Meet the Staff

Peter Knapp

An Interview with Pete Knapp, Senior Graphic Designer and Visual Communication Leader

By Dr. Lauren Goldstein, Technical Writer and Research Analyst

When did you start your position at Arrowhead Center?

I started in 2014, it’s really amazing to think about that. How far we’ve been able to come design-wise in such a short amount of time.

Wow! I would have guessed you have been here longer than that! What would you say is your biggest accomplishment, then, over the past couple of years at Arrowhead?

You’re right, it isn’t very long! I would say there are two major things—first, accomplishing strong branding and communicating a strong, cohesive brand identity across the board. There are multiple programs, initiatives, and events at Arrowhead. Maintaining an impactful, recognizable visual presence has been a huge accomplishment.

Also, I can say that Arrowhead is supportive of students—student interns, graduate students, TCAs (Technology Commercialization Associates). This is one of the most collaborative environments I’ve ever worked in, and it extends to students. They are able to build their portfolios here in a meaningful way. I watched student designers create a collaborative project that is now housed at the Aggie Innovation Space. Watching them build it from the early stages, to when they saw it in its final form on the wall was cool. They were proud of the work they did and so was I.

What made you interested in graphic design as a young person?

I was always interested in street art and have had a fascination with typography. I was fortunate to be around influential people growing up who encouraged me to pursue art. I learned that it was important to not only work with paper and paint and other mediums, but to learn how to use digital tools as well. My dad was actually the one who pointed me toward DACC’s digital media program.

Is your dad an artist, too?

No, my dad’s a meteorologist! But he’s always been super encouraging and supportive of my art and career.

Did you start college in the DACC program?

Well, I ended up there. First I decided to major in Psychology at the main campus as a Freshman. I decided pretty quick that wasn’t for me. I guess it’s good I figured that out sooner than later! It was around that time when my dad told me about the DACC digital media courses. I pursued that and loved the program. I learned the essential elements of programs like Photoshop and InDesign, and also just learned how to be a student—how to ask questions, how to study, how to work. I was actually really sad if I had to miss a class, I was dedicated!

The other thing that was influential about attending DACC was that I was able to learn core digital design programs from amazing professors. When I transferred to main campus, to the Art Department, I realized it was a professional advantage. Many of my classmates did not have that digital media background. It served me well. While I was working on developing my own aesthetic and processes as an artist, I was able to start moving my conceptual ideas on paper into digital forms. It was another way to work in a creative space.

I’ve heard you express before how much you like working here. What’s your favorite part of working for Arrowhead?

There are many things, like I said the collaborative environment is awesome. I’d have to say, too, that nothing is every monotonous. Each week there are new projects and challenges and it makes my work days exciting. Also, within each program at Arrowhead, there is a spark of creativity that is unique to that program. It’s been fun to find those creative sparks and build on them.

Student Entrepreneurs Score Investments At Aggie Shark Tank

Five Companies run by student entrepreneurs at NMSU gave their best pitches to local investors at the “Aggie Shark Tank” in hopes of taking their businesses to the next level. Just about $80,000 was invested in total across the five companies.

The businesses that gave their pitches at the Aggie Shark Tank ranged from sports equipment, to retro gaming, to health technology. One of the day’s big winners was VR Health Journeys; the 4 sharks invested $30,000 for 20% of the company, and they also won cash prizes for being both the Shark Favorite and the Crowd Favorite.

Steve Eiserling one of the Co-Founders of VR Health Journeys says the company brings Virtual Reality Equipment into health care facilities to help improve the quality of life for patients.

“It also started with basically just wanting to help people that are in palliative care try to get out of their environments because they are stuck in it,” Eiserling said. “And so we use Virtual Reality Equipment to bring experiences to them so they can get out and express themselves, and we found along the terms as we’re doing this there is also a benefit in pain relief and things like that as well too, so it’s been kind of a double whammy.”

The Journey has been driven by personal goals as well as financial ones. Billy Welsh, the other Co-Founder of VR Health Journeys has Cerebral Palsy and wanted to find a way to help friends and loved ones in long-term care facilities.

