Trey Sinyard
Trey Sinyard (BBA ’11)

Trey Sinyard

BBA Finance, BS Biochemistry (2011)
MD Candidate at Duke University

Without a doubt, the Terry Entrepreneurship Program changed my life trajectory. My eyes were opened to what it truly means to relentlessly pursue opportunity without regard to resources. Far from being a definition for entrepreneurship, this principle infiltrated my immediate undergraduate and post-graduate plans and laid the foundation for the dreams which I'm now pursuing. I would never have considered working for a startup company after graduation had I not been exposed to the thrill of the challenge of entrepreneurship at Terry. And while the experience was arguably the hardest project I've ever been a part of, the adventure and excitement embedded in meeting the everyday challenges of wide open opportunity engendered a love for challenge and a desire to solve big problems.

Beyond the career opportunities, Terry Entrepreneurship fundamentally altered my mindset for all ventures, whether directly or indirectly business related. I learned that all my endeavors are about the generation of value and that price is irrelevant. If the market is not buying what I'm selling, I don't have a pricing problem, I have a value problem! Even more so, I learned the dire need for excellence in marketing and sales, two areas that I had demoted in importance during my undergraduate tenure in the business school. In entrepreneurship, I learned to always sell, to convey value succinctly yet powerfully, to pitch an idea that captures imaginations and cash flow. Even in my current field of medicine, these aspects are crucial to any pursuit.

Lastly, Terry Entrepreneurship embedded within me an inescapable desire to innovate. Rarely, if ever, will I work in a perfect system. Consequently, developing a keen perspective for tweaks and modifications is an essential component for any successful career. Most innovations aren't postulated and meditated on for ages, they are noticed when good endeavors are restricted by alterable barriers. It is for this very reason that I regularly sit with my colleagues in medical school and discuss small problems and potential solutions which could alter important variables such as infection rates, outcomes, and safety. And the beauty of the entrepreneurship background is that these ideas don't remain locked in the cognitive realm. No, far from it! We ideate and innovate in order to create. The Terry Entrepreneurship program gifted a skillset to make these ideations reality.

Michelle Kourakin
Michelle Kourakin (BBA '12)

Michelle Kourakin

BBA Finance (2012)
Analyst at Goldman Sachs

Being an entrepreneur is very in vogue; it is a popular notion that if you start a tech company out of your college dorm room you will make billions. However, I would challenge this mainstream statement and ask what entrepreneurship can offer you?

I started my journey in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia’s Entrepreneurship Program. I believed that upon my graduation I would’ve created and owned my own business, having gone to class during the day while I built my empire at night. However, as I started to pursue my career as an entrepreneur I began a long and intimate journey with myself in what I like to call ‘MyEnterprise’ business. This is the philosophy that one should run his or her life as a business every day. You are the boss and CEO and your network of connections are different branches of your business. The decisions I make every day propel me towards my end goal of making me the best business possible.

It was during this journey that the Terry Entrepreneurship Program helped me realize that I did not have to start a company out of my dorm room to be an entrepreneur. More specifically, the first exercise Chris Hanks, head of the program, made our class complete helped me define my own journey. Looking back, I realized I could be successful by internally debating the following simple questions, deriving a truthful answer, and doing whatever it took to achieve results.

  1. Who do you want to be?
  2. What motivates you?

Aside from helping me realize my own deep desires, the program also gave me the confidence to execute them. After a brief period of time I co-founded an LLC called (now; visit Twitter #athensboard), worked at a healthcare startup in Arizona and an investment bank in Atlanta. And now as a highly motivated analyst for Goldman Sachs, I’m happy to say that I still wake up every day and invest a great deal of energy into "MyEnterprise". I’m truly thankful that the Terry Entrepreneurship Program helped me pinpoint my dreams while at the same time instilling the skills I needed to achieve them.

Austin Langley
Austin Langley (BBA ’13)

Austin Langley

BBA Marketing and International Business (2013)
Chief Marketing Officer at Smither Family Kitchen

I attended a workshop to hear the Managing Director of the MIT Center for Entrepreneurship Bill Aulet speak about “Disciplined Entrepreneurship” and the steps to take in order to build a revolutionary and innovative company. He opened with the question, “Can entrepreneurship be taught?” I was immediately brought back to my entrepreneurship class when Chris Hanks posed the same question to his students. When Professor Hanks first asked the question, I thought he was crazy to think you can hand anyone a book, lecture them, and turn a class of corporate-bound business students into entrepreneurs. When Bill Aulet asked the question over a year later, my response was completely different. Why? Because I had spent a year with Chris Hanks.

