OC, BAM BIZHUB offer entrepreneur certification

BAM BIZHUB and BAM Executive Partner Angel Garcia and President Michael Crain pose for a photo at the BAM offices in Midland. BAM BIZHUB is offering an entrepreneurial certification program through Odessa College. They also offer expertise and mentoring for new business owners. (Ruth Campbell | American Odessa)

MIDLAND BAM BIZHUB in Midland now offers an Entrepreneurial Certification Program through Odessa College and plans to roll out the program to other colleges across the region.

Michael Crain, president of BAM, said the first class was offered in June of last year. BAM BIZHUB is the non-profit 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 that we’re going to be able to play it at other colleges before it’s all over,” 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’s a 10-week program through Odessa College and Crain and Executive Partner Angel Garcia teach the courses.

Crain said he takes entrepreneurs through all phases of business development to go-to-market. Mentoring is also offered.

“It’s really starting to pick up some traction. What we end up doing is we actually did a proof of concept ourselves on the classroom,” Crain said.

So far they have had 1,021 students since the class started.

The courses are mainly via videoconference, but four are face-to-face. This includes onboarding, business model, business plan and financials and a review of what they have learned and any suggestions they can offer to make it better.

They go through items such as financial projections, information sheets for investors, loan opportunities, which include everything that the Small Business Administration offers to investors.

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BAM has helped a wide range of businesses start up.

“We’ve got a snow cone truck up and running and then we’re working with a couple of 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 a gap for them to see if they can fit. They are on a fairly large scale. Even a big tortilla factory in Mexico that wants to relocate…here in the US, we’re working with them…to find a gap here where they can fit in. So the range is really wide that we can help. Now obviously someone like Chevron or Pioneer, they’re a little too big,” said Garcia.

“But if you’re trying to make a move and you need resources, and you’re looking for assistance on how to strategize your moves then we’re for you,” he added.

Crain and Garcia met at the 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. That’s how we wanted to do it. There were many missing parts, you can say, as it was before, who entered this business and now what we are doing is filling it” so that all small businesses have the same opportunity with the same amount of resources, which can help them jump start their ideas and grow their business, Crain said.

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They have several guest lecturers with different areas of expertise, such as grants, legal and intellectual property with Dileep Rau of Houston.

Crain’s wife, Sandra, who has 35 years of retail experience, created a customer service program.

The people on the BAM board also have expertise in financing, retail, legal, franchising and many others that help people start their businesses.

Crain said BAM was something that was missing in this area before.

“As a business man myself who had a manufacturing company, I wish there was something like this available to me. You earn hard knocks, but I know that hard knocks cost money. This is a good way to maybe try to help support some of the startups with a rising failure rate like this. That’s what we’re trying to stop,” Crain said.

He added that they have an 80 to 90 percent success rate.

“This is not only because they took our class, but they also took hard mentoring. I think the biggest thing about us is that we don’t make a business plan and send it to a bank. We are partners for business life,” said Crain.

He added that the businesses they have guided can call them even if they have been in business for 10 years or more.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that about 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years of being open, 45% within the first five years, and 65% within the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it for 15 years or more, according to Investopedia.

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BAM also has a weekly podcast called BAM Biz Talk, hosted by Crain and Garcia. They just started Season 2.

Garcia said they had guests in every show, except for the first one where they introduced themselves.

“We try to keep a very diverse group, but you know, it’s focused on the entrepreneur,” Garcia said.

Crain said the first show featured Javier Joven and Midland City Council At-Large member Dan Corrales is a champion of their organization.

One of the next podcasts will feature Midland Mayor Lori Blong.

“We are giving this every two weeks to get to know people who are in our community, who are in business or who are related to businesses, (who) can repeat their experience, their tribulations and their obstacles and things to watch out for when starting out,” said Crain.

“We had fun with this and I think it’s really informative, if you will, for the community and maybe you get to know someone that you want to know and that you can reach out to and touch. These are all people in our community, except for two great professors from the University of Oklahoma and from Lafayette. We have a relationship coming up … maybe later in the first quarter it will be Kansas State University and someone coming from Tulane who will probably do an interview with us as well,” Crain said.


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