Here is a brief look at some of the recent news stories that featured Neeley students, staff and faculty. For a complete look at Neeley in the News, check out In the News Archives.

FW Business Press
March 3, 2013
TECH Fort Worth's angel group flying high - By Betty Dillard

Last August, when local nonprofit technology incubator TECH Fort Worth launched its own angel network to pair high-net-worth individuals with promising early-stage ventures, executive director Darlene Ryan hoped the program might attract five or six interested investors.

Instead, the nascent network has taken off flying. Dubbed Cowtown Angels, the new springboard for area entrepreneurs recently welcomed its 16th investor and is drawing an increasing number of wealthy folks looking for ways to diversify their money.

In the past six months, members of the Cowtown Angels have screened more than 20 innovative startups and have made investments totaling about $700,000 in two local companies, PerioSciences LLC, a researcher and marketer of antioxidant-based oral care products, and Natural Dental Implants Inc., which manufactures a nonsurgical tooth replacement system.

The group has completed due diligence on two other area companies and is close to making deals.

“It’s happened faster than I expected. I guess I thought it would be a harder sell than it’s been,” Ryan said.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, TECH Fort Worth fulfills its mission to grow the local technology-based economy by helping entrepreneurial businesses bring their products to market. Ryan said Cowtown Angels is a continued expansion of the incubator and was created, in part, to improve opportunities for startup companies to attract capital while helping stimulate the local economy.

“We saw a gap in what people call the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We saw people with money and experience in the community and we had all these startups and saw that gap between them,” she said. “Clearly the need is there. Clearly there are people in the community who want to help startup companies; they want to invest in them. They have the money, they have the time, they have the right motives; they enjoy this. They just didn’t know how to connect with these startup companies.”

Like other angel groups, members of Cowtown Angels and entrepreneurs meet regularly – in this case at monthly forums – to hear pitches from a variety of startups. Many of the financial backers are entrepreneurs themselves as well as corporate leaders and business professionals. Individuals who invest their cash in these high-risk, illiquid emerging firms must meet accredited investor qualifications required by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In return for their investment and annual dues, angels receive equity in the startups and often are placed on the companies’ oversight boards, giving them day-to-day involvement in their investments. Not only does the program introduce the angels to the entrepreneurs but it also coaches and mentors those entrepreneurs through the process of securing funding.

“Angel investing is about making money, but there’s also something for these people wanting to do good for Fort Worth and help get more companies started here. They see that benefit. It really is a dual motive for them, which is what we hoped for when we created it,” Ryan said.

The Cowtown Angels program – one of 10 such networks scattered across the state, including the Texas Open Angel Network, Central Texas Angel Network, Baylor Angel Network and Dallas Angel Network – is one of the fastest growing members of the Angel Capital Association. The ACA is the North American trade association of angel groups and private investors. Part of a nationwide trend of angel networks, Cowtown Angels is also a member of the North Texas Angel Network (Ryan helped organize NTAN five years ago) and the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks, which allows Texas companies to more easily seek funding from the statewide angel groups. Cowtown Angels also recently signed a collaboration agreement with Golden Seeds, a national angel network that invests in startups primarily owned by women.

“This is definitely growing, it’s definitely a trend. Investors are looking for alternatives and networks like Cowtown are helping fill that need,” said Michael Sherrod, the William M. Dickey Entrepreneur in Residence at Texas Christian University’s Neeley Entrepreneur Center. Sherrod is a member of both Cowtown Angels and NTAN.

“This is beginning to emerge and mature and help all kinds of entrepreneurs and early-stage companies, not just technology or bio-entrepreneurs. It’s becoming really robust,” he said.

Bekah McCarley, a graduate of TCU’s entrepreneurship program, is the Cowtown Angels program manager. As a TECH Fort Worth intern the past two years, she helped to plan and start the Cowtown Angels program.

Although still in its infancy, Cowtown Angels has already given birth to an initiative that McCarley and Sherrod hope will bring future generations of both angels and entrepreneurs to the program and to the local community.

In collaboration with TCU, the angel network has launched the Cowtown Angels Scholars program. Four students – three undergraduates and one MBA student – were selected for the inaugural effort. The group attends monthly meetings and assists angels by working on due diligence projects.

“It keeps the students motivated, is an educational experience for them and it gets the angels what they need,” Ryan said. “We’re helping raise that next generation of entrepreneurs to understand what angel investing is, and after they successfully sell their companies they’ll successfully start the next generation of angel investors.”

Sherrod described the program as an eye-opening, real-world experience for the students.

“This program gives them a great opportunity to see how investors determine the risk, how CEOs approach investors, and to see what investors are interested in,” he said. “It gives them a chance to network with CEOs and people they would not have had the chance to meet.”

