Monthly Archives: November 2013

Freshman Founders Spotlight: Austin Couillard

Austin with the co-founder of Testlio, Kristel Viidik. Testlio is a recent TechStars Austin accelerator graduate.

Austin with the co-founder of Testlio, Kristel Viidik. Testlio is a recent TechStars Austin accelerator graduate.


In his own words…

By clicking that link you know my name is Austin Couillard and I’m a Freshman Founder. As a new student at UT, majoring in Advertising and French, Freshman Founders has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in college. In fact, it is the only club that I kept up with because it has given me experiences that are more useful than any other club here at UT.

During this fall semester we networked with successful founders and startup mentors like John Arrow, Dr. Bob Metcalfe and Jason Seats from TechStars. We visited many amazing Austin startups and incubators where we discovered the emerging culture and community of Austin startups. Every Freshman Founders meeting gets me thinking of my own ideas and how I want them to growing. Doing so in college is no easy feat, especially when I have Netflix and homework.

My favorite seminar was the Austin Startup Crawl at Capital Factory. It was insane. There were so many amazing companies. Many I got to meet and follow up with later on, and many gave me great advice on design and troubleshooting the beginning of building a company. I met some awesome people from Estonia if that counts for anything. After they told me about their company, Testlio, I got to just chat with them for a bit. Then a couple walked up to hear about the company and they let me pitch their product to them, the couple ended up being from VitaminT which is in charge of seeking out talent for helping creatives get their startups off the ground…how lucky huh?  I would’ve never made that connection if it weren’t for Freshman Founders.

It’s been a great experience, and I feel ready to begin building my own company. Entrepreneurship, I feel, is something students here at UT don’t think about enough. UT’s student body needs to compete with students from Harvard, Stanford, and the like. Here’s to the future, with my fellow Freshman Founders.

Freshman Founder Spotlight: Vijay Manohar

In his own words… 

One thing that truly scares me is getting a degree, working the next forty years at a large corporation, climbing my way up the corporate ladder – slowly but steadily, – counting the days until I retire, and finally pulling the plug. In other words, doing a marathon on the career treadmill. In this path, everything is mapped out for me. While it offers stability and fewer ups and downs, it simply isn’t exciting.

ManoharMy dream career includes taking the road less traveled – coming up with innovative ideas and executing successfully. I’m sure you’ve heard of Elon Musk. At the age of 42, he’s founded Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors – all while pioneering a futuristic transportation system. I’m quite sure he would have been an excellent engineer at a large corporation, but the amount of pent-up potential he has would have never seen daylight.

One of the reasons why I chose to come to UT-Austin was for the tech scene. For the past decade, Austin has grown as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, earning the name “Silicon Hills.” Nevertheless, there’s a disconnect between UT-Austin and Austin itself. Nick Spiller and Jane Gergen helped solved this problem for my incoming class of student entrepreneurs through the Freshman Founders program – a community of 20 freshmen entrepreneurs that I’m proud to call myself a part of.

There is an incredible amount of entrepreneurial potential in UT’s students – Michael Dell is a testament – and a bridge needs to be built to connect students to the countless resources accessible in the city. As a first semester student at UT, Freshman Founders has offered me just that. With a simple email, I can meet up with Dr. Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, Jason Seats, Director of Techstars -Austin, or John Arrow, founder of Mutual Mobile. Moreso, Freshman Founders has cultivated a community of like-minded students who are determined to not jump on the career treadmill and instead take the path less travelled.