I still don’t believe that entrepreneurship can be taught using traditional methods, but I do believe when you have someone like Chris Hanks planning the environment, amazing things can happen. The magic didn’t happen in the classroom. We had afternoon meetings and workshops, business plan competitions for venture capital, lots of pizza, and most importantly – homework. What Chris says in the classroom isn’t what makes the difference, it is how he inspires in everyday students to do their best to make the world a better place. I’ve had many people try to change the way I think, talk, or act throughout my life, but no advice has ever been as practical as his. His blunt attitude and witty, experienced ego makes us laugh, questions our passion, and inspires us to act.

Without Chris, I may have been an ordinary student. With Chris, I am now running a salsa company, making websites, and consulting others about the realities of startup life. I do so with the confidence that I have made it through the UGA Entrepreneurship Program and learned from the best. I used to believe entrepreneurship wasn’t for everybody, now I believe it can be for anybody.

Casey Courter
Casey Courter (BBA ’12)

Casey Courter

BBA Management (2012)
Regional Sales Manager at Gamma2 Plastics

Why take on the responsibility to be the captain of your own ship, knowing that there is a possibility that it could very well sink? Why be your own boss? Why take risks? Why entrepreneurship?

Chris Hanks challenged my train of thought. When I wanted to cop out and say things like, "I don't have any money to start with" or "I'm just not that creative" or "I just don't know where to even start." Chris Hanks would chime in with inspiration, truth, hope, and action.

"It is going to be hard, but it is the hard that makes it worth it.”

This is the type of inspiration that inspired me to not only "try" to succeed, but to overcome obstacles, and truly succeed. The most rewarding thing for me was to look back and see how much I had grown, not only as the owner of a company, but as a person.

So… why be an entrepreneur? I will be the first to tell you. Take on the responsibly! Be the captain of your own ship. Take risks. Sound cliché? It can sound however you believe it sounds, but for me it has been the most difficult, challenging, heart breaking, exhilarating, fulfilling, and rewarding process I have ever experienced. That’s why I, am an entrepreneur. Thanks for the inspiration, Chris.

John Arnold
John Arnold (MBA ’15)

John Arnold

MBA Class of 2015

This school year afforded me the privilege of moderating the Accelerator Program. The Accelerator Program provides students with start-ups the opportunity to receive mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs and to advance their ventures as fast as possible. As a moderator, I observed the progress and development of these student ventures through the year, and two primary results stand out from the program.

First, the program provided protection from wasted time and resources. Many students learned that they had failed to recognize legal obstacles or market challenges when they present to the mentors. These oversights are simply due to a lack of experience, but they might have cost the student countless hours and dollars before the obstacles were uncovered by trial and error.

Second, the program propelled students further into the dreams that they had for starting a business. During the second to last session in the fall, one of the students was challenged to, “Just go do it. You’re ready.” On the day of the final meeting I received an email saying that he was on his start-up’s first business trip, getting out there and doing what he dreamed!

As an entrepreneur, I understand the value of being protected from my mistakes and propelled further down the path of launching my venture, and I find that kind of mentoring truly difficult to place a price-tag on. I’m simply thankful to have these types of resources and opportunities at my fingertips.

Lindsey Epperly
Lindsey Epperly (BA '11)

Lindsey Epperly

BA English (2011)

I’ll never forget the experience of walking into my first Terry Entrepreneurship Program meeting. As an English major, I was somewhat intimidated to enter a room full of business students who had already spent years learning the ins and outs of the business world. I’m fortunate enough to come from an entrepreneurial family, but the idea of being graded on my grasp of Macro Economics was enough to scare me away from the major.

I was in my last year at UGA and had to seize the opportunity to further educate myself in pursuing my own dreams of becoming a business owner. Fortunately enough, as intimidating as it might have been to walk into that room, I was immediately greeted by friendly students, encouraging professors, and the support necessary to turn my business into a reality.

For the last two years of my undergrad courses, I had been working on the side as a luxury travel consultant, a position that would force me to flex marketing and entrepreneurial strengths in order to succeed. During weekends, I would attend bridal shows around Georgia to obtain grow my client base. During the school week, I would work one on one with clients in order to plan their dream honeymoons, in between classes, of course!

The longer I stayed in the business, the more my services grew through referrals and the more my expertise extended beyond honeymoons. Before I graduated, I was sending people across the globe and taking business trips to further my career education – visiting the islands of French Polynesia wasn’t a bad way to spend my senior Spring Break!