TECH Fort Worth will present its fifth annual IMPACT Awards on May 17. The awards are designed to increase awareness about entrepreneurial activity in North Texas. They are granted to early-stage businesses commercializing innovative products or services that will have a significant impact on the environment, health care and the community.

The awards also raise funds to support business incubation programs for technology-based entrepreneurs. This year, for the first time, award finalists will be given the opportunity to pitch their companies to local investors. To give the Cowtown Angels Scholars more visibility, the group will host an IMPACT Angels event on June 20 at TCU. The Fort Worth band Green River Ordinance is scheduled to perform at the event.

Fox4

March 4, 2013

NRA and NASCAR

Dr. George Low was interviewed by Fox News reporter Brandon Todd concerning the NRA sponsoring NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It's not a political forum, it's a sports marketing opportunity,” TMS President Eddie Gossage said.

“This is a perfect match from a marketing standpoint,” Low said.

Todd: TCU marketing professor George Lowe calls it a ‘no-brainer' for both. The NRA is looking for an audience for their brand. TMS has it in droves. And Texas is a Second Amendment friendly state. But amidst renewed political debate on gun control and December's Sandy Hook school shooting, there are risks.

Low: “Some in the crowd or even some loyal NASCAR fans might not be crazy about this. But it's going to be a very small minority of those people.”

Todd:  Lowe says that it may not bode well for the Speedway or NASCAR if they're looking to diversify their audience.

Low:  “That's where there may be a potential risk of alienating some of those potential younger people Generally younger people are less likely to be NRA supporters than older people.”

Todd: A risk Gossage and the speedway weighed and were willing to take.

Gossage: “It resonates with red-blooded Americans and with NASCAR. It will bring us some new fans. We'll probably bring them some new eyes as well.”

Todd: NASCAR does have the final say in all of this but NASCAR has given approval to the NRA in the past. So far they don't appear to have any problem with the deal.

Low on Fox

US News logo

March 12, 2013
MBA Programs Evolve to Meet Student Needs - By Margaret Loftus

After working for five years in California as a musical supervisor for film trailers, Nick Martin decided to tap into his analytical side at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business.

As part of his business school studies, he works as a digital marketing and advertising intern for a medical technology company, where he is being recruited for a position after he graduates. With his background, getting hired there was a long shot, he says. But his employers were impressed by how well he managed a market opportunity analysis students did for the company.

Administrators at Neeley and elsewhere are scrambling to find new ways to sharpen graduates’ edge in a leaner, meaner business world. In some cases, change has been sweeping.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School rolled out a whole new plan last fall that allows students greater leeway to customize their studies within six “pathways,” including Managing the Global Enterprise and Understanding and Serving Customers.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management will infuse its entire curriculum with four themes that cut across the traditional disciplines like accounting and marketing: innovation and entrepreneurship; private enterprise/public policy interface; markets and customers; and “architectures of collaboration.”

Most institutions, like Neeley, are working within their existing curricula to allow students opportunities to specialize earlier, expanding offerings on entrepreneurship and innovation, and integrating experiential learning as well as more (and more sophisticated) ways to get a global perspective.

Schools are responding to new pressures to compete among themselves, too. Applications were down at nearly two thirds of the country’s full-time MBA programs last year, according to a study last fall by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

“The increasingly competitive nature of the MBA landscape mandates that you are always on the leading edge,” says Stacey Whitecotton, associate dean for MBA programs at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

The new curriculum at W.P. Carey, which debuted last fall, still relies on core courses such as accounting, finance, and marketing as a foundation. But it now integrates more electives into the third and fourth quarters, so students can go after greater depth in their chosen areas before showing up for a summer internship.

Courses in entrepreneurship are becoming de rigueur in the elective mix. Entrepreneurship and innovation were wish list items that Raj Echambadi heard again and again when he polled employers and alumni of the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, where he is a professor of business administration and academic director of executive programs.

As a result, UIUC introduced several core courses last fall that are being integrated as well into the full-time MBA program, including entrepreneurship and corporate renewal, in which teams develop business plans for new ventures and compete for university seed grants, and strategic innovation management, where students analyze innovation success stories across industries and countries.

Student Scott Rylko, a vice president of a foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturer, says the most valuable takeaway so far has been instruction on the importance of “disruptive innovation” in setting a course for businesses, as digital photography and online periodicals have done for publishing, for example.

“Instead of waiting for someone else to disrupt your business through technology,” he says, the goal is to figure out how to disrupt yourself.

Full-time candidates traditionally haven’t had the advantage of immediately applying what they learn in the classroom. That’s changing rapidly as programs build in experiential learning.