“I realize that there is a lot of boredom and a lot of things go on,” Welsh said. “And it get really depressing because you’re stuck in a room, especially when you’re a kid. You want to go out and play, but you can’t go out and play because of physical and mental things. So, we’re offering people a solution to let people use state of the art virtual reality, so that they can see the world beyond their room or the bed that their confined to.”

Eiserling says the investment will help them get the equipment and start providing services to local facilities who have already expressed interest in their services.

“We’re going to look at cancer and dialysis centers because they deal with a lot of time that they have to waste as well as chronic pain,” Eiserling said. “Senior Centers as well as other long-term care facilities, and drug and alcohol treatment centers too.”

Beto Pallares, one of the Sharks who invested in the company, says this is one of the most innovative uses for Virtual Reality he’s seen.

“What I found really exciting is the ability to link the aspect of Virtual Reality to a real, known market,” Pallares said. “And this case it’s the therapeutic market, whether it’s for older people, or people in therapies and I found that to be really novel and a really good thing to invest in.”

Pallares says tech is a good industry to invest in.

“If you want to create a culture of innovation,” Pallares said. “You have to support the people who are going out to the edge and saying I have this idea, and I need to validate it in this way or that way. We can’t just assume that the only technology we have access to is what we buy from Amazon, or what we go to Best Buy for, we have to invest in our own innovation.”

Billy Welsh is excited to see the impact that VR Health Journeys can have.

“My goal is honestly to get this in every hospital all over the world,” Welsh said. “To change the face of the medical industry is viewed, to get people off of prescription drugs, to make life a little bit more fun.”

All Five companies that pitched at the Aggie Shark Tank received some type of assistance, whether it is money, time, or business connections.

Finalists to make presentations in NMSU Arrowhead Center’s Launch competition

Date: 04/20/2016

Writer: Adriana M. Chavez, 575-646-1957,

Finalists of the Launch competition sponsored by Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University will pitch their final presentations next week at the Launch Day event.

NMSU Geological Sciences Department Head Nancy McMillan presents her Chemical Analysis on the Go: Backpack Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy at Arrowhead Center’s Launch event in November. (NMSU photo by Karrie Lucero)

Arrowhead Center began offering the Launch proof of concept center, or POCC, in 2011. It offers NMSU innovative entrepreneurs with resources such as direct business mentorship, market analysis, demonstration-validation sources, cash investment and access to investment networks.

Finalists will make their presentations beginning at 1:30 p.m. April 28 in the Domenici Hall Yates Theater on the NMSU campus. A reception will follow the pitch presentations. NMSU faculty, staff and students are invited to help select winners for the Crowd Favorite, Social Media Favorite and Grand awards.

“Launch helps grow early-state research and technologies into marketable products and services. At the end of the three-month program, the selected participants – who receive seed funding, mentorship, marketing and product development services, and education for investment readiness – vie for various awards, including the grand Launch award,” said Terry Lombard, director of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer at NMSU.

The Intellectual Property Office at Arrowhead Center is where the Launch program resides.

“Launch is supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration i6 Challenge program, with the goal of bringing to market the nation’s most promising and emerging ideas and technologies,” said Shanta Thoutam, Launch competition director. “Additionally, the Launch cohorts who met and exceeded their plans and milestones not only have a marketable product or company, but also worked on aspects such as discovering and profiling their potential customers to understand their pains and gains and applying those aspects to develop a much stronger product.”

Thoutam said this round of Launch was quite competitive, and that the cohorts participated “with great zeal” and took the program to the next level.

“I think each of them deserves a better chance to win the grand Launch award,” said Thoutam, who added that she has watched the Launch program grow and evolve over the last five years of coordinating and managing the competition.

To register to attend, visit Voters may select the Social Media Favorite of Launch finalists at

Finalists include the Go: Backpack Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Equus, Maestro Review System, Small-Scale Low-Temp Multiple Effect, and Distillation for Brackish Groundwater.

Mexican students team with NMSU’s Arrowhead Center to increase economic development

Date: 04/06/2016

Writer: Lauren Goldstein, 575-646-5069,

This week, students from the groundbreaking program Atrévete a Emprender, or “Dare to Be an Entrepreneur,” will team with New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center for a weeklong residency. The program, which spans two countries and aims to increase regional economic collaboration and diversify industry, began last March and will continue for the next 12 weeks.

