ABILENE, Texas (KTAB / KRBC) – Entrepreneurship was on full display at the Hunter Welcome Center at Abilene Christian University on Wednesday, as students showcased their own businesses.
There were 40 companies represented, with 175 student workers present to sell their t-shirts, food, essential oils and even guided hunts.
A wooden frame was lined with stuffed mallards and a sandhill crane. This was Austin Petree’s second year booth.
“I started guiding wild hog hunts when I was 16,” said Petree.
He started leading hunts while still in high school, and Petree, now 19, is the owner of Western Wing Outfitters, a guided hunting service outside of Abilene.
Petree said many of his clients are still surprised he’s only 19.
“I’m going to talk to somebody on the phone, and they think, ‘This guy is 30 or 40,’ and they show up and he’s 19,” Petree said.
Petree was one of several student business owners in the McCaleb boardroom who started their businesses before entering college.
However, many student businesses have been formed in the classroom.
For example, Tatum McClellan and Dan Hastings, 18-year-old freshmen, started the Purple Box Company, a care package delivery service to ACU.
In the Intro to Business course, students identify a problem on campus, present their ideas, and have them approved by a panel of professors. If approved, students can apply for funding, hire employees, create and sell their products, as well as pitch their product to a panel of investors.
At the end of the semester, all their profits are donated to local charities.
Senior Octavia Webber has found that not all students know how to cook after abandoning the school meal plan.
“So I thought, ‘Hey let’s have a cooking class and teach people how to cook simple, simple ingredients,’” Webber said.
She used her in-depth knowledge and love of cooking, which she learned from watching videos of Gordon Ramsay with her mother, to help the students become more comfortable cooking on their own.
She has partnered with the dorms on campus and brings her own hotplates and ingredients for her students to cook.
“People can go right in, sit in front of a hotplate, prepare the ingredients for them and have a great time learning how to cook,” said Webber.
She hopes to start ACU’s first cooking class in the near future, while also hoping to find Petree’s success early in her business career.
This was the school’s first pop-up market, and the students said they hoped ACU would continue to hold such events in the future.