2019 Alumni January 2019

Three alums recognized as top young innovators by Forbes

The artist and KREWE founder using fashion as his medium. The National Football League social maven harnessing big data for big engagement. The New York Jets tackle with a passion for startups and STEM education. What do they have in common? They’re SMU alums named to the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, the magazine’s chronicle of “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada.”


Stirling Barrett ’11

Starting when he was a teenager, New Orleans native Barrett found a market for his photographic collages. For five years after college, he supported himself by selling his artwork and flirted with opening a New Orleans gallery. Instead he took his savings and self-financed the launch of KREWE, an eyewear brand that includes sunglasses, prescription glasses and soon, sports eyewear. KREWE’s frames are plant-based Italian acetate with lightweight lenses. The company has two stores in New Orleans, a small Soho boutique that opened in 2018 and two traveling tiny house stores. It replaces any frame that breaks, in perpetuity. KREWE’s celebrity following includes Gigi Hadid, Serena Williams, Beyoncé, Kendall Jenner.

Barrett received a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Meadows School of the Arts.

Kelvin Beachum, Jr. ’10, ’12

When Beachum isn’t protecting quarterbacks, he’s padding his portfolio. With stakes in over 20 companies, he focuses on the manufacturing, agricultural and autonomous robotics industries. He also serves on the advisory board of OneTeam Collective, an accelerator connecting companies to athletes and their IP.

Beachum received the 2018  Emerging Leader Award from SMU and has been nominated for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and a Master of Liberal Studies degree from the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Sana Merchant ’11

Merchant advises the NFL’s 32 clubs’ executive teams on their social media strategy. She also oversees all social reporting that is distributed from the NFL to the clubs and helps teams analyze the data. She leads relationships with all major social platforms with which the NFL has deals, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. She launched the Social Managers Workshop, an annual meeting for teams’ social staff.

Merchant received a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications and public affairs from Meadows School of the Arts.

Read more at Forbes.

2017 Alumni December 2017

Meet the ‘$1-billion queen bee of dating apps’

That’s SMU alumna Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11 on the cover of the Forbes 30 Under 30 issue. Herd founded Bumble, “America’s fastest-growing dating-app company,” just three years after receiving a bachelor’s degree in international studies from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. This is her second consecutive appearance on the business magazine’s list of top “youthful visionaries” in 20 industries. In the profile that accompanies her December 12, 2017, cover, the 28-year-old entrepreneur talks about her mission to empower women via social networks devoted to dating, friendship, and business and networking. “We let our users guide our innovation. We let our users guide our brand.”

By Clare O’Connor

When Whitney Wolfe Herd started planning an October launch party for a new product at Bumble, America’s fastest-growing dating-app company, she was deliberate in her choice of venue: the Manhattan space that for 57 years hosted the Four Seasons restaurant, where regulars like Henry Kissinger, Vernon Jordan, Edgar Bronfman and Stephen Schwarzman created the ultimate power lunch.

The space now has a new name, new management and a new menu. And, as Herd insists, a new perspective on business. “The power lunch is no longer just for men,” Herd announces to the mostly young, mostly female crowd, before ceding the stage to the pop star Fergie. “We all deserve a seat at the table.”

That table surely now includes the 28-year-old Herd, who has changed the tenor of dating dynamics. By letting women make the first move, Bumble has amassed over 22 million registered users, to closest competitor Tinder’s 46 million, and at more than 70% year-over-year growth, to Tinder’s roughly 10%, it’s closing the gap quickly.

Read more at Forbes.