Griselda Martinez and Jorge Ramos of Arrowhead Center developed and implemented the program in partnership with officials from Mexico City’s local government as a public call to students, faculty and researchers from five public universities in Mexico to take part in innovative entrepreneurial development. Their invitation, titled “200 Words Can Change Your Life,” was a call for teams of two to four people to submit a business idea in a 200-word proposal to Atrévete a Emprender. The public call for participation was a new approach to attracting potential entrepreneurs from Mexico. For the teams who have moved through the program, the experience has been life changing.

“If you follow the process from the start to where we are now the self-motivation, exponential growth and creativity of these entrepreneurs and teams is amazing to see,” said Griselda Martinez, co-director of Atrévete a Emprender.

Martinez and Ramos expected around 200 proposals, but said they were floored when initial submissions from teams totaled close to 400. From these initial applications, they selected 50 teams to participate in a business model canvas workshop, held in Mexico City. The next stage included a video submission and live presentation, after which Ramos and Martinez selected 25 teams and worked with them on a business model and in-depth market research.

In a highly selective and competitive process, 10 teams were then selected to work with Arrowhead Center for a 12-week incubation period to explore U.S. and global markets. This week, these 10 teams arrive for a one-week residency at Arrowhead to conduct interviews with potential buyers, meet with Arrowhead’s investor-in-residence, and take workshops on customer discovery. The teams’ final live presentations on Thursday will be attended by venture capitalists who will visit as potential investors, partners, and mentors.

“By launching this program, Arrowhead is looking to recruit entrepreneurs into New Mexico and increase international deal flow of technologies. This creates the possibility for business creation in the state and beyond, while strengthening economic ties within Borderplex region,” Ramos said.

Kathy Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center, sees this as a unique opportunity for growth.

“We are excited, it’s a great potential for developing relationships with these companies and students to help them succeed,” Hansen said.

For more information on Atrévete a Emprender and other programs and events at Arrowhead Center

Two NMSU scientists patent valuable research thanks to Arrowhead Center

Date: 04/12/2016

Writer: Adriana M. Chavez, 575-646-1957,

Two scientists at New Mexico State University have secured patents for their revolutionary research thanks to the guidance offered at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center.

NMSU chemical engineering doctoral candidate Nasser Khazeni and interim Plant and Environmental Sciences Department head Rolston St. Hilaire spoke about their research and collaboration with Arrowhead at a recent Scholarly Excellence Rally at the Stan Fulton Center Third Floor Bistro.

Khazeni, with the help of NMSU faculty members Abbas Ghassemi, Reza Foudazi and Jalal Rastegary, has developed a special material that can capture carbon dioxide with greater capacity than any technology currently in use. Carbon dioxide capture has the potential to significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

“Global warming is something that is not just discussed at a conference. It’s something that all people are now sensing,” Khazeni said. “All the consequences like drought and floods are the things that have motivated me to do something to maybe help mitigate this global warming problem and its consequences.”

Khazeni later realized that if another researcher learned about his Co2 capture technology they could patent it. His advisor, Ghassemi, introduced Khazeni to Arrowhead Center, and Khazeni began working with Arrowhead staff on how to protect his technology.

“We got to a point where we understood we had something that might have some commercial impact, and he (Ghassemi) introduced us to Arrowhead to follow their route to protect our idea,” Khazeni said. “We were very worried, especially when we understood that being published in a journal, it’s not enough to protect it, especially if somebody else comes and gathers all the information and patents it. Then he’s the one who owns that idea.”

Arrowhead helped Khazeni obtain publicity about his Co2 technology to help establish his research, and worked with Khazeni and his research team to obtain a patent. Also with the help of Arrowhead, Khazeni was recently approved for funding through the National Science Foundation I-Corps program.

St. Hilaire’s research also has an environmental impact. He and his research team have developed a hardy, drought-resistant cultivar of the Bigtooth Maple tree that boasts beautiful crimson-colored foliage in the fall. St. Hilaire started his research in 1998 at Iowa State University, where he studied Black and Sugar maple trees.

“My research with the Bigtooth Maple looks at how best to select plants from different areas in select locations, and try to select those for use in commercial or managed landscapes. To do so, we bring in plant materials from those diverse origins and try to test them and see if there’s some possibility that some of the genotypes might work in a commercial setting or in a regular back yard,” St. Hilaire said.