With a year and a half of working in the travel industry under my belt, I felt I could successfully create and pitch a business plan to launch my own brand. While I work for a host agency, my dream was to market myself and my services separately, to focus on luxury planning and customized itineraries to a discerning clientele.

When the opportunity to participate in UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur came about, I knew I had to compete, and Vacations by Lindsey was born. I entered with the idea that, even if I didn’t make it past the first round, it would be an invaluable experience to hear feedback on my business plan from peers, professors, and respected venture capitalists.

To my surprise, Vacations by Lindsey continued advancing in the competition until the top five, where I received the highest compliment I could’ve expected: runner up. The honor came when the venture capitalists announced that my plan did not need financial assistance and could very well survive on it’s own. With that encouragement, I refined and launched my brand, which I’ve been running full time since graduating in 2011.

I can honestly say that without the support of the Terry Entrepreneurship Program or the confidence gained from competing in UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur, my business would not be where it is today.

Christina Smith
Christina Smith (MBA '14)

Christina Smith

MBA Class of 2014

I’m pursuing my MBA to develop the business acumen necessary to improve the world through business. My experience with the Terry Entrepreneurship Program will be invaluable as I identify opportunities to tackle social and environmental problems. I’ve not only learned how to craft a sound business plan, but I’ve discovered the importance of developing a persuasive pitch. I’ve been coached by Peter Casey, an entrepreneur featured on the TV show the Dragon’s Den (the UK version of Shark Tank), and competed in the finals at the Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) competition recently held in Atlanta. I’m confident my innovative thinking and ability to pitch strategic ideas will empower me to turn big ideas into reality throughout my career.

Barrett Brooks
Barrett Brooks (BBA '10)

Barrett Brooks

BBA Finance and Accounting (2010)
Founder and CEO, Living for Monday

Some people say entrepreneurship is something that runs in our blood…that it can’t be taught. Others believe that entrepreneurship is simply a collection of skills applied in a different setting. I would argue that it is both, and the Terry Entrepreneurship Program led by Chris Hanks is well on its way to becoming one of the premier programs for walking the line between the two to encourage young people to launch companies that matter.

Graham Williams
Graham Williams (BBA ’12)

Graham Williams

BBA Marketing (2012)
Director of Marketing and Product Development, Melvin’s

Getting involved in the Terry Entrepreneurship Program was probably the best academic or professional decision I made while at UGA. In just 6 short hours every week, I was given a mindset in which to approach life that has drastically impacted me since then. In the entrepreneurship class, Chris Hanks was more than just a teacher; he was a coach, a mentor and an inspiration. During such a crucial time at the end of my college career, he stressed 3 important traits within each of us to carry throughout life in all we do: Faith, Focus, and Fire. But Chris didn’t just teach us lessons about each of these, he embodied them during each 3-hour class period and in numerous meetings and calls he made himself available for outside of class.

It was through this time of learning about entrepreneurship that I was taught the deeper value of networking and the impact of the 1st follower. Since graduating, the inspiration drawn from Hanks class gave me the courage to step out and create a new leg of my family’s company based out of Charleston. My grandfather started 2 very successful “Melvin’s Bar-B-Q” restaurants in Charleston that are still a huge local hit today. After having a vision of potential growth, I developed a plan to spread the awareness of our company’s brand through selling our Bar-B-Q sauces in specialty outlets across the southeast. I used the business plan and the 1st follower mentality to inspire my uncle to buy into the idea. Since starting along this path, we are now selling in 40+ new stores across 2 states and working on a couple huge ventures that would put us in 6 new states!

Thank you Chris and the Entrepreneurship program for giving me the courage to utilize the Corridor Principle and walk through open doors, trusting that they will only lead to more doors that we can’t foresee until we start walking! I know that the Terry Entrepreneurship Program has impacted many others like it did me, and will only continue to grow in its reach! Thanks!

