The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Entrepreneurship established on SMU’s Campus

When Alexander Garner was a high school senior, applying for colleges became overwhelming and frustrating.

“I was annoyed by the fact that receiving admission decisions from universities was not as simple as sending applications out,” Garner, now a SMU sophomore, said. “Some universities mail decision letters, some e-mail, and some have their own interior systems that require a login and password.”

As a result, his idea was born. Garner’s company is a way to improve the acceptance process. A pre-business major with a computer science minor, he created Common Decisions, LLC just over a year ago and recently received a grant from the SMU Big iDeas Business Plan competition. The company serves as a platform for universities to deliver admissions decisions to applicants.

Students like Garner are starting their own companies with the help of universities around the country. Entrepreneurship is growing among young adults, and is a hot topic on college campuses. According to the Kauffman Foundation, an entrepreneurship research group, more than 2,000 U.S. universities and colleges now offer entrepreneurship courses – including SMU.

“For many years Cox had the only programs. Today, Meadows has an Arts Entrepreneurship program, Lyle has a course and a number of entrepreneurial activities, the provost has the Big iDeas competition, the Entrepreneurship club is in its second year, and the week of Nov.18 SMU organizations across campus will celebrate the first Global Entrepreneurship Week,” Director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Cox School of Business, Jerry White, said.

White is responsible for more than 20 courses in entrepreneurship and has been teaching for over 30 years. This growth of entrepreneurship on SMU’s campus is inspiring students to do what they are passionate about and start companies in whatever interests they might have. It may be computer software, or in SMU junior Justine McGregor’s case, jewelry.

Started in January, “Tee Jewelry” is a line of delicate and dainty bracelets, body chains, and necklaces sold on the Internet. McGregor sells her jewelry specifically through Etsy, a marketplace for buying and selling. She got the idea to sell her jewelry after she made pieces for her friends, and soon, the demand from others increased. McGregor simply turned her hobby into a career. Not only has the company been successful, but it also serves as a creative outlet for the Fashion Media major and Fine Arts minor.

“I love to draw, paint, sketch fashion illustrations, sew, design, and craft,” McGregor said. “My dad and brother are both architects and my mom is an interior designer, so you could say creativity runs in my blood.”

Ever since she was a child, McGregor claims she would make things around the house and try to sell them to her parents.

“Now nothing has changed except me making things of actual value and selling them to people who didn’t raise me,” McGregor joked. “I have always had something up my sleeve that I would sell to shops, people, and anyone who wanted to buy it. Before ‘Tee Jewelry’ I had a hair-tie company called Loop.”

McGregor said she learned more about commerce, marketing, design, and all other aspects of having a business by actually managing her own company.

That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship – it teaches students the most common ways to create personal financial independence, establishing wealth and freedom for themselves. However, learning these facets through owning a business in college is no walk in the park.

SMU freshman Chris Gladden recently started a Smartphone application called Kwik-Fix, and is finding out the hardships of managing a business and attending college at the same time.

“Time management has been one of the most important parts of my life throughout the past few years because of everything I have been juggling,” Gladden said. “I juggle classes, multiple student organizations, and my business work by being sure to block out my time in an efficient manner. That, and like any entrepreneur you will talk to, I don’t sleep much.”

Nonetheless, Gladden has high hopes for his app. Kwik-Fix allows homeowners to connect with trustworthy and professional home repair companies in a much faster and easier way. Gladden predicts it will change the way we reach out to home repair companies permanently. His goal, like other entrepreneurs, is to make everyday things simpler and more efficient.

“Entrepreneurs rejuvenate and invigorate an economy. Entrepreneurs are the change agents of an economy,” White said. “For those who do not plan to be full time entrepreneurs, study of the subject matter provides a ‘plan B’ in case the individual cannot find a job.”

White has seen many of his own students become successful entrepreneurs during his time at SMU – including Blake Mycoskie, founder of Tom’s shoes and Mustang Laundry.

Garner hopes to be another. He, along with two friends, Michael Silverman, a Stanford University graduate, and Jocelyn Neff, a current third-year computer science major at Stanford University, created the online Web and server-based system of Common Decisions to help make the college application process easier and more efficient for applicants and universities alike.

“Through Common Decision, applicants will be able to make an account on and digitally receive their college admission decisions once they are rendered,” Garner explained. “Once applicants create an account with us, the universities they apply to will be automatically linked to their account, using our back end system that processes data.”

Garner said he has always been an entrepreneur at heart, coming up with various ways to create more efficiency in everyday life.

“As an entrepreneur, I would like to build and develop things that will help improve the lives of people who use what I take part in creating,” said Garner. “I am particularly interested in developing digital systems that will help people.”

That seems to be the key ingredient – taking what you love and turning it into a business.

“Pick something you are passionate about,” White advised. “If it isn’t fun for you, you cannot put in the time and commitment to make it a big success.”

Alex Garner.jpg
Alexander Garner has his own company, Common Decisions, LLC and is one of the many entrepreneurs on SMU’s campus. Photo Courtesy of Alexander Garner.” height=”469
Justine McGregor finds the time to handcraft her line of delicate jewelry while in college.Photo credit: Mackenna Scripps.” height=”487


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