Arrowhead Center November 2015 Newsletter

A Note from the Director

One of Arrowhead Center’s greatest assets is the team we’ve assembled in recent years: a diverse group of professionals with different backgrounds, but a shared goal to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. As you will read below, our team has grown with the addition of Dr. Michael Patrick, who is our new Extension Specialist and Economic Development Coordinator. With his rich history in NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service, Dr. Patrick has connections throughout New Mexico and will link Arrowhead Center with individuals and communities who will benefit from our services and the resources of the university. We are so pleased to have Dr. Patrick onboard and look forward to reaching more stakeholders in the coming year.

You will also read about recent advances in NMSU’s outstanding research community, including the work of Dr. Christopher Cramer, a professor of horticulture whose new cultivar of onion is being promoted through Arrowhead’s commercialization networks.

Finally, we want to provide an update on one of Arrowhead’s most exciting new initiatives: Aggie Shark Tank. Based on the hit television show Shark Tank, NMSU-based entrepreneurs pitch their business and product ideas to local experts and investors. The most recent event was our largest to date, with nearly 170 audience members joining the presenters and Sharks. As you will read, $45,000 was committed to two of the startup ventures, and connections for ongoing advice and mentoring were forged for all participants.

Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us. Please share with us your latest news, as well. We hope to hear from you.

Kathy Hansen

Director and CEO of Arrowhead Center

Entrepreneurial NMSU Students Jump into the ‘Aggie Shark Tank’

Date: 10/13/2015

Writer: Amanda Bradford

They’re circling. Four greats of the Las Cruces business community are lurking on campus, ready to sink their teeth into promising 'entrepreneurial ideas from New Mexico State University students. And on Oct. 23, the university’s entrepreneurship engine, Arrowhead Center, will chum the waters with presentations from some of its top clients who are ready to take the plunge.

Judges, from left, Dino Cervantes of Cervantes Enterprises, real estate developer Mickey Clute, Royal Jones of Mesilla Valley Transportation and Lou Sisbarro of Sisbarro Dealerships, listen to entrepreneur Taylor Burgett, CEO of Byteware, during the Aggie Shark Tank event in August.

Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, welcomes judges and participants to the Aggie Shark Tank event in August at Pete V. Domenici Hall. (Photo for NMSU by Andrés Leighton)

Cue the “Jaws” theme: Duh-nuh.

It’s all part of “Aggie Shark Tank,” a new initiative based on the popular “Shark Tank” television series, in which aspiring entrepreneurs present their ideas to a panel of business experts for feedback and potential investment.

The current school of Las Cruces “Sharks” includes chile farmer and agribusiness leader Dino Cervantes, real estate developer Mickey Clute, Mesilla Valley Transportation owner Royal Jones, and Sisbarro Dealerships owner Lou Sisbarro. Organizers have announced the addition of a visiting “mystery shark” whose identity will be revealed at the event.

It was Sisbarro who brought the idea of “Aggie Shark Tank” to Arrowhead Center, as another way he and other business owners could invest their time, knowledge – and perhaps some funding – in support of entrepreneurial students.

“I’m fascinated by the entrepreneurship program here at NMSU,” Sisbarro said. “We can help these students as mentors and give them direction and leadership. This is all about helping them succeed.”

The Oct. 23 event, which takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Yates Theatre in Domenici Hall on campus, is open to the public. Aggie Shark Tank events in May and August gave the sharks the opportunity to try out the concept and get a look at some of the ideas being developed through Studio G, Arrowhead’s student business incubator.

Competitors at the event will include NMSU students and recent alumni pitching products with applications in the automotive, health care, restaurant, social media and wine industries.

Brooke Higginbotham, a genetics and biotechnology master’s student, was selected as the “Shark Favorite” during the August event for her biomedical technology design. Higginbotham says she learned a lot from talking with the sharks and watching the other presenters talk about their ideas.

“I made a lot of good connections,” Higginbotham said. “The sharks asked great questions. The whole experience of working with Arrowhead Center on this has been great from the beginning.”

In addition to any investment offers the entrepreneurs might receive, two cash prizes will be awarded – $1,000 for the audience favorite and $2,500 for the shark favorite.

“Our sharks really have the opportunity to contribute directly to the success of these businesses,” said Kathy Hansen, Arrowhead Center’s director. “The experience, expertise and feel for markets that they have is so valuable to Arrowhead clients working on entrepreneurial ventures.”

“This is fun!” Sisbarro added. “We are enjoying this, and I think we can make this something big.”

For more information and to register to attend,

Mexican Students Complete Innovative Internship Program at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center

Date: 10/16/2015

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

Twenty-two students from Mexico have completed an innovative internship program allowing them to hone their business skills while completing coursework that will prepare them to continue their studies at New Mexico State University.

The students participated in the Running Lean internship program at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center. The program introduced students to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization during an eight-week interactive curriculum. The students also participated in English and GRE test preparation courses.

Each student recently earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from Instituto Tecnológico Nacional de México, which has campuses in a number of cities throughout Mexico. The students have all applied for admission into masters programs at NMSU.