Each year, students at University of Iowa’s Henry B. Tippie College of Business form teams from across business specialties to consult for companies in different industries. Students have helped Goodwill of the Heartland move into the baked goods business, for instance, and worked with Stihl to analyze a lithium ion versus a gas engine for its power tools.

Some b-schools are borrowing a page from the corporate book to build skills through outdoor experiences, where instructors teach basic survival skills, but leave most of the decision making to the expeditioners, to instill confidence in their ability to lead. At the same time, educators are realizing that a simple field trip is not the answer to understanding global business.

At TCU, for example, students who wanted a global perspective used to get a 10-day trip to Munich and London. Now, everyone takes a new first-semester course on global business and can choose from several electives such as international marketing, international finance, and a global supply chain course, plus 5 additional 10-day trips (including to South Africa and China), in the second and third semester.

Educators agree that there’s no end to change in sight. “The next five years will be the biggest time of change in education that we’re ever seen,” says Kellogg Dean Sally Blount, who thinks getting an MBA online for little or no money will become a reality in the near future.

Says UIUC’s Echambadi: “The world was very different 10 years ago, but reasonably predictable, like chess.” Now, he says, the game is more like poker.

This story is excerpted from the U.S. News Best Graduate Schools 2014 guidebook, which features in-depth articles, rankings, and data.

DBJ

March 15, 2013
TCU adds advanced degrees in energy, logistics - By Bill Hethcock

 North Texas’ booming energy and logistics sectors are sparking change at Texas Christian University, which is adding advanced degree programs targeting professionals already in those fields. 

 TCU’s Neeley School of Business will offer an Energy MBA and Master of Science in Supply Chain Management beginning in the Fall 2013 semester. 

 Bill Cron, senior associate dean of Graduate Programs and Research, said he expects about 30 students in the first classes for the Energy MBA and roughly 60 students in the program in Fall 2014. 

 Demand from the oil and gas industry, including conversations with executives from companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and XTO Energy, prompted the program, he said. 

 “With all the activity with the Barnett Shale and everything that’s going on with natural gas, it just seemed like a no-brainer,” Cron said. 

 The average age of executives in the industry is 54, and it’s a highly cyclical industry, Cron said. So, when times are tough, companies don’t hire. 

 “You have this lumpiness that exists in terms of senior management here which reflects the cyclicality,” he said. “A whole lot of those people are nearing retirement, and there’s a gap behind them, so that seemed to present an opportunity as well.” 

 The Energy MBA combines the managerial business perspective of an MBA degree with specific industry tools and practices such as energy exploration, production and distribution, Cron said. 

 Courses are offered in the evenings on the TCU campus. It’s a 48-credit-hour program and includes a week-long study-abroad experience. 

 Tuition and fees for students in the program, including the study-abroad fees, total roughly $71,760, according to the Neeley school’s Web page. 

 TCU estimated it will spend about $400,000 a year to develop and operate the Energy MBA program, Cron said. 

 Executives with energy-sector education and  experience are in demand across a variety of industries in North Texas, said Jason Downing, managing principal of professional services giant Deloitte’s Dallas office. 

 Deloitte looks for employees with a background in energy for its accounting/audit business, tax business and consulting practice, among others, he said. 

 “The oil and gas sector is one of our significant growth engines,” Downing said. 

Transportation drives interest

 In addition to a thriving energy sector, North Texas is home to Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, BNSF Railway and hundreds of corporations producing, shipping and receiving products around the world. 

 That makes the Neeley School of Business well-situated to offer advanced degrees for working professionals in the supply chain industry, said Morgan Swink, professor of supply chain management and executive director of the Supply and Value Chain Center at the business school. 

 Supply chain management is a relatively new field that has evolved out of the intersections of purchasing, logistics, manufacturing, planning and distribution, Swink said. 

 It’s the science behind the systems that move products from suppliers to consumers. Swink expects 15 to 20 students in the first classes. 

 “Programs in supply chain haven’t been around that long,” he said. “To look at that as an integrated group of skills is relatively new. It’s one of the fastest growing fields in the country.” 

 The U.S. Departmant of Labor projects that demand for logisticians will grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding 27,800 jobs nationwide in the field.

 Logisticians, who analyze and coordinate supply chains, number about 108,900 nationwide in 2010, the labor department statistics show.  

 The Master of Science in Supply Chain Management is a 30-hour evening and online program. 

 The program includes a two-week international experience to visit businesses and governments to help students better understand global challenges and opportunities, Swink said. 

 Tuition and fees for the program are estimated to total about $51,000, according to the Neeley Web page.

FW Business Press

How’s your brand today? - By Robert Francis

How’s your brand?

