MIDLAND BAM BIZHUB in Midland now offers an Entrepreneurial Certification Program through Odessa College and it’s planning to place the program in other colleges around the region.
Michael Crain, president of BAM, said the first class was offered in June of last year. BAM BIZHUB is the nonprofit side of the company that offers business classes and BAM is the for-profit side that works with clients to develop their businesses.
“We actually put it in motion with Odessa College and Howard College and I have a pretty good prediction and that we’re going to be able to play it in to other colleges before it’s all over with,” Crain said.
He added that they were working with South Plains College and New Mexico Junior College to bring the program there and possibly universities as well.
It is a 10-week program through Odessa College and Crain and Executive Partner Angel Garcia teach the courses.
Crain said it takes entrepreneurs through all the phases of business development up to going to market. Mentoring also is offered.
“It’s starting to really grab some traction. What we wind up doing is that we actually did a proof of concept ourselves on the class,” Crain said.
They have had 1,021 students so far since the class started.
The courses are mainly via videoconference, but four are face-to-face. That includes onboarding, business model, business plan and financials and a review of what they’ve learned and any suggestions they can offer to make it better.
They go through items like financial projections, investor fact sheets, lending opportunities, which include everything that the Small Business Administration offers to investors.
BAM has helped a wide range of businesses start.
“We’ve helped a snow cone truck get up and going and then we’re working with a couple large-scale businesses overseas. Even here locally, like in the Houston area, a large manufacturing company, they’re looking to relocate, they’re looking at the Permian, so we’re finding gaps for them to see if they can fit. They’re pretty large scale. Even a large tortilla factory in Mexico wanting to relocate … here to the United States, we’re working with them … to find a gap here where they can fit in. So the range is really broad that we’re able to help. Now of course someone like the Chevron or Pioneer, they’re a little too big,” Garcia said.
“But if you’re trying to make a move and you need resources, and you’re looking for assistance in how to strategize your moves then we’re for you,” he added.
Crain and Garcia met at University of Texas Permian Basin. Crain was the executive director of economic development and oversaw the Small Business Development Center and Garcia worked there.
“When I left, we wanted to create something else for the community, I think, with more value. This is how we wanted to do it. There were a lot of missing parts, you might say, the way it was before, who stepped into this business and now what we’re doing is we’re just filling it up” so small businesses all have the same opportunity with the same amount of resources, that can help them start their ideas and grow their business, Crain said.
They have several guest lecturers with different areas of expertise, like grants, legal and intellectual property with Dileep Rau of Houston.
Crain’s wife, Sandra, who has 35 years of retail experience, put together a program for customer service.
People on the BAM board also have financing, retail, legal, franchising and many other expertise that help people get their businesses off the ground.
Crain said BAM was the something that was missing in this area before.
“As a business guy myself who owned a manufacturing company, I wish there was something like this available for me. You earn hard knocks, but I know hard knocks cost money. This is a good way to maybe try to help sustain some of the startups with such increasing failure rate. That’s what we’re trying to stop,” Crain said.
He added that they have an 80 to 90 percent success rate.
“That’s not just because they took our class, but they took hard mentorship as well. I think the biggest thing about us is we don’t do a business plan and send you to a bank. We are a partner for the life of the business,” Crain said.
He added that businesses they’ve mentored can call them even if they’ve been in business for 10 years or more.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more, according to Investopedia.
BAM also has a podcast every other week called BAM Biz Talk, hosted by Crain and Garcia. They just kicked off Season 2.
Garcia said they have had guests on every show, except the first one where they introduced themselves.
“We try and keep a very varied group, but you know, it’s entrepreneur focused,” Garcia said.
Crain said the first show had Javier Joven and Midland At-Large City Council member Dan Corrales is a champion of their organization.
One of the next podcasts will feature Midland Mayor Lori Blong.
“We’re giving this out every two weeks to get to know people that are in our community, who are in business or have something to do with businesses, (that) they can echo their experience, their tribulations and their roadblocks and things to be careful of when you start up,” Crain said.
“We’ve had fun with that and I think it’s really informational, if you will, for the community and maybe get to know somebody that you like that you know and you can reach out and touch. These are all people within our community, except for two huge professors from Oklahoma University and from Lafayette. We do have a relationship coming … maybe later on in the first quarter will be Kansas State University and somebody coming from Tulane that will probably do an interview with us as well,” Crain said.