Facilitator Estela Hartley, an Arrowhead Center Enterprise Adviser and Kauffman Fellow who specializes in design thinking, was a key team member who worked closely with the students throughout the program.

“Engineering students in the Running Lean Internship program learned a variety of innovation techniques being used by leading organizations around the world,” Hartley said. “The entrepreneurial skills and tools gained to design a new product development strategy and innovative business models will provide these engineers with great leverage throughout their careers.”

Students in the Running Lean Internship learned the process of moving a new product to the market. Students practiced talking to customers, business modeling and market research with a technology assigned to them by the program’s facilitators. Students also worked with experts in lean business launch, design thinking and intellectual property commercialization, and practiced their presentation skills through weekly “pitch sessions” where they discussed progress on their projects.

“The main topic we studied in this business course was the Lean Start-Up. It is a very useful tool when you have a product you want to sell, and when you have an idea about a business,” said student Orlando Robles Terrazas. “It changes everything because your potential customers give you feedback about your product, and then you know if your assumptions are true and you continue with your project or change something about it.”

While developing students’ entrepreneurial skills was a primary objective of the internship program, a larger goal was to help students in gaining acceptance to NMSU graduate programs. Students accepted to NMSU graduate programs are expected to begin their studies in spring and fall 2016, with many receiving financial assistance through CONACYT, or the National Council of Science and Technology, in Mexico. So far, one student has been fully admitted to NMSU to pursue a master’s degree in industrial engineering with a specialization in Public Utility Regulation and Economics.

The program is also intended to boost NMSU’s efforts in growing the binational entrepreneurial environment and facilitating binational relationships between educational institutions and industries on both sides of the border. Since this year’s program was so successful, it will be offered again in summer 2016. Nearly 300 students are expected to participate next year.

NMSU Arrowhead Center Welcomes New Economic Development Coordinator

Date: 10/19/2015

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

New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center recently welcomed a new staff member who will help boost economic development and community engagement efforts.

Michael Patrick is the center’s new Extension Specialist and Economic Development Coordinator. Patrick has served as the director of NMSU’s Doctorate of Economic Development program for the past fours years, and as a Community Resource and Economic Development Specialist for NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service since 2007. He has also served as a Western Rural Development Fellow since 2012, working to strengthen rural communities, and help them thrive economically and become self-sustaining. His interests are in Native American economic development activities as well as community, economic and business development throughout the region.

“NMSU is adopting a holistic model for economic development and community engagement, in which parties from across campus are working together, merging their assets and networks to benefit New Mexicans,” said Kevin Boberg, NMSU’s Vice President for Economic Development. Boberg also noted the increasing importance of collaborative work in this area.

Patrick received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from California State Polytechnic University, a master’s degree in community development from Southern Illinois University, a master’s degree in economics from Michigan State University, and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Michigan State University.

Patrick plans to leverage his contacts in Extension, particularly with county Extension agents, to expand access to Arrowhead Center resources. Connections with these agents, who work directly with people and communities in every county statewide, will provide Arrowhead Center with firsthand information on needs for resources and assistance.

“County agents engage daily with farmers, ranchers, business leaders, families, youth, local officials and community leaders through a broad range of educational activities to improve the quality of life in their communities,” Patrick said. “County agents understand the needs of their communities and are in a unique position to bring the resources of Arrowhead Center and NMSU’s colleges, departments and student organizations to bear on the economic development opportunities and challenges of their communities.”

Kathy Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center, said the center has looked forward to partnering with Extension for some time.

“We’ve enjoyed a solid working relationship with (Extension) for many years, but having Dr. Patrick on the Arrowhead team will allow us to move several important initiatives forward,” Hansen said.

Arrowhead Center is involved in a number of programs aimed at extending the organization’s business development and innovation resources throughout the state. For example, Arrowhead is a U.S. Economic Development Administration-designated University Center for Regional Commercialization, working with entrepreneurs and small businesses across New Mexico to create and expand businesses and capitalize on innovative ideas.

Patrick’s connections in the state’s tribal communities will fuel another Arrowhead Center emphasis: bringing entrepreneurial and business development resources to New Mexico’s American Indian population. Patrick is involved in a number of initiatives with Native American communities, including the Navajo Nation, Zuni Pueblo, and Southern and Northern Pueblos. Patrick’s interests include local food production and food sustainability, development of a Navajo farmer and rancher congress, entrepreneurial education for high school seniors and training for regional economic development planning.

“While we’re currently working with clients in 12 of the state’s 33 counties through the University Center, we’re hoping to expand our reach significantly in the coming year,” Hansen said. “We’re confident that Dr. Patrick’s connections will help us assist more clients in more places.”

Arrowhead Center is presently executing grant awards that include increased involvement in American Indian communities in youth entrepreneurship education, procuring funding for innovation-based small businesses, and creating and expanding technology-based entrepreneurial ventures.

NMSU Crop Researcher Becomes an Onion Whisperer

Date: 10/21/2015

Writer: Vicki L. Nisbett, 575-642-1334,

A new cultivar of onion from New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station is now ready for seed industry commercialization with the assistance of Arrowhead Center.