That used to be a question I’d ask companies when I freelanced for Brandweek magazine, which, as the name implies, covers branding initiatives by companies, organizations and other entities. When I was working for them 10 years ago or so, I wasn’t really thinking of my personal brand, i.e. Robert Francis AKA, Bob Francis.

Personal branding at the time was thought of as someone like Donald Trump or more locally, as Nolan Ryan. Branding represents your total image; it fashions the way other people feel about you.

Now? We’re all, depending on the size of your ego, junior league Donald Trumps or Nolan Ryans. We’re brands.

We’re supposed to look ourselves in the mirror on a daily basis and ask: “Self, how’s your brand today?” or “What have I done for my brand lately?”

How do we represent our brand? By using Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels that are the main crutches to fulfill this now-required task. Networking helps your brand. And hey, maybe even by the work you do or by your contributions to society. Or maybe by talking to someone face-to-face. No really, people still do that.

I don’t think I’ve done myself any favors by once posting that I was at Lee’s Grilled Cheese restaurant in Keller and then never updating my Facebook post. I’m surprised people haven’t sent out search parties to find me or if they wonder if I’m living in the dumpster behind the restaurant. If you’re going to be stuck in social media purgatory, there are worse places than a restaurant that serves grilled cheese.

This new world is tough enough for those of us who now have to manage our “brand” as well as do other mundane stuff like work, live and eat. But it’s also tough sledding for companies that grew up in an era when you didn’t have to tweet, post on Facebook or interact with customers via cell phones and iPads.

Two brands that are having a tough time are right in our backyard: RadioShack and GameStop. On March 19, they saw how cruel this new world is. Interbrand, a brand consultancy, released its annual Best Retail Brands report, which included a ranking of the top 50 U.S. retail brands.

In the report, Grapevine-based GameStop Corp. was ranked as the 26th most-valuable U.S. retail brand. According to Interbrand, GameStop’s value fell 29 percent in the past year to $2.53 billion. Fort Worth-based RadioShack meanwhile, came in at No. 47, dropping 26 percent in the past year to $923 million.

GameStop, which seemed to sail through the recent recession virtually unscathed, is facing some of the same pressures that the dear, nearly-departed Blockbuster faced several years ago as people began downloading their video options over cable or the Internet instead of heading out to the nearest brick-and-mortar store.

RadioShack may face more severe problems as its new management team seeks to retool, refocus and find their way after years in an unbranded desert.

All is not lost for these brands though, as Target has proved, says Robert Leone, professor of marketing at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University.

“Target was in the middle of nowhere until they figured out that consumers will pay a little bit more for a better shopping experience and higher quality products,” he said. “It sounds obvious now, but it took them years and now they’re one of the top five brands out there.”

Leone believes RadioShack’s new leaders are seeking that formula that will bring back the relevance of their brands.

“What is the value proposition that they’re offering?” he asked. “Consumers buy these brands to do a job for them. Why do I want to buy from RadioShack? RadioShack needs to go far beyond a change in the logo of the company or a change in the brand name without something behind it. They can’t just do that without doing something behind it that changes the game of how consumers think of the brand.”

Remember, The Shack?

RadioShack and GameStop are hardly the only brick-and-mortar brands to lose brand face. Best Buy came in at No. 13, declining 52 percent in brand value, falling out of the top 10 for the first time. It faces similar problems to RadioShack and GameStop.

Marketing professor Leone doesn’t have to do a lot of research to see the problems brick-and-mortar stores face. Every semester in his marketing classes students want to know what textbooks are needed as early as possible so they can order from Amazon.com.

It goes beyond books. Students who don’t have access to trucks or larger vehicles buy televisions off the internet that are delivered to their dorm rooms or apartments.

“That’s the way they think, they’ve grown up doing it,” he says.

For RadioShack, GameStop and Best Buy, these issues are key to survival.

“My hope is that RadioShack and GameStop are in the midst of trying to figure this out,” he says.

Just like you and your personal brand, they need to look themselves in the mirror and ask: “Self, how’s your brand today?”

FW Business Press

March 29, 2013

For four years in a row, the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University has been ranked in the top six in the nation by recent graduating students surveyed by Bloomberg Businessweek for the annual Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking, and in the top 30 overall ranking. TCU moved up to No. 6 in the student survey, behind the University of Notre Dame (1), Cornell University (2), University of Virginia (3) and University of Richmond (4), and ahead of all other Texas undergraduate business schools: Southern Methodist University (9), University of Texas at Austin (11), Texas A&M University (23), University of Texas at Dallas (37), Baylor University (60) and the University of Houston (105). The Neeley School also ranked tops in Texas in academic quality, tying with UT-Austin at No. 35; they are the two highest ranked Texas schools in that category.