ACU students showcase businesses at on-campus pop-up market

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Entrepreneurship was on full display at Abilene Christian University’s Hunter Welcome Center on Wednesday as students showcased their self-made businesses.

There were 40 businesses represented, with175 student workers present to sell their t-shirts, food, essential oils, and even guided hunts.

A wooden frame was lined with stuffed mallard ducks and a sandhill crane. This was sophomore Austin Petree’s booth.

“I started guiding feral hog hunts when I was 16,” Petree said.

He began leading hunts when he was still in high school, and the now 19-year-old Petree is the owner of Western Wing Outfitters, a guided hunting service outside of Abilene.

Petree said it is still a surprise to many of his clients that he is only 19 years old.

“I’ll be talking to someone on the phone, and they’re thinking, ‘This guy is 30 or 40,’ and they show up and he’s 19,” Petree said.

Petree was one of several student business owners set up in the McCaleb Conference Room who started their business before they got into college.

However, many of the students’ businesses were formed in the classroom.

For example, 18-year-old freshmen Tatum McClellan and Dan Hastings started the Purple Box Company, a care package delivery service at ACU.

In the Intro to Business class, students identify a problem on campus, pitch their ideas and get them approved by a panel of professors. If approved, the students are able to ask for funding, hire employees, create and sell their products, as well as pitch their product in front of a panel of investors.

At the end of the semester, all of their profits are donated to local charities.

Senior Octavia Webber saw that not all students knew how to cook after getting off of the school’s meal plan.

“So I thought ‘Hey, let’s make a cooking class and teach people how to cook simple, simple ingredients,’” Webber said.

She used her extensive knowledge and love of cooking, which she learned by watching Gordon Ramsay videos with her mother, to help students become more comfortable cooking by themselves.

She has partnered with the dormitories on campus and brings in her own hot plates and ingredients for her students to cook with.

“People can come right in, sit in front of a hot plate, have the ingredients set out for them and have a good time learning how to cook,” Webber said.

She hopes to create ACU’s first cooking class in the near future, while also hoping to find the success that Petree has early on in his business career.

This was the first pop-up market the school has done, and the students said they hope ACU continues to have these type of events in the future.

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