But while working with J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. Wholesale Tree Growers in Oregon, St. Hilaire discovered that in order to work with commercial growers, he needed to decipher the technical wording contained in licensing agreements.

“At that point I thought I needed a little more help, and that’s when I contacted Arrowhead to help me sort through that licensing agreement. They helped me through the patenting process, which was something that I had no idea was so involved,” St. Hilaire said. “They provided the resources, the attorneys and the guidance.

“Being a scientist, sometimes you huddle behind your desk and you’re not thinking of the commercial or applied aspects of your work. I think Arrowhead has done a fantastic job in helping us move our research from the bench, from the scientific literature into the commercial and into the local and regional and hopefully national market.”

Arrowhead Center has several programs in place to help faculty and students commercialize their research.

“Arrowhead is excited to be working with these scientists and helping to move NMSU innovation from the laboratory to the market and consumers,” said Kathy Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center.

Arrowhead Center hits a bull’s-eye

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

Published: Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 12:02am

Updated: Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 at 2:15pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Kramer Winingham took over in 2013 as director of New Mexico State University’s Studio G startup incubator for students and alumni, only three people were receiving program assistance to get new businesses off the ground.

But, today, about 150 students and alumni are working with Studio G, reflecting explosive growth over the past three years at Arrowhead Center Inc., the nonprofit entity that runs Studio G, and all other entrepreneurship and technology transfer programs at NMSU.

Through Arrowhead, university faculty, staff, students and alumni can gain access to a broad range of business services, from mentoring, coaching and training to assistance with marketing, industry contacts and potential funding opportunities.

As a result, a new-found interest in entrepreneurship is spreading across campus.

“We’ve worked with more than 300 student entrepreneurs since 2013,” Winningham said. “We currently have more than 100 active ventures in Studio G, all of them run by students or recent alumni.”

Arrowhead’s activities are now growing so fast that the center – currently housed in about 13,000 square feet of pods on the south end of campus – barely has room to operate. That’s generated plans for a new 64,000-square-foot facility to unite Studio G and all of Arrowhead’s other programs under one roof, and to provide space for startups and established businesses to co-locate there. The university expects to break ground on the facility this summer, with a grand opening targeted for mid-2017.

“It’s like sardines now but, with the new facility, we’ll be able to get everyone in one place,” said Arrowhead Director Kathryn Hansen. “That’s important to facilitate all the collisions and networking that are critical to our programs. It will become a true showplace that reflects everything we’re doing.”

Slow start

Such growing pains are a novel, but welcome, burden for Arrowhead, which has struggled since launching in 2004 to build momentum for tech-transfer programs and startups at NMSU.

In its first years, the center encouraged some faculty to pursue commercialization of technologies emerging from university labs, providing assistance to protect intellectual property and for marketing activities. But those programs never really took off until 2011, when Arrowhead won a $2 million, three-year i6 Challenge grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. The funding allowed NMSU to fully develop and expand Arrowhead’s fledgling Launch Proof of Concept program, which was set up prior to the i6 grant to help students and faculty commercialize university technologies.

Launch has since become a magnet for new commercialization endeavors, where aspiring entrepreneurs with the most promising NMSU technologies are selected to receive four months of business training and mentoring, plus some initial, nominal funding. Graduating companies then compete for grants of up to $25,000 to continue building their businesses, with a total of $50,000 available for projects each year.

To date, Launch has awarded $250,000 in seed funding to 14 commercial projects, Hansen said.

Alongside Launch, Arrowhead has built an “innovation network” with about 145 industry experts, investors, entrepreneurs and business professionals from around New Mexico. Participants provide consulting and advice on NMSU’s technology transfer programs, and offer mentoring, coaching and technical assistance to university startups.

And the i6 grant paved the way for Studio G, which Arrowhead set up in 2012 to assist students and alumni in building businesses, based either on NMSU innovation or on their own ideas for products and services.

“The grant had a transformational nature on our programs,” Hansen said. “It allowed Studio G to be successful and it helped us push technology commercialization through the Launch Proof of Concept Center.”