Brett Blalock
Brett Blalock (BBA ’12)

Brett Blalock

BBA Finance and Real Estate (2012)
Consultant at Capgemini

While attending UGA, I had the pleasure of working closely with Chris Hanks for three years developing the Terry Entrepreneurship Program. Throughout my interactions with him I gained valuable advice on how to be a great entrepreneur and person as well. There were many challenges that I faced while working with the Entrepreneurship Program, Athensboard, and the Society of Entrepreneurs. Both opportunities presented their own challenges and it was through Chris that I got to take on these challenges. I learned the meaning of “it’s the hard that makes it great” from finding new ways to promote the program, motivating my team members in Athensboard, and spreading awareness of the Entrepreneurship Program through the Society of Entrepreneurs. All of these experiences would have been non-existent had it not been for the Entrepreneurship Program. There are experiences in college that change you into the person you will be for the rest of your life. For me, I saw my greatest change through this program. I have more courage, passion, and leadership skills because of this program. I am more confident in front of others and most importantly confident in myself. I found myself in the Terry Entrepreneurship Program and I am thankful to Chris Hanks for providing me with the opportunity.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson (BBA ’11)

Mark Johnson

BBA Finance and Marketing (2011)
Program Coordinator, Terry Entrepreneurship Program

As a student, there was no other program that made a stronger impact on my life and career trajectory than the Terry Entrepreneurship Program. After spending two years in entrepreneurial ventures post-graduation, I had the incredible blessing of joining forces with Chris, the Director of the program, to help fuel growth initiatives. When I first came on board last year, I asked one of our alumni to write a few sentences about what the program meant to them for marketing purposes. Needless to say, they came back not with a few sentences but with a full-length testimonial showcasing the life change that had occurred. I shared the testimonial with another group of current and former students and mentioned how amazing it would be to have a ton of testimonials like that profiling the program’s influence. They immediately ran with the idea. This page is just a subset of the many who readily chimed in.

We hope our collective words inspire you to find out more about what it means to be transformed by an entrepreneurial mindset. We guarantee you will not regret it!

Andrew Wilkins
Andrew Wilkins (BBA ’12)

Andrew Wilkins

BBA Accounting (2012)
Founder, HomelessHelpCard

What is the Terry Entrepreneurship Program? Simply put, it is the land of opportunity at UGA, the one place that anyone from any major can experience what it is like to use the full creativity and resourcefulness of the human mind without any boundaries. From a classroom setting to a public forum, the program challenges both seasoned entrepreneurs and daydreamers to become the “better version of themselves they were designed to be.”

In the spring of 2012, at the suggestion of my now wife, I sat in the seats of Chris Hanks’ New Venture class. To be honest, I came into the class with quite a chip on my shoulder. I just assumed that this entrepreneurship thing would come naturally for me, kind of hereditarily I suppose, since my parents owned both a gourmet candy company and an architecture firm. I learned very quickly that entrepreneurship might come naturally, but the businesses they create do not appear over night.

I believe it was the first week of class when Chris Hanks dropped a small bomb on our class. He said, “In a month and a half, you will have to give a presentation on a new business that you started; it has to be profitable by the end of the semester, and you cannot spend a penny on it.” I remember thinking to myself, “that is impossible.” Chris would often throw a problem out to the class and take suggestions on how to fix it. With forty different minds, we were able to come up with some of the most off the wall yet practical solutions to any problem. It was then that I realized how attainable impossible was.

It came time for me to decide what kind of business I wanted to start for my project. As I milled over several different business models, it came to me that non-profits are nothing more than a business that profits a cause instead of its owners or shareholders. Since Athens-Clarke County is the single poorest county in the entire United States for counties with a population of 100,000, I decided that I wanted to create a business that focused on helping the local homeless shelters. I set out creating a business model that involved partnerships with businesses and individuals to provide consistent and reliable funds to shelters. My first idea was to sell advertising to business owners on a crossword and Sudoku pamphlet for students. This idea didn’t go over very well because businesses don’t do much advertising in the spring months. After talking to over seventy business owners I was able to sign one owner up and learn a significant amount of information about the industry. I presented my failure to Chris Hanks and the rest of the class focusing on my inability to capture a full list of advertisers.

After my presentation Chris pulled me aside and said he was very impressed with what I was able to accomplish with my business. He explained to me that having only one business was in no means a failure but a success. I went home with a new perspective, determined to come up with the next big idea to profit the homeless shelters in Athens. After several days, I came up with the Homeless Help Card, a discount card that is sold to profit the community. I waited until after finals to begin talking to business owners about my new idea.

It is now fall of 2013, and I am still chugging along with the Homeless Help Card. We have partnered with over 55 businesses at over 80 locations to provide three homeless shelters over $9,700, and we are just getting started. We are literally changing the lives of the poor and homeless. A simple project, that forced me to be myself against overwhelming odds, changed my life.

To say the entrepreneurship program made a difference in my life is laughable. I am not the same person I was two years ago. I have a heart for people and a passion to change situations and lives. I now have something that drives me, along with the skills to make the impossible attainable.