CEO lectures students on honey farm case study

Serial investor and guest lecturer Ben Chatraw of North Avenue Capital visited with entrepreneurship students on Thursday to discuss a case study about Weeks Honey Farm. Chatraw gave the students insight into what investing in a business is really like. Mireya Sol Ruiz | Multimedia Journalist

By Michael Knight | Reporter

As a conclusion to a case study on Weeks Honey Farm that entrepreneurship students have been working on in classes, the Hankamer School of Business brought in Ben Chatraw Thursday to speak to classes about experiences in investing.

Ben Chatraw is the founder and chief executive of North Avenue Capital and is “responsible for driving the overall vision and strategy of the firm.”

North Avenue Capital is a business that helps other companies grow through financial help and offers consultation to them as they try to maximize profit. Through his experience in entrepreneurship, Chatraw went over the students’ case study with the Baylor entrepreneurship class and helped them work through it logically. Figuring out whether or not to invest in a company is a large part of his current job with North Avenue Capital, and he worked the class through a similar process.

Tyler Self, part-time lecturer and associate director of Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship, was a former business partner of Chatraw. He also spoke to the students about their case study and the solutions that they found.

“There’s one professor of mine from years ago who said, ‘That’s the difference between computers and humans — computers can’t imagine a solution, but humans can.’ We can imagine a solution that can be put in a spreadsheet or a model,” Self said.

The time with Chatraw was a highly participatory class period for the students, many of whom had intricate spreadsheets and notes about the study to help them answer questions throughout the class. From questions about real-life examples and questions about the case study, the contributions from the class were constant.

Chatraw shifted the talk multiple times throughout the class, focusing on different perspectives throughout the case. The groups that students were broken into from the project shared their evaluations on the board about the estimated money that the company earned.

He also polled the class based on the research on Weeks Honey Farm that the students conducted and asked them whether or not they would invest in the company, with most of the students saying they would. Chatraw then delved into the positives and negatives for each side, and some students changed their opinion through this part of the discussion.

Chatraw finished up by asking the students if they would invest money into Weeks Honey Farm if they were North Avenue Capital. He said this was a real-life situation that the company had faced, and he gave some insight as to how the process went and how Weeks Honey Farm is currently doing.

“We did make the loan,” Chatraw said. “Ray [the owner] took it, grew his revenues and it led him to a huge unexpected problem, which is that Kroger and other grocery stores wanted to bring him into even more stores…we effectively became a strategic consultant for him to help protect our own investment.”

The event concluded with a few students asking questions to Chatraw about the process, as well as about North Avenue Capital.

The entrepreneurship program in the Hankamer School of Business was recently ranked fifth in the nation by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, who gave specific numbers as to why the program is a success at the university.

For more information about the business school and the entrepreneurship department, visit their website.