In addition, the innovation network – which includes many of the movers and shakers involved in startup programs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe – has provided a solid base of support that Arrowhead previously lacked.

“You can’t go it alone,” Hansen said. “People around the state and beyond have been incredibly generous with their time and expertise.”

Spreading out

Arrowhead has tapped into other key federal funding programs to provide more direct support to startups with university technology. Through assistance from Launch, six companies won grants of $50,000 each from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Program to accelerate their paths to market.

That includes some cutting-edge technologies that could impact a range of industries, such as a new material to better capture and store carbon dioxide, a novel gyroscope design for nano satellites and an all-natural pesticide for organic growers.

Arrowhead also won a three-year, $300,000 NSF award to become an iCorps program site. That allows NMSU to provide grants of up to $2,000 each for 30 startups annually. Each startup participates in a five-week business accelerator training and mentoring program, after which those companies become eligible to apply for NSF’s $50,000 iCorps. grants.

In February, Arrowhead also won a new, $369,000 EDA grant to extend Studio G, Launch and other services to Doña Ana Community College, and to NMSU’s branch campuses in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants.

Those receiving Arrowhead services say that, without the support programs, many technologies might never leave university labs.

Luke Smith, an NMSU graduate marketing the university’s new organic pesticide, said Arrowhead helped him access $150,000 in funding and technical assistance.

“Nothing would have happened without Arrowhead’s help,” Smith said. “That technology would have stayed on the shelf.”

Likewise, student entrepreneurs say Studio G is helping them develop and market innovative products and services. That includes lots of novel apps and creative retail products, such as handmade soap made with goats milk and organic oils and wax for beards and mustaches.

NMSU is now working to generate needed seed and early-stage capital for startups through a planned $2 million Arrowhead Innovation Fund that will include $500,000 from the NMSU Foundation and $1.5 million from private investors.

And it’s working with the local business community on other initiatives, such as a marketing and crowd funding website with the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance called CrucesKick. The site launched in March with an initial campaign to raise funds for four NMSU startups.

Perhaps most important, Arrowhead is generating a cultural change on campus by helping university personnel see entrepreneurship and technology transfer as a key part of what they do. That’s a sea change for many scientists and academics, who often think commercial activities are unimportant.

More faculty are seeking center services, with 20 or more invention disclosures from researchers annually and 25 new patent applications filed since 2014, said Terry Lombard, Arrowhead director of intellectual property and technology transfer.

And student involvement helps inspire faculty.

“It’s offering students education and training through experiential learning,” said NMSU Vice President for Economic Development Kevin Boberg.

In that sense, Arrowhead wins even when student startups fail.

“We don’t expect all these students to create successful businesses off the bat, but they’re learning critical workplace skills, such as communication, team work and hypothesis testing,” Hansen said. “All that makes students more valuable employees. It’s a big contribution to workplace development even when businesses don’t work out.”

Arrowhead innovation fund preps to distribute

A lot more seed and early-stage capital could begin flowing into fledgling startups at New Mexico State University this summer thanks to a new innovation fund being set up by NMSU’s Arrowhead Center Inc.

Arrowhead, which manages all of the university’s technology transfer and commercialization programs, announced its intent last year to establish a $2 million Arrowhead Innovation Fund to make $50,000 to $150,000 investments in startups that either work to develop and market new NMSU technologies, or that were launched by NMSU faculty, staff, students or alumni with compelling ideas for new products and services.

The NMSU Foundation committed up to $500,000 as the fund’s anchor investor. That money is conditioned on Arrowhead’s ability to raise $1.5 million more from private investors. But, once Arrowhead has raised at least $750,000, the first $250,000 of the foundation’s commitment kicks in, allowing the fund to begin operating while Arrowhead continues to raise more money. At that point, the foundation will contribute 25 cents for every new dollar of private money raised, providing up to $250,000 more for the fund.

The fund, which is set up as a for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Arrowhead Center, has raised $300,000 to date, including $200,000 from Hunt Holdings Limited Partnership LLC – the investment arm for Hunt Cos. in El Paso – and $100,000 from unnamed NMSU alumni, said fund Manager Estela Hernandez. Arrowhead expects to close on the first $1 million by June to begin investing in startups over the summer, with a second close in November when it hopes to reach the full $2 million target.

