Lessons from Three Years as an Entrepreneur

Agricultural Food Systems has now been in business for three years!

It’s been an interesting year for AFS: we completely redesigned the TenderID prototype, took part in another round of testing with the USDA, continued fine-tuning our technology, and were featured on CNNMoney’s website with fellow John Brown University alumni businesses James+James and Craftistas.

Any entrepreneurial journey must be one marked by constant learning. Sometimes this learning comes through success, other times it comes through hardship and failure. As Winston Churchill put it,I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” In other words, every situation presents an opportunity to grow. During my first year running AFS, I learned the importance of thinking strategically, constantly moving forward, and staying humble. The second year as an entrepreneur taught me to not let my identity be defined by my work, the benefits of delaying gratification, and how collaboration is an integral part of innovation. Those six themes were prevalent again this year as we continued to move forward with our R&D. Here are three additional lessons I learned this year:     Read more of this post

Lessons from Two Years as an Entrepreneur

Agricultural Food Systems, a company three friends and I started after graduating from John Brown University, celebrated its two year anniversary of incorporation yesterday!

Last year, I shared three lessons I learned during my first year as an entrepreneur. Since last May, AFS participated in the first cohort of the ARK Challenge, began testing of the TenderID in conjunction with the USDA, and was featured in Bloomberg Businessweek and Arkansas Business (article 1 || article 2).

As I’ve continued on my entrepreneurial journey, one of my personal mantras has been “never stop learning.” If for some reason AFS doesn’t work out (which hopefully won’t happen) and I learn nothing in the process, then the whole experience has been wasted. However, if it fails and I have some valuable takeaways, then it was a worthwhile (though costly) endeavor. As Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

That being said, here are three lessons I’ve learned in the past year: Read more of this post

Lessons from One Year as an Entrepreneur

This past Saturday, Agricultural Food Systems, a company three friends and I started after graduating from John Brown University, celebrated its one year anniversary of incorporation!

What a year it’s been! It all started with a strategic management class at JBU which led to us entering our business plan in the 2011 Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Governor’s Cup. After some very positive feedback there, we decided to start the business and were officially incorporated on May 19, 2011. Since then we have been busy getting the final production model of the TenderID, a technology that accurately and consistently predicts tenderness in raw beef carcasses on the production line, ready to for the market and should be ready for launch very soon (for more on AFS and the TenderID, visit the AFS website).

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship in the past year. Jumping straight from college into being a small business owner has been quite the adventure with lots of teachable moments. Here are three of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far:  Read more of this post

3 Keys to Entrepreneurial Success

Success in sight....

I am now a small business owner. That is a weird, but exciting, sentence to type. If you would have asked me my freshman year what I would be doing when I graduated, “small business owner” is probably not something you would have heard me say. However, what began as a business plan project for Strategic Management (the senior capstone class for business students at JBU) has developed into a real-life company called Agricultural Food Systems (AFS).

At the end of the school year, another one of the other seniors who was on one of the very successful JBU teams that got 2nd place at the 2011 Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Governor’s Cup and I were asked to share some advice with the JBU students who will be taking the Strategic Management class next year. As I was thinking about what to share, I came up with “Three P’s” that are essential to the success of any entrepreneur: Product, People, and Passion.

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AFS at the 2011 Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Governor’s Cup

The AFS management team with awards from the 2011 Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Governor's Cup

Last Wednesday (4/20), the Agricultural Food Systems team (JD Andrade, Kirk Dennison, Lauren Kessler-Morriss, and myself) from John Brown University traveled down to Little Rock with the other two JBU teams, GardenCraft and Craftistas, for the 11th annual Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Governor’s Cup awards luncheon. The Governor’s Cup is a business plan competition for undergraduate and graduate students in the state of Arkansas sponsored by the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation. Fifty undergraduate teams from colleges and universities all over Arkansas submitted plans for this year’s competition, of which twelve made it into the semi-finals and six made the finals. 

 

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