Sam Houston 79

  • 2023 Sam Houston 79 Award Luncheon
  • Celebrating our BearKat owned businesses
  • President White's Welcome Speech!
  • One of Sam Houston 79 Winners!

Sam Houston 79

Sam Houston 79 graphicThe Sam Houston 79 honors the founding year of the Sam Houston Normal Institute and pays homage to the beginning of our great university in 1879. This NEW SHSU Alumni Association annual event identifies and honors the 79 fastest growing SHSU Bearkat-owned and Bearkat-led businesses in the world. In addition, the Sam Houston 79 provides a forum to pass lessons to the next generation of Bearkat business entrepreneurs and leaders.

The nominated businesses that send in their information will be ranked, and the top 79 businesses based on percentage of compound annual growth in sales or revenues (net of returns), over a three-year period will be recognized and celebrated during the annual Sam Houston 79 event.

The 2nd Annual Sam Houston 79 event will be held October 25, 2024

Nomination Form

Important Dates

All companies nominated for the Sam Houston 79 2024 event will receive a personalized application link on the last Monday in June.

2024 Sam Houston 79 Nominations Close: Friday, May 31, 2024

2024 Sam Houston 79 Applications Close: Wednesday, July 31, 2024

2024 Sam Houston 79 Awards Luncheon: Friday, October 25, 2024


Company size and longevity

The Company must meet both of the following criteria:

Have been in business for 3 years or more as of December 31,2023

Have had verifiable revenues of $100,000 or more in calendar year 2021.

Bearkat Leadership

The Company must meet one or more of the three criteria below to be eligible. A Sam Houston State University former student (or group of former students):

  1. Must have founded the company and been active as a member of the most senior management team from January 1,2021 through December 31, 2023
  2. Must have owned 50% or more of the company from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2023
  3. Must have served as the Company’s chief executive (for example chairman, CEO, president or managing partner) from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023

Company Character

The Company must operate in a manner consistent with the Bearkat Code of Conduct and in keeping with the values and image of SHSU.

Reserves the right to:

  1. Independently verify that nominees meet all criteria
  2. Reject any nominee for any reason
  3. Modify Criteria/Requirements as needed without notification

The Sam Houston 79 Application Process

  • Step 1: All companies must be nominated. The nomination period runs year round. Nominations close on May 31 each year.
  • Step 2: Once the application period opens, all nominated companies will receive details on how to submit their company application. The Sam Houston 79 application is due on July 31 each year. The application form is fairly simple and only requires you to answer a few questions and attach documentation to verify revenues.
  • Step 3: All companies that complete the application process will be notified by email in early August so that they may make plans to attend the awards luncheon on October 25, 2024. The full list will not be released until the Awards Luncheon. All companies are asked to keep the information confidential until the celebration.
  • Step 4: Companies named to the Sam Houston 79 list will be required to submit company and Bearkat Honoree information to be included in all materials.
  • Step 5: Those companies named to the Sam Houston 79 list will have the opportunity to invite guests to the Awards Dinner each year. Deadlines for those ticket/table purchases are at the end of September each year.
  • Step 6: Sam Houston 79 Awards Dinner and Celebration Events will be hosted each fall in honor of the success of all Sam Houston 79 companies. The list will be made public at this time.


Nominations are now open for the 2024 Sam Houston 79. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged. Anyone can nominate a company.

If you know of an Bearkat-owned or Bearkat -led business that you think meets the criteria, don’t hesitate to submit a nomination for them! Nominees will receive an application packet and can choose whether or not they will apply. There is no harm in nominating them for the process.

Nomination Form

General Program Questions

  • What is the purpose of Sam Houston 79?

    The Sam Houston 79 identifies, recognizes, and celebrates the 79 fastest growing Bearkat-owned or Bearkat-led businesses in the world. The Sam Houston 79 not only celebrates their success, but it also provides a forum to pass lessons to the next generation of Bearkat entrepreneurs.

  • How do you recognize Sam Houston 79 Honorees?

    In addition to recognition in the Heritage magazine and various press releases and Social Media campaigns, each honoree will receive a trophy at the Annual event in their honor. The honorees will also be invited to campus to participate in several activities throughout the year.

  • What is involved in the application process?

    The application form is fairly simple. A few check boxes, answer a couple of questions related to the criteria, and attach documentation to verify revenues. That's it!

  • When will the Sam Houston 79 list be released?

