get fit.”
Dr. David Thomas, an Assistant Professor of Management responsible for the design and execution of the Entrepreneurial Challenge, says that giving promising professionals like Wones and Engelhard the opportunity to put their business plan to the test in front of a crowd of expert consultants and potential investors is precisely the reason this competition is held each year. “Fostering  economic growth in the Colorado business community is a significant element of MCB’s overall mission. That means we’re not just teaching the principles of entrepreneurship in the classroom, we’re creating practical living-learning experiences for students, alumni, and others who want to make their business ideas a reality. Simply by participating in this Challenge, competitors are getting so much expert feedback to improve their business model, a level of consultation that would typically cost you tens of thousands of dollars.”
But what if your big business idea isn’t developed enough yet to compete? Where can Bears who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey get guidance? Dr. Thomas, who is also an alumnus of UNC, stressed that there are a variety of free business development resources available to the university community year-round. “We have a cadre of professors, myself included, who are reaching out to the community and consulting on a pro bono basis.” This commitment to community outreach, combined with MCB’s long-standing partnership with the Colorado Small Business Development Center and UNC’s brand new BizHub small business incubator, ensures that our entrepreneurial alumni will never lack for professional guidance. “We want the idea people who are working away in their garage or home office to have a place to experiment and refine their long-term plans. Getting used to communicating your ideas effectively in this sort of environment is going to prepare you for the demands of the marketplace.”
Thanks to Dr. Thomas, Brian Wones, and Sterling Engelhard for taking the time to share their expertise with us.
Are you looking to develop a business plan, but you’re not quite sure where to get started? The Colorado Small Business Development Center has a great list of resources for entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their journey.
Have a business plan prepared already and you’d like to talk with a UNC faculty member about possible next steps? Contact Dr. David Thomas.  He’s issued an open invitation to our alumni to discuss consultation opportunities.
Are you farther along in your business plan and ready to explore more concrete development and partnership opportunities? Click here to complete the UNC BizHub “Incubator Application” or here to learn more about their upcoming programming.
If you have any comments or questions, be sure to share them with us below. Stay tuned to the Alumni Association Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on the MCB Entrepreneurial Challenge broadcast on 3/25. 
ZoomInfo
UNC Alumni Pursue Their Entrepreneurial Ambitions
As Brian Wones (BS-10) and Sterling Engelhard (BS-10) field questions about their business plan for a line of high tech-integrated athletic gear, an inspirational message is projected onto the screen behind them. “Having a good idea is just the first step in a long journey.” For Wones, Engelhard, and the rest of the competitors in this year’s Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge, a successful pitch to the assembled judges’ panel will represent a significant stride toward their long-term goals: up to $25,000 in start-up funds and the added exposure of having their business plan streamed to a live audience by 9News.
Despite the high stakes, Wones and Engelhard deliver their pitch with a calm and charismatic professionalism. They’ve been planning the roll-out of their Approach Gear brand for nearly a year now and their preparation shows. “We’ve already started working with a group of successful fund-raisers to set up a Kickstarter campaign so we can spread our vision and help others get involved,” said Wones, who studied Finance and Computer Information Systems at UNC. “We’ve also partnered with a design firm in California and a manufacturer in North Carolina to ensure that our products meet the needs of our clients while being produced domestically through sustainable processes.”
And the idea that set all of these wheels into motion? Like most stories of entrepreneurship, the creative spark struck while thinking over an everyday problem. “We noticed that people pursuing general fitness aren’t well served by technology, clothing, and training designed for professional athletes. Most of the big names in athletics gear like Under Armour and Nike focus their research and development on enhancing the performance of top-level competitors. Their advancements only reach the average person gradually through trickle-down marketing. With Approach Gear, we want to leverage innovative technology and professional trainers to help the ordinary person get fit.”
Dr. David Thomas, an Assistant Professor of Management responsible for the design and execution of the Entrepreneurial Challenge, says that giving promising professionals like Wones and Engelhard the opportunity to put their business plan to the test in front of a crowd of expert consultants and potential investors is precisely the reason this competition is held each year. “Fostering  economic growth in the Colorado business community is a significant element of MCB’s overall mission. That means we’re not just teaching the principles of entrepreneurship in the classroom, we’re creating practical living-learning experiences for students, alumni, and others who want to make their business ideas a reality. Simply by participating in this Challenge, competitors are getting so much expert feedback to improve their business model, a level of consultation that would typically cost you tens of thousands of dollars.”
But what if your big business idea isn’t developed enough yet to compete? Where can Bears who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey get guidance? Dr. Thomas, who is also an alumnus of UNC, stressed that there are a variety of free business development resources available to the university community year-round. “We have a cadre of professors, myself included, who are reaching out to the community and consulting on a pro bono basis.” This commitment to community outreach, combined with MCB’s long-standing partnership with the Colorado Small Business Development Center and UNC’s brand new BizHub small business incubator, ensures that our entrepreneurial alumni will never lack for professional guidance. “We want the idea people who are working away in their garage or home office to have a place to experiment and refine their long-term plans. Getting used to communicating your ideas effectively in this sort of environment is going to prepare you for the demands of the marketplace.”
Thanks to Dr. Thomas, Brian Wones, and Sterling Engelhard for taking the time to share their expertise with us.
Are you looking to develop a business plan, but you’re not quite sure where to get started? The Colorado Small Business Development Center has a great list of resources for entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their journey.
Have a business plan prepared already and you’d like to talk with a UNC faculty member about possible next steps? Contact Dr. David Thomas.  He’s issued an open invitation to our alumni to discuss consultation opportunities.
Are you farther along in your business plan and ready to explore more concrete development and partnership opportunities? Click here to complete the UNC BizHub “Incubator Application” or here to learn more about their upcoming programming.
If you have any comments or questions, be sure to share them with us below. Stay tuned to the Alumni Association Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on the MCB Entrepreneurial Challenge broadcast on 3/25. 
ZoomInfo