“We have a number of soft commitments now,” Hernandez said. “We’ll be doing a fundraising road show in May and June to hold information sessions for potential investors around New Mexico, including Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Santa Fe.”

Arrowhead will apply for money from the State Investment Council’s new $20 million “fund of funds” once the SIC begins evaluating applicants. The fund of funds, which the SIC approved last January, will invest money into micro funds around the state that provide seed and early-stage capital to startup companies.

Sun Mountain Capital, charged with managing the fund of funds, is already eyeing Arrowhead as a potential target for investment.

“They’re definitely a candidate,” said Sun Mountain partner Lee Rand. “They’re still putting the fund together, but they’re definitely in our pipeline as a good fit that we’d like to look at.”

Seed and early-stage capital are critical to the future success of new companies being formed with help from the Arrowhead Center. In the past few years, the center has created two startup incubators, one to facilitate development of companies taking NMSU technology to market, and the other to train and assist students and others who want to take the entrepreneurial plunge with their own ideas. The latter, dubbed Studio G, has to date helped about 100 startup ventures.

But very little local capital is available to assist those companies in launching and growing their businesses, said Studio G Director Kramer Winingham. Arrowhead has successfully connected many with grant funding, particularly from federal agencies, but not with private equity.

“We’ve managed to tap into federal funding, such as the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program, with grants of $50,000 each awarded to five NMSU companies last year,” Winingham said. “But private investment capital is probably our biggest challenge right now. Public money is good to start, but we need the private capital and the expertise that comes with it to build these companies.”

In fact, the $50,000 NSF awards are the largest single source of funding raised through individual grants to date, leaving a critical funding gap in the $50,000 to $200,000 range, Hernandez said. That next level of funding constitutes the seed money needed for startups to further develop their products and services, test markets and potentially show enough proof of concept to attract more private equity to move forward.

“That’s the ‘valley of death’ that we need to bridge,” Hernandez said. “There’s a real funding gap there to help entrepreneurs get their companies and technologies to the next level of development.”

By helping promising startups bridge that gap, NMSU and its supporters hope to generate more interest from private investors and entrepreneurs to look at university startups and commit money to the local ecosystem.

“NMSU has lots of unique and interesting technologies, but it needs the seed capital to bring them to market and attract other later-stage investments,” said Beto Pallares, an El Paso-based venture investor who is working with Arrowhead to develop funding opportunities. “It will help a lot when this fund is up and running. There are many people who do want to invest here because they see some very good opportunities.”

Pallares is cofounder and former partner in Cottonwood Technologies, a New Mexico-based seed and early-stage investment fund. He is also founder of Joseph Advisory Services, which advises Hunt Holdings, the El Paso venture firm that’s now putting money in the Arrowhead fund.

“I manage investments on a national basis and what I’ve seen at NMSU in terms of unique technologies competes with anything I’ve seen elsewhere,” Pallares said. “They’re percolating technologies right now that we can pull the trigger on when the fund is operating and I believe that will open the door to lots of co-investors.”

To qualify for investments, startups will need to meet prudent milestones for review by both the fund’s investment committee and the its board of directors, Hernandez said. That includes significant proof of concept for new products and services, plus market research that shows likelihood of success and ability to compete in targeted industries.

NMSU expects to invest most of the fund in startups over three or four years. As companies succeed, investment partners will earn returns and the original capital will be cycled back into the fund as an “evergreen” source of investment, Hernandez said.

Arrowhead is the first venture fund that the NMSU Foundation has committed to. Endowment managers unanimously approved participation to help build a sustainable ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurial development at NMSU, and in the local community, said foundation President Andrea Tawney.

“What better way to do that than to invest in ourselves, in our university and our community,” Tawney said. “We need to do that to get this fund off the ground and to help get other investors on board.”



MONDAY, APRIL 18TH, 2016 AT 12:02AM


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Big Top Beard Co. is finding a modern niche for an old-school product.

The company, created by New Mexico State University alumni C.J. Schero and Luke Dumke, makes and markets organic moisturizing and growth-oriented beard oils and wax. The two created their own blends with hemp, castor, sweet almond and jojoba oils.