    The Sam Houston 79 list will not be available until after the Sam Houston 79 Awards Ceremony.

  • I'd like to nominate someone but I'm not sure if they meet all the criteria. What should I do?

    If you know of a Bearkat-owned or Bearkat-led business that you think meets the criteria, don't hesitate to submit a nomination for them! Nominees will receive an application packet and can choose whether they will apply. There is no harm in nominating them for the process.

  • Who can nominate a company?

    Anyone can nominate a company; you don't necessarily have to be an Bearkat! You may nominate yourself if you'd like! Nominator's information is not made public.

  • Why do I see nomination and application dates? What does that process look like?

    Sam Houston 79 nominations are currently open. To apply to Sam Houston 79 a company must first be nominated. Applications are open through May 31 each year. Nominees will be notified and sent a unique application link during this period. Those who complete the application process will be notified whether or not they made the Sam Houston 79 in July.

Does my business qualify?

  • What does it mean to be Bearkat-owned or led by Bearkats?

    For the period of January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023, the company must have been owned OR led by an Bearkat or group of Bearkats. These dates apply to the 2024 Sam Houston 79 event.

    1. Bearkat founded and founder still involved at senior level if not President or CEO.
    2. Bearkat-owned means 50% or more owned a Bearkat or group of Bearkats.
    3. Bearkat-led means a Bearkat as CEO, President, Managing Partner, or Chairman.

    The company must meet one of these criteria. It does not have to meet all three.
    Bearkat employees who hold a position in the company other than those listed above cannot be named as a Sam Houston 79 Honoree.

  • What are the criteria to be on the Sam Houston 79 list?

    There are four criteria:

    1. The company must be Bearkat-owned or led by Bearkats for the program time frame(January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2023).
    2. The company’s revenues must have been $100,000 or more in the calendar year 2021.
    3. The company must have been in business for 3 years or more as of December 31,2023.
    4. The company must operate in a manner consistent with the Bearkat Code of Conduct.

    A company must meet all four criteria to be eligible.

What company information is required and how results are calculated?

  • How are the results calculated? How is the Sam Houston 79 list determined?

    For each applicant, we will calculate the percentage growth in revenues from 2021 to 2023. Nominated companies are asked to provide high-level information about their organization so that the compounded annual growth rate can be calculated.

    After the calculations, the companies will be listed by growth rate from the highest to the lowest. The top 79 fastest-growing companies will be named to the Sam Houston 79.

  • How is revenue defined?

    We are basing our growth calculations on net revenues for 2021 and 2023. Net revenue is meant to be net sales, or sales less returns. For a professional services business, it would be gross revenues less any write-downs or discounts.

  • The application form says “verifiable” revenue. How do you verify revenue?

    We need a way of verifying the company’s revenue levels. Some of the ways in which revenues can be verified include:

    1. Copy of audited, reviewed or compiled financial statements.
    2. Copy of page 1 of tax return (you can block out other financial data on page 1 if you wish).
    3. Letter from external accountant attesting to revenue level.

    If you have issues/concerns about any of these, feel free to contact us and we will work with you.

  • What information do you need?

    The application form will ask for:

    1. Contact information
    2. Company’s conformance to Sam Houston 79 qualifications (company age, minimum revenue, Bearkat ownership/leadership and adherence to SHSU Code of conduct).
    3. Revenue levels for the previous three years.

Use and publication of information/confidentiality

  • How can I be assured of confidentiality?

    The financial information you provide during the application process is sent directly to an independent accounting firm that tabulates the results. They will only report the results to the SHSU Alumni Association. The University will not see the revenue levels reported and they will not be made available to the press or any other groups. The accounting firm is Whitley Penn in Houston.

  • What information will be released?

    We will publish the list of the 79 companies honored. The list will include company name, city location, names of Bearkat principals, and year founded. Actual revenue figures will not be published or otherwise released. The list will not contain financial or other statistical information. You may be called for an interview.

  • Where will the information be published?

    The Sam Houston 79 list will be publicized in press releases, on the Alumni website, in Center newsletters and/or similar channels. Specific information about revenues will not be published. You may be interviewed by SHSU Alumni Relations for a feature piece. The article will only include the information you provide.

  • Will my company information be released to the Sam Houston State University or the SHSU Alumni Association?

    No. All such information will be retained by Whitley Penn Accounting and not released to the University or any University affiliate.

Sam Houston 79 Event Sponsorship