UNC Alumni Pursue Their Entrepreneurial Ambitions

As Brian Wones (BS-10) and Sterling Engelhard (BS-10) field questions about their business plan for a line of high tech-integrated athletic gear, an inspirational message is projected onto the screen behind them. “Having a good idea is just the first step in a long journey.” For Wones, Engelhard, and the rest of the competitors in this year’s Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge, a successful pitch to the assembled judges’ panel will represent a significant stride toward their long-term goals: up to $25,000 in start-up funds and the added exposure of having their business plan streamed to a live audience by 9News.

Despite the high stakes, Wones and Engelhard deliver their pitch with a calm and charismatic professionalism. They’ve been planning the roll-out of their Approach Gear brand for nearly a year now and their preparation shows. “We’ve already started working with a group of successful fund-raisers to set up a Kickstarter campaign so we can spread our vision and help others get involved,” said Wones, who studied Finance and Computer Information Systems at UNC. “We’ve also partnered with a design firm in California and a manufacturer in North Carolina to ensure that our products meet the needs of our clients while being produced domestically through sustainable processes.”

And the idea that set all of these wheels into motion? Like most stories of entrepreneurship, the creative spark struck while thinking over an everyday problem. “We noticed that people pursuing general fitness aren’t well served by technology, clothing, and training designed for professional athletes. Most of the big names in athletics gear like Under Armour and Nike focus their research and development on enhancing the performance of top-level competitors. Their advancements only reach the average person gradually through trickle-down marketing. With Approach Gear, we want to leverage innovative technology and professional trainers to help the ordinary person get fit.”

Dr. David Thomas, an Assistant Professor of Management responsible for the design and execution of the Entrepreneurial Challenge, says that giving promising professionals like Wones and Engelhard the opportunity to put their business plan to the test in front of a crowd of expert consultants and potential investors is precisely the reason this competition is held each year. “Fostering  economic growth in the Colorado business community is a significant element of MCB’s overall mission. That means we’re not just teaching the principles of entrepreneurship in the classroom, we’re creating practical living-learning experiences for students, alumni, and others who want to make their business ideas a reality. Simply by participating in this Challenge, competitors are getting so much expert feedback to improve their business model, a level of consultation that would typically cost you tens of thousands of dollars.”

But what if your big business idea isn’t developed enough yet to compete? Where can Bears who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey get guidance? Dr. Thomas, who is also an alumnus of UNC, stressed that there are a variety of free business development resources available to the university community year-round. “We have a cadre of professors, myself included, who are reaching out to the community and consulting on a pro bono basis.” This commitment to community outreach, combined with MCB’s long-standing partnership with the Colorado Small Business Development Center and UNC’s brand new BizHub small business incubator, ensures that our entrepreneurial alumni will never lack for professional guidance. “We want the idea people who are working away in their garage or home office to have a place to experiment and refine their long-term plans. Getting used to communicating your ideas effectively in this sort of environment is going to prepare you for the demands of the marketplace.”