“There’s a big following for these products among lumber-sexual male beardsmen,” Schero said. “Those are millennials between 20 and 35 who have beards, wear plaid shirts and jeans, use trucker boots and have traded in the ax for a laptop.”

And lest those beardsmen not recognize the need for oil and wax, Schero and Dumke are counting on significant others to open their eyes.

“The typical beard is scraggly and wirey, so moisturizing oil is more for significant others,” Schero said. “You’re not the one who has to kiss your beard – they do – and our products are heavily scented with an essential oil blend.”

The Arrowhead Center’s Studio G business incubator has helped Big Top Beard with marketing and advertising.

“Studio G came later in the process as we were about to bring out our products,” Schero said. “They’ve provided us good advice to build target markets. As a premium product, we want to be in the organic scene.”

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

MONDAY, APRIL 18TH, 2016 AT 12:02AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Fashion design student Gabriel Méndez believes he’s found a niche in the high-value selvedge denim market with custom-made clothing and repair services.

Selvedge denim, woven with old-fashioned weaving techniques, draws a premium from high-end buyers who like the pants’ sturdy structure and visually unique features.

Méndez launched El Campo Clothing Co. last year after acquiring some industrial sewing machines and he’s now weaving custom-made selvedge denim jeans for $80 to $100 a pair. He also does clothing repairs and alterations, and makes other accessories, such as bags and aprons.

He joined the Arrowhead Center’s Studio G this year to get help in growing his business.

“They can help me with marketing studies, building relationships and hopefully raising some capital,” Méndez said.

Méndez also wants to expand into the nonprofit sector, potentially working with felons to offer jobs and to produce low- or no-cost clothing for homeless people.

“I’m in the relationship-building stage now,” Méndez said. “With help from Studio G, I’m meeting with foundations and grass-roots organizations.”
Roots Leather Co. evokes Guatemala

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 12:02am

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Maria Mercedes Colato and her son, Luis, are selling handmade leather bags, boots, wallets and other accessories adorned with brilliant, colorful Mayan-based artwork from their native Guatemala.

Owner Maria Mercedes Colato and her son, Luis Colato, operate Roots Leather Co., selling handmade leather goods produced in Guatemala. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)

Owner Maria Mercedes Colato and her son, Luis Colato, operate Roots Leather Co., selling handmade leather goods produced in Guatemala. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)

The products are all designed by Maria and produced by partners in Guatemala City, whom the mother-and-son team met while visiting the country last summer. To date, they’ve sold about $50,000 in goods through six boutique outlets in Las Cruces, El Paso, Ruidoso and Juárez.

Apart from building a novel business in Las Cruces, the enterprise has created about a dozen new jobs for Guatemalans involved in the manufacturing operation, while allowing the Colatos to promote their native culture.

“We have a passion for where we come from, and most people don’t know about Guatemala and its amazing beauty and handcrafts,” said Luis, 17. “We want to share it with the world.”

Studio G at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center has provided mentoring and technical assistance from the start, said Luis, a high-school senior who interned at the business incubator before launching Roots Leather Co. last fall with his mother. Studio G helped them set up the business, seek target markets and promote their products.

It’s now helping raise funds through CrucesKick, a new crowdfunding and marketing website that Arrowhead and the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance launched jointly in March.

“Studio G has done an amazing job,” he said. “They helped us get the ball rolling, orienting us with checklists on everything we needed to do while helping us get our products out to market.”

Mercedes said the process is offering critical life skills for her son. “It’s giving him hands-on experience in starting his own business, and at such a young age.”


Entrepreneuring #8 - Angela Simental of QuintEssence

Entrepreneuring #9 - Jocelyn Moffett


Studio G Networking Hour: Disciplined Entrepreneurship Series

When: May 4, 2016

Where: Arrowhead Center, 3655 Research Drive, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Women’s Career Success Conference in Las Cruces

When: May 4, 2016

Where: Arrowhead Park, 4605 Research Park Circle Las Cruces, NM 88003

Time: 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm

Studio G Startup Showcase

When: May 5, 2016

Where: Corbett Center Student Union, NMSU, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003

Time: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Startup Las Cruces Meetup Group

When: May 18, 2016

Where: The Game Sports Bar and Grill, 2605 South Espina Street Las Cruces, NM 88001

Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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