NuMex Whisper is an open-pollinated, highly single-centered, late-maturing, intermediate-day, yellow-scaled onion cultivar and is sown in the fall in southern New Mexico and similar environments. The onion was released in 2013.

NMSU’s Christopher Cramer, a professor of horticulture in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the Jose Fernandez Memorial Chair in Crop Production, has worked on this project since 1978, after crossing numerous short-day and intermediate-day varieties in different ways. He’s worked toward developing an onion bulb that is firm, has dry, high-quality outer scale characteristics, and has a center-growing point. NuMex Whisper’s scale characteristics, such as bulb firmness and scale color, adherence, thickness and number, were important in the quality evaluations.

“It’s important that a jumbo onion bulb have a single growing point,” Cramer said, “especially for using them for onion rings. It’s also important that the scales don’t adhere too tightly.”

Seed of NuMex Whisper is sown in the fall and harvested in late June or early July. Usually, New Mexico onions are harvested from May through August.

According to David Thompson, the associate dean and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, New Mexico is the leading producer of fresh-market, non-storage onions in the United States.

“In fact,” he said, “during the summer months, New Mexico producers supply more than 60 percent of all fresh onions consumed nationwide.”

Even though NuMex Whisper was developed for New Mexico, it should grow well in other regions of the country where intermediate-day onions are grown.

Rob Gobleck of Lockhart Seeds has worked with Cramer for about 15 years on additional cultivar projects.

“He is always letting me know about new releases and about whatever he is working on,” Gobleck said. “I arrange for him to put trials out on different farms.”

Funding for the development of NuMex Whisper was provided by the New Mexico Dry Onion Commission and the NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station.

“There are about 15 to 20 universities in the U.S. that have public vegetable breeding programs,” Cramer said. “Only one other university does onion breeding.”

For more information on “NuMex Whisper,” contact Cramer at or 575-646-2657.

Arrowhead Center’s Intellectual Property and Tech Transfer Office is assisting Cramer with the commercialization of NuMex Whisper. For more information on Arrowhead Center,

Local Startups Participate In Aggie Shark Tank At NMSU


Shark tank features billionaires looking to find the next big thing, and at the Aggie Shark Tank 5 Las Cruces Sharks are looking to help local Startups grow in the community.

And the local sharks didn’t hold back, grilling each of the young entrepreneurs for around 20 minutes on why their product deserved an investment.

Las Cruces Shark Lou Sisbarro, head of the Sisbarro Dealerships, says this is a fun way to help grow local businesses.

“We need businesses in Las Cruces,” Sisbarro said. “We need young people in Las Cruces, and if we can keep some of these products into Las Cruces what’s going to happen, we’re going to create a better environment. And these guys deserve it. They work hard on a lot of these products and I want to see them be successful.”

Sisbarro invested $30,000 for a 25% stake in the company BrainSTEM created by Rajaa Shindi a recent Ph.D. graduate from NMSU’s Computer Science Program who developed a brain-training system to help assess and treat attention.

“So we just need to exercise the brain,” Shindi said. “And train the brain to pay attention and how long you pay attention. So the uniqueness of the product is that it’s an interactive system, so you interact in a three-dimensional setting. So, that’s why kids are very engaged in the system.”

Lou Sisbarro says the product is necessary to try to help kids and their parents affected by attention disorders.

“You know I’m not looking to make the money on it, but it’s a humanitarian product. I think it’s something that’s really needed. If it works 10% of what she says it’s very worthwhile for a person with ADD and I had a son who had it. So I know what parents go through, so I think it’s a great health product.”

Rajaa Shindi also walked away with two cash prizes totaling $3,500 for both the shark favorite and the crowd favorite. She says she still can’t believe it.

“Because I’m so passionate about this solution,” Shindi said. “It’s a dream come true. Because someone is believing in my work, and someone is believing in what I’m proposing. And I’m excited because it’s going to help. This is really going to help millions and billions of children out there.”

Even companies that didn’t get the funding still took a lot out of the experience. One of those entrepreneurs was Chris Dunn one of the partners in the social media company Flooid Lingo, an app that provides a dictionary for social media sites.

“One thing we know is our application has a specific demographic,” Dunn said. “We are targeting those people between the ages of 16-29 that’s really our users. So, our users at that age probably aren’t going to be investors. They haven’t made their big money yet, so we have to kind of figure out how do we appeal, and how do we make sure that we are easy to understand for the investors who maybe aren’t our particular target audience.”

Sisbarro says even when the Sharks don’t invest their money they still continue to work with the young entrepreneurs.

“We keep in touch with them,” Sibarro said. “And we try to mentor. I think that’s the biggest thing is mentoring, and I think in the future we are going to have a couple of these where we are just going to be mentoring and not buying into.”

$45,000 dollars in investments was given to two companies in the Aggie Shark Tank.



When: NOVEMBER 4, 2015

Where: ABQid, Inc. 317 Commercial NE Albuquerque, NM 87102

Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


When: November 11

Where: Hub of Human Innovation, 00 W. Overland Ste. 230 El Paso, TX 79901

Time: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM


When : November 19, 2015

Where: Santa Fe Business Incubator, 3900 Paseo Del Sol, Santa Fe, NM 87057

Time: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

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