Thanks to Dr. Thomas, Brian Wones, and Sterling Engelhard for taking the time to share their expertise with us.

Are you looking to develop a business plan, but you’re not quite sure where to get started? The Colorado Small Business Development Center has a great list of resources for entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their journey.

Have a business plan prepared already and you’d like to talk with a UNC faculty member about possible next steps? Contact Dr. David Thomas.  He’s issued an open invitation to our alumni to discuss consultation opportunities.

Are you farther along in your business plan and ready to explore more concrete development and partnership opportunities? Click here to complete the UNC BizHub “Incubator Application” or here to learn more about their upcoming programming.

If you have any comments or questions, be sure to share them with us below. Stay tuned to the Alumni Association Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on the MCB Entrepreneurial Challenge broadcast on 3/25. 

#BearsGive Featured Alumnus: Ryan Hochmiller

Ryan Hochmiller (BA-07), today’s #BearsGive honoree,epitomizes all of the qualities that make the UNC alumni base such a vital and inspiring group: drive, creativity, altruism, and a generous dash of idealism. Since earning his degree in Business Management from UNC’s Monfort College of Business, Ryan has taken on a variety of professional pursuits. From his family’s small business, Active Truck Parts and Sales Inc., to a board position in the Colorado Auto Recyclers Association to an advisory role in a 3D printing start-up, Ryan has rarely shied away from a new and exciting venture. With this penchant for novel approaches to communal action, it’s no wonder that he’s been so involved with our recently formed Young Alumni Council as co-chair of the Membership and Governance Committee. We spoke with him about the qualities that define an effective leader and mentor as well as his vision for the future of alumni engagement.

What first got you interested in joining the YAC and what do you enjoy most about your involvement?

I’ve been involved with Alumni engagement on a number of levels up to this point, so when I was asked to apply to the Young Alumni Council, I jumped at the opportunity without any real hesitation.  I most enjoy the fact that I’m able to serve the YAC during this critical, formative period.  I’ve learned a lot throughout this process of getting the group up and running. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with new graduates and a wide array of professionals who have all benefited from their UNC education.

Did you serve in any other leadership roles as a student at UNC? 

I never served as a leader in any organizations at UNC, but I did receive good deal of guidance at that time that’s proven to be highly applicable in my current roles.  As a freshman, I already had two jobs and those kept me very busy, but the structure they provided also helped drive me to finish school in 3 1/2 years.  In my work, I was mentored by a number of successful coworkers and businessmen.  Through these relationships I learned a lot about leadership, our potential as individuals, and our ability to carve out our own path.  I also learned to be a servant-leader, that nothing great can be achieved alone, and that we can only control our attitudes and actions, no one else’s.  I’m honored to have a small leadership role in the YAC because it gives me the opportunity to practice those leadership principles. 

What are the most interesting and challenging aspects of what you do for a living?

I think my ultimate challenge is that my professional future largely depends on my continued personal growth.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to run a small business or a psychologist to understand a family business; but as a student of these institutions, I’ve found they can still be very complex and engaging.

Being a leader in my family’s small business and pursuing my own personal ventures, I’ve been seriously challenged to manage our employees as well as our companies’ internal affairs.  I’ve also had to learn some very complicated industries from the ground up.  The learning curve for dealing with all these demands only seems to grow steeper over time. The deeper I dig into my professional aspirations, the more I understand how little I know. In spite of this, I feel like I always have the capacity to learn more. Plus, the great thing about business is that you never have to go it alone. There are always leaders you can go to for guidance. Personally, I’m grateful and indebted to those leaders. 

What skills do you need to work in your field and how did UNC help to equip you with those skills?

Leadership, obviously, is a huge must!  UNC helped me with that in an indirect way.  My education at UNC and the Monfort College of Business gave me the confidence and competence I needed to make decisions and take calculated risks.  That, in turn, has helped me to lead people in my day-to-day work and exert leadership through the board position I hold with the Colorado Auto Recyclers Association.   

Another concept that’s proven to be incredibly useful is the idea of maximizing efficiency.  In college I learned tools and methods to enhance efficiency and take advantage of the benefits it yields.  Now, as a good example of its application, our family business is undergoing a complete overhaul of its business model to improve efficiency across the board. I owe UNC a lot of credit for my progress.

