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Val McNeil and her teammate present to a room of judges and guests.
Val McNeill (right) and her team received $250 for the honorable mention award at the 2022 Raymond Ideas Challenge. | Image: Courtesy of Val McNeil

In November 2022, the Texas A&M University McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the 2022 Raymond Ideas Challenge, where sophomore industrial engineer Val McNeill and her team presented their idea of portable liquid mixer packets to allow consumers convenient ways to make cocktails on the go. Their product Dry County received $250 for the honorable mention award.

“I developed this product alongside my co-founders, who are from Guatemala and were inspired by drinks from back home,” said McNeill. “We worked together to develop the most accessible and portable cocktail on the market.” 

McNeill learned about the Raymond Ideas Challenge through Engineering Entrepreneurship, a program within the College of Engineering where they connected with mentors who helped them centralize their ideas and develop Dry County. 

“The engineering incubator has been critical to our success,” she said. “This is a group of highly motivated and talented students who provide excellent insight and perspective.”

McNeill said she specifically wanted to thank Jim Donnell, director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, who regularly met with her and her team about their ideas and gave his advice on marketing strategies.

“Another professor I’d like to shout out is Chris Curran, who runs the engineering incubator,” said McNeill. “His passion for entrepreneurship shines, and he is eager to support every student who joins the program.”

Dry County packets are currently distributed in limited quantities for periodic special releases of flavors. However, the team plans to explore manufacturing and distribution options on a larger scale. 

“If you are interested in business and passionate about anything at all, Engineering Entrepreneurship is for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out or show up,” McNeill said.