Tyler's Mentoring Minds Will Represent Texas In National Competition

April 29, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Tyler, TX April 29, 2011 - Tyler entrepreneurs Michael and Lisa Lujan have been named the Small Business Administration Texas Small Business Persons of the Year for 2011. This is the first time this honor has been awarded to an East Texas business, according to the Fort Worth SBA Regional office. The Lujans will represent the entire state of Texas at the national competition in Washington, D.C., during National Small Business Week, May 18-20 which honors the estimated 27.2 million small businesses in America.

According to the SBA website, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create 60-80 percent of new jobs in the country. Announcement of the coveted "Small Business Persons of the Year" tops off the week-long celebration and the Lujans will proudly represent small, but growing, businesses in the state of Texas. The Lujans website www.mentoringminds.com is becoming one of the industry's fastest growing educational websites providing educational resources for topics like classroom management, critical thinking, instructional strategies and more.

Michael Lujan, a former school administrator, and Lisa Lujan, a former banker, founded Mentoring Minds in 2002 after developing an innovative teaching resource, designed as a flip chart, that would help elementary teachers and students in Texas better meet new state educational standards. They launched the company from their garage, maxing out their credit cards to print the first 6,000 copies. Less than 10 years later, Mentoring Minds (www.mentoringminds.com) is a full educational publisher, producing innovative learning products with more than $11 million in 2010 sales. One of the nation's fastest-growing Hispanic-owned businesses, it also ranks #344 in Hispanic Business Magazine's 2010 list of the largest U.S. Hispanic-owned firms.

To the Lujans, the key inspiration continues to be "the kiddos", as Michael Lujan fondly refers to the students who reached him from his earliest days as an educator. "It's what inspires our growth - we want to reach educators and kids across the country and our plans for the future will move us out of the "small" business category very quickly."

Through the rapid growth, the company continues to be based in Tyler, Texas, and to pursue its original mission: To develop and offer affordable, effective teaching tools that help children develop and increase Critical Thinking giving them the skills to succeed not just in the classroom, but in life. The company's learning tools are now used in schools across the United States, reaching students in grades K-12 who will be challenged with Common Core Standards and STAAR testing. Through its flagship product, Motivation Math, and other quality learning and teaching aids, Mentoring Minds directly impacts thousands of students each year. Their business's rapid growth, however, is a true East Texas success story: The Lujans received critical support early on from a variety of East Texas groups, including the Small Business Development Center at TJC, TEDC, and the Tyler chapter of SCORE. Although every small business needs vision, determination, and stamina to succeed, the Lujans fully recognize that early connections also enabled their success giving students a spirit of success in the classroom. The Lujans sought guidance through the Tyler Economic Development Center and were assisted with a small business loan and also introduced to the Small Business Development Center at Tyler Junior College and were ultimately awarded a Small Business Administration loan. Michael and Lisa also took advantage of some early guidance from SCORE, America's premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs. The volunteers from the Tyler SCORE chapter were also honored this year as its region's chapter of the year. "We did not realize this dream alone," remarked Michael Lujan. "Thanks must go to our many partners and very dedicated staff for helping us pursue our passion for providing the best teacher resources and quality educational materials to more than 1 million students in Texas alone. Several Tyler area organizations enabled us to take the leap over 8 years ago. Our partnerships with TEDC, the Small Business Development Center at TJC, and the SBA, provided us with a foundation to establish a business and now impact students nationwide."

The Lujans now inspire others to seek their dreams. Michael serves on the board of the TEDC to ensure Tyler continues to be a community that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit. As well, he serves as the Vice Chairman of the Hispanic Business Alliance with the objective of promoting the growth and competitiveness of new and existing Hispanic businesses. "Of course we continue to support the thriving business environment in Smith County," Michael says. "However, for us, being a small business owner means much more. We know that a thriving business climate is just part of the picture. Our commitment extends to ensuring kids and families in this community thrive as well as assisting the students assessment test scores." The Lujans began giving back to the community very early on, even before realizing substantial growth in the company. Today, they continue to make a huge financial and volunteer commitment to the community by supporting many causes that they believe in. According to Michael and Lisa Lujan, "it's not just our duty to help our communities, it's our mission."

ABOUT THE SBA and NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK: Business Person of the Year winners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam will converge on Washington, D.C. during the U.S. Small Business Administration's National Small Business Week, May 18-20. Events and educational forums will mark the 58th anniversary of the agency and the 48th annual proclamation of National Small Business Week. More information at http://www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com/