Are there campus organizations or faculty members at UNC who were influential in steering you down this professional path?

Of course!  One great thing about professors is that, if you demonstrate a willingness to learn, they’re often happy to give of their time to help you out—for free!  One of my primary mentors is Dr. David Thomas, a professor in MCB.  Dr. Thomas is a seasoned business professional who really enjoys sharing his experience and knowledge.  I’m blown away that he’s always more than happy to give me an hour of his time. As a graduate, being able to talk through an idea with a professor like Dr. Thomas is an enormous blessing .  I am extremely thankful to all of my professors, especially those in the business school, for having such a great impact on my future.

How did you get started assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs with their business plans?

My dream to do business consulting started early in my freshman year and just kept growing from there.  My senior year at MCB, we were asked to write a business plan and compete against our fellow classmates.  From this challenge I gained my first spark of confidence and inspiration.  I have written several plans since then,”unofficially,” and my wife—more than anyone—has heard me talk about how one day I’d like to do this for a living.  I’ve also helped write marketing plans for different associations and small groups of UNC alumni.

So far I’ve had an interesting mix of results. Some of the plans I’ve started for others have stopped abruptly because of unfeasible business ideas; others I’ve been able to put to use within the family business; still others I’ve written for competitions.  So in 2012, after all that practice, I began to broadcast to my family that I was officially going to start pursuing this dream of mine.  Since then I’ve helped two small businesses get off the ground.  How did I hook these first two?  I got lucky.  They’re both family-run, home-based operations: the first is an interior design business and the second is a 3D Printing business—of which I am a co-owner.

What are the most important things these sorts of entities should be aware of as they’re getting started?

At this point, I think I can give a few basic recommendations to prospective small business owners.  Make time to plan, research, and think about your business.  Then, drop all of your work. Sleep on it or watch TV. Oftentimes when you go back to planning after that little break, your mind will surprise you.   That rest period can help break down walls that all of your intentional thinking couldn’t even begin to crack. 

Also, don’t underestimate the power of estimation.  Financials in particular deserve plenty of attention, so sit down with a professional early on and start creating detailed estimates.  Positive thinking is key, so it can be good to talk about your ambitions like you would about a goal you’ve already achieved. Finally, I’ll paraphrase one of my favorite quotes:  You become the things you read and listen to, the people you hang out with, and the ideas you embrace.  Take positive in, and positive will come pouring back out.

What are the most rewarding aspects of the volunteer work that you do with the YAC? What positive changes would you like to see accomplished through that work?

Being able to volunteer alongside all of the other accomplished members of the Young Alumni Council is a great reward in and of itself. The experience of working on the structure of a new organization is exciting and thought-provoking.  The people involved with the YAC— the President of UNC and her staff, council members, leadership, and Alumni Board—all expect to bring about a true transformation in the alumni experience through this new Council.  In my opinion, this has already begun to happen within the first three quarters of the organization’s existence. 

As far as the effects that will be brought about by that transformation, I have a number of positive changes in mind.  I would like more opportunities to reconnect with my college friends through UNC functions.  I want there to be more events where we can begin to tap into some of these awesome social networks we all share as UNC alums. I’d like to see our alumni give more, so that more can be given back to the school and its students.  My ultimate ambition is to help create a more prosperous, generous, and connected group of alumni.

A big thank you to Ryan for taking the time to share his thoughts with us and all that he’s done to blaze the trail into this brave new world of alumni involvement. If you’d like to learn more about the Young Alumni Council, check out their official organization page and consider attending their upcoming Bears and Brews mixer in Ft. Collins on 6/25. Interested in exploring other UNC alumni organizations, social occasions, and volunteer opportunities? You can view our events calendar here, contact the AA here, or apply to be a part of our first ever regional chapter in Denver here. For MCB-specific alumni news, be sure to visit their lovely new webpage—which, incidentally, Ryan Hochmiller helped to plan and implement—here

Were you inspired to pursue your entrepreneurial ambitions as a student at UNC? Do you know of a philanthropic alum who deserves a #BearsGive spotlight? Please share with us in the comments section or via email at dan.rosplock@unco.edu!

(Photo: Ryan Hochmiller with his wife Jenny, a teacher and fellow UNC alum. They live together in Reunion, CO.)