e-ship road trip

Hop on the Bus for the Entrepreneurial Road Trip

The TCU Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation took students to Dallas to learn more about the DFW entrepreneurial community and meet successful entrepreneurs and TCU alumni.

October 18,  2018

By Elaine Cole

“Just because you are a student right now doesn’t mean it is too early to go for an idea. If you come up with that ‘gut feeling idea,’ go for it!” 

Those words of wisdom from Garrett Adair BBA ’16, co-founder with Nik Hall BBA ’16 of vitafive gummy vitamin delivery service, inspired current TCU students as they toured the facility and heard about the TCU alumni’s entrepreneurial journey. 

The stop was part of the annual entrepreneurial road trip sponsored by the TCU Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for members of the Entrepreneurship Club at TCU.

“The best advice I heard was to find a career that I love and to have an insatiable thirst for learning,” said Jensen Ditzler, entrepreneurial management major and president of the Entrepreneurship Club at TCU. 

The bus left campus early Tuesday morning during Fall Break and made the first stop at Steelhead Capital Management with Les Kreis BBA ’97.  

“Meeting with Steelhead Capital was cool because it gave us an interesting perspective of what it looks like on the other side of entrepreneurship,” Ben Kuhn, entrepreneurial management major, said. “Les was a successful business person and now he gets to be the person who funds other people’s businesses.”

The group stopped at Capital Factory to tour 26,000-square-feet of coworking and event space, then stopped at Trinity Groves restaurant and retail project for lunch with Bob Sambol, founder of Bob’s Steak & Chop House and president of Trinity Groves. The next stop was a visit to vitafive. 

“At vitafive, it was inspiring to see someone in the position that I and other students hope to be in when we graduate,” Kuhn said of alumni Adair and Hall. “They have a full-fledged operation and are living the dream.”

The road trip’s final stop was a visit with Tanner Agar BBA ’14 owner of Rye craft food and drink in McKinney, who offered up a variety of food samples including pork belly lollipops. 

“Visiting vitafive and Rye was extremely influential,” said Sydney Phillips, finance and entrepreneurial management major, who was instrumental in organizing the trip. “These three entrepreneurs were members of the Entrepreneurship Club when they were at TCU, and vitafive was pitched at our Shaddock Venture Capital Fund competition. These young entrepreneurs are finding new ways to reach customers and expand to new markets, and seeing their journey and process was truly inspirational and motivating.”

The road trip is an annual event to different cities to visit businesses and resources and learn more about successful entrepreneurial ventures. 

“Visiting with entrepreneurs at various stages in their careers helps students see their classroom learning in action as they witness the metamorphosis of ideas to reality, and more importantly, all the work, effort and persistence it takes,” said Rodney D’Souza, managing director of the TCU Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The importance of co-curricular programs like this cannot be overstated, as they help students connect classroom learning to the realities and possibilities of entrepreneurship.”

For their help in coordinating and managing the trip, D’Souza expressed thanks to Matt Smilor, director of the Values and Ventures program, Cindy James, administrative assistant for the institute, and Sydney Phillips, VP of development for the Entrepreneurship Club of Fort Worth.