Entrepreneurship Week held at Troy University’s IDEA Bank was a week full of learning opportunities and the chance to gain one-on-one knowledge of how to build, grow and sustain a business in a series of sessions led by local business owners—many of them also former TROY graduates.
Lynne Firmin George, Director of Economic Development and the IDEA Bank, said the week couldn’t have gone better.
“Most of the programs were full at max capacity, and I’ve already noticed more walk-ins and more calls and emails and inquiries, which is great,” she said. “We’ve also gotten great feedback from the students who came, which is key. I want students to come here and interact and tell us what they need so we can help them.”
One of the big purposes of Entrepreneurship Week was to highlight all of the things the IDEA Bank can do to helpnot just students, but members of the community with achieving their entrepreneurial goals, and George said that purpose was realized multiple times over.
“On Friday, I had someone who saw us on the news and had an idea and questions come in to see if she could work with us, which is the outcome I wanted,” she said. “I think the week went great, and the turnout was better than I expected.”
TROY alumni had a large part to play in the event’s success; of the five sessions, four were led by TROY grads or current professors.
“The alumni that participated in Entrepreneurship Week were crucial, just game changers in our programing. Each one of them have such unique stories, and the students were able to really connect with them,” George said. “It’s so different for students when you bring someone in who doesn’t work at the university but went to school there, knows the community and can just relate. Not only were they sharing their areas of expertise, they were connecting with the students personally and giving them advice and inspiring them.”
Will Pouncey opened the week with his “Back of the Napkin Numbers” talk followed by a roundtable discussion featuring seasoned business owners Lyndsay Cox Taylor, Frank Marquette and JR Eason. On Wednesday, Graphic Design Professor Chris Stagl walked attendees through creating a logo and branding strategies, and Danielle Wallace followed up the next day on the importance of bridging the digital gap with brand storytelling.
Both Pouncey and Eason jumped on board with their business ideas early, while Taylor and Wallace experienced different careers before becoming business owners. George said she was glad for students to receive both perspectives.
“Lyndsay and Danielle have more experience so they could share more about their overall journey, but to see someone who’s so young already achieving success in their entrepreneurial goals was encouraging for them,” she said. “Having (the students) be able to see the short term with Will and JR to also seeing people who worked a corporate job and broke out of it…both types of stories are important.”
The IDEA Bank opened earlier this year and George said their goal is to host more programs as people become aware of everything they have to offer. The next big event will be held Oct. 12 from noon to 1 p.m. and will focus on how small businesses owners can use TikTok—a popular new social media platform that uses videos to connect with others around the world—to grow and expand.
Get to know the speakers below:
Pouncey is the President and Lead Finance Consultant for Optics Consulting, a management consulting firm advising business owners in three key stages of the business life cycle: startup, growth, and sale. His session Monday afternoon, named “Back of the Napkin Numbers,” focused on creating good financial projections in the startup phase of creating a business.
Pouncey’s responsibilities as a finance consultant include merger and acquisition advising, startup funding, growth strategy and financial forecasting/modeling. He is also the primary advisor for Optics with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at TROY.
Pouncey earned his master’s degree in economics from Troy University in 2020 and is certified in financial modeling and valuation. When not working, he can be found spending time with his fiancé, Bailey, and their German Shepherd, Bexar (Bear), playing golf, chess or working in his woodshop.
Before coming to TROY, Frank Marquette, Professor of Professional Practice, founded and managed a creative engineering and manufacturing company delivering outcomes for the motion picture, television, museum, amusement park and robotic material handling industries for 25 years. His clients included Walt Disney Imagineering, the producers of “The Lord of the Rings,” the National Museum of New Zealand and a host of commercial and private projects related to experiential world creation and autonomous vehicle systems.
Utilizing digital design and manufacturing technologies with an emphasis on Additive Manufacturing (Industrial 3D Printing), Marquette was charged to develop an academic program to blend high-tech manufacturing with higher education at Troy University. The program is currently a minor and offers students mastery over digital design tools for AM blended with project-based learning and internships. Students successfully completing the program graduate with concept, design and manufacturing skills with an understanding of “constructive disruption” as it applies to the current industrial revolution.
JR’s passion as an entrepreneur began at an early age when he started his online resell store in high school that helped pay his way through college. Since graduating in 2017, JR has worked for Troy University and is currently employed with Harmon Dennis Bradshaw as an individual and group benefits advisor.
Eason is a founding member of Fuse Coffee, located on the square in Troy, and still runs his online resell store at night and on the weekends along with a flea market booth. He also helped start the Pike County Young Professionals organization that aims to foster some of the younger talent in the hopes that it will help strengthen the age gap in the community.
Eason said he is continuously seeking out other opportunities to start and grow other businesses and that his true desire in life is to help people, whether that be through his day-to-day role at “HDB” or by providing guidance to others entrepreneurship goals.
Eason and his wife, Haley, reside in Troy, and the pair are excited for the growth in the community and hope to keep “planting their roots” in the years to come.
Lyndsay Cox Taylor
A Crenshaw County native, Taylor is a graduate of Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business. Immediately upon graduation, she entered into direct sales followed by several years of recruiting in the Troy University Office of Admissions.
Ten years ago, Taylor opened a wine and cheese bar that quickly evolved into a full-service restaurant. Sips on the Square, soon to be Sips Beer Garden and Food Court, was named Pike County’s Business of the Year in 2014 and Restaurant of the Year in 2016. After a few years into the restaurant business, she started investing in property in Downtown Troy and has now branched out into long-and-short term rental properties, earning Superhost Status through AirBnB since 2018.
Taylor is an advocate of entrepreneurship and looks forward to many more years of being a business and property owner.
Chris Stagl is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Assistant Chair of Art & Design at Troy University, where he has been on the faculty since 2020.
Stagl has been active in design since 1992 when he began working in print shops and screen printing companies in Ocala, Florida. His design interests lie in typography, identity, video and storytelling, and he takes great pride in having his work showcased in galleries and in print but truly enjoys seeing the successes of his students.
Stagl has taught in Florida, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama and considers himself lucky to have been presented with so many opportunities to travel and see the country.
Currently, he serves as the Education Chair for the Montgomery Advertising Federation where he hopes to build an outlet for his students to transition seamlessly into the design and advertising industry.
Wallace is the owner and brand copywriter of Chayil Media Publishing where she helps powerhouse brands flip facts into cohesive, sales-driven narratives. She’s also the founder of a digital/print magazine called “Memoirs of a Virtuous Woman.”
Wallace is a proud graduate of Troy University’s Hall School of Journalism and Communication, where she studied broadcast journalism. A former TV news reporter who has served communities in central and southeast Alabama, she now brings the “journalist mindset” to helping her clients strategize ways to stand out, digging deeper into the facts and being full of curiosity for her clients’ content.