Looking for a restaurant with a touch of the French Quarter, Texas southern comfort, Tucson culinary flair and a zestful Wildcat spirit? A new entrepreneurial endeavor by a University of Arizona alumnus fits the bill.
The Parish, a new Tucson restaurant recently opened by UA Eller College of Management graduate Bryce Zeagler and his two business partners, draws its influence from Texas, Louisiana, Arizona – and the UA, where Zeagler and thousands of others have learned the basics of running a business.
The Eller College, together with the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, work to help students gain the expertise needed to establish and run successful businesses.
Alumni of the college and more specifically the center have launched approximately 500 new businesses, providing viable services to the community and strengthening the economy.
One of the first university-based centers for entrepreneurship, the center consistently maintains top-tier ranking status.
It's ranked No. 2 among public undergraduate programs and No. 1 among public graduate programs by Entrepreneur/Princeton Review; No. 6 globally by the Financial Times; and No. 4 among public undergraduate programs and No. 6 among public graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report. It was named a National Model Program by United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and a NASDAQ Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
The center is one of the few national programs open both to graduate and undergraduate students, and it accepts a variety of majors.
One of McGuire’s most prominent success stories involves the 2008 launch and recent sale of NoteHall, an online marketplace for college students who want to buy and sell class notes.
Sean Conway graduated with a BSBA in marketing and entrepreneurship in 2007, and together with his UA alumni partners recently sold the company to the electronic college book rental or purchasing site, Chegg, for a reported $3.7 million in equity.
Conway notes that professors at Eller have been helpful and supportive of the venture: "I attribute a lot of my success with Notehall to the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program and all faculty within the program."
Another successful Eller-influenced concept is aimed at revolutionizing the restaurant industry through proprietary software and state-of-the-art android tablets. JusTouch Digital looks to allow customers to browse a restaurant's entire menu, order a meal and pay the bill – all at the table.
Three UA alumni came up with the concept while enrolled at the McGuire Center. Josh Banayan, an Eller MIS and entrepreneurship 2011 graduate; Jarrod Carr, Eller management and entrepreneurship (2011); and Jason Bral, Eller finance, management and entrepreneurship (2011) aim to grow the business in Tucson before moving into larger markets.
Current UA students John-Mark Bantock, Sam Ellis, Taylor Hedberg and Lindsey Erlick have developed an electric bike venture. The business is based on electric bikes that will be designed by the future owner using the best components on the market.
Over the course of a year as part of their McGuire experience, the students developed a business plan, conducted more than 100 interviews with retailers across the nation, established a fully operational supply chain with various suppliers, manufacturers, assemblers, painters and retail partners, and tested it all out on a fully functioning prototype.
The team also created a marketing plan and implemented a full social media campaign that positioned electric bikes as a cool, trendy way to commute, and ultimately pitched their venture to potential investors.
The team members won first place in the year-end venture competition. More importantly, the team has started a business called Velocis Bikes.
The group attributes its success to the McGuire experience.
"Through the McGuire Center, you have access to funding for prototypes and market research, experienced proven entrepreneurs, an amazing website development team, a law team, and access to angel investors who will tell you exactly what your weak points are," said Ellis. "If you put in the time and effort, McGuire can help you turn an idea into an actual fully operational company."