Baylor to Offer Fasttrac Programs for Entrepreneurs

Nov. 22, 1995

by Alan Hunt

WACO, Texas - After two years in Eastern Europe teaching Lithuanians how to prepare and develop business plans, Wacoan John Cook III has returned to his alma mater, Baylor University, to take charge of a new "how-to" business program for Central Texas entrepreneurs.

Cook, 37, will be "administrator and facilitator," as he terms it, of the Premier FastTrac entrepreneurial training program which is to be offered this spring by Baylor's John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship at the Hankamer School of Business.

The FastTrac program will be available in two versions. FastTrac I is a nine week course with classroom sessions from 6-9:30 p.m. every Tuesday from Feb. 27 to April 23. FastTrac II will offer classes for 11 weeks from 6-9:30 p.m. every Thursday from Feb. 15 to April 25.

Cook says the people who would qualify for the FastTrac I program are potential entrepreneurs who have not yet developed a business plan. "These people typically have an idea still in the conceptual stage who want to determine what it would take to make that idea feasible. Entrepreneurs identify business opportunities, research the market, expand business concepts, get solid information on how to launch new ventures and develop feasibility plans. A completed feasibility plan is required by the end of the course."

The second course, FastTrac II, works with existing business owners on planning, researching and evaluating the strategic growth and operational aspects of the business. Through hands-on experience, study and dealing directly with challenges from operating their own companies, entrepreneurs learn about legal issues, marketing, finance, personnel, cash flow and business planning. The 45-hour program culminates in the development of a viable business plan by each entrepreneur after 11 weeks, Cook said.

"Between 40-55 percent of graduates of the FastTrac II program have more than doubled their sales within two years after graduation and more than 90 percent of graduates are still in business five years after graduation," Cook says. "The statistics for the FastTrac I

program are equally impressive. Apparently, between 50-75 percent of graduates started a new business within one year after graduation and an additional 20 percent of graduates start up a

business within two years after graduation."

FastTrac program costs range from $400 for FastTrac I to $900 for FastTrac II. This covers all materials, including textbooks, course materials, instruction, planning guides, consulting support and registration fee.

Cook, who received a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship and a master's degree in international management, both from Baylor, is hoping to recruit "coalition members" and corporate sponsors for the FastTrac program. He says coalition members would include area chambers of commerce and service organizations in the Waco and Central Texas area who could assist in identifying people who would qualify for the FastTrac program. "These organizations would be ideally positioned to know who would benefit from a program designed to assist entrepreneurs in getting their new ventures off to the right start or to quickly develop the skills needed to grow their businesses," Cook says.

Cook says the FastTrac curriculums can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any community. "For example, some communities in other parts of the country have targeted the program to minority business owners or transitional workers."

The program was started in 1986 by Premier Entrepreneur Programs Inc. and offered in Los Angeles, with co-sponsorship by the city of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California's entrepreneur program and the Adolph Coors Foundation.

Because of the great success of the program and its materials, the newly founded Entrepreneurial Education Foundation of Denver, Colo., is disseminating the program nationally and today it is offered in more than 30 states and has an alumni group of more than 10,000 entrepreneurs.

All sessions will be held at the Hankamer School of Business and will include appearances by entrepreneur guests speakers who will supplement the classroom instruction by Cook and other members of the Hankamer faculty.

In addition to the couple of years he spent as a technical business consultant in Lithuania, Cook worked for 10 years as an operations manager for Success Motivation Inc. and also served as advertising director for the Texas Motorplex. He also was the project director for an environmental treatment company, managed a consulting firm headquartered in Texas, and for a time he founded and operated an import-export trading company.

"I look forward to helping Central Texas entrepreneurs through our program," he says. "The purpose of FastTrac is to discover, foster and mold the visions of today's entrepreneurs into profitable ventures, and in turn, to help develop a vigorous economy in the community."

For more information about the FastTrac program, contact John Cook III at the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship, (817) 755-2265.

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