Monthly Archives: January 2014

Student entrepreneurs to showcase ventures at UTEWeek

One of the most exciting parts of UT Entrepreneurship Week is the opportunity for students to grow their venture by showcasing their work to the greater community. Student startup teams will demo expo style and pitch their startups to investors, other entrepreneurs, and fellow students at the Student Startup Expo on Tuesday, March 4th from 6 to 8pm, venue TBD. Startups will engage in friendly competition with a panel of judges deciding best startup and crowd vote determining most creative presentation. Thanks to UT Austin’s Technology Entrepreneurship Society for sponsoring this event for the 3rd year in a row.

Startups interested in presenting should fill out this brief application. We are open to startups managed by current students or recent alumni. Participating in the expo as a startup is completely free and will create the opportunity to connect with great mentors, meet investors, and meet potential co-founders and employees. The expo is also a great opportunity for students wanting to get involved in a startup but don’t have an idea of their own. Since this is one of our most interactive events, we are open to pushing the limits of what’s expected. Let us know if you, your student startup, or your organization want to try something unique.

While the expo is a great way to build relationships with other founderati, UT Entrepreneurship Week hosts an array of events where you can share ideas, learn from experts, and grow your venture! Be sure to check out our keynotes by Rod Canion, Founder of Compaq, on March 5th and Michael Dell, Founder of Dell Inc., on March 6th. LEA will continue to announce new events leading up to UTEWeek2014. Your entrepreneurial journey awaits!

RSVP for the expo here.

UTEWeek Keynote Speakers: Michael Dell and Rod Canion

Founder of Dell Inc., Michael Dell, and Founder of Compaq, Rod Canion, to be UTEWeek Keynotes.

The Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency and greater UT-Austin startup community are hosting the 3rd Annual UT Entrepreneurship Week (“UTEWeek”) February 28th – March 6th, 2014. We host UTEWeek every year to celebrate and grow the entrepreneurial 40 Acres. Attending the 15+ UTEWeek events will give UT and Austin community members, especially students, the opportunity to share ideas with the community, learn from experts, and grow their ventures… maybe even start helping someone else grow theirs. Whatever it is, your entrepreneurial journey truly does await you.

We couldn’t be happier to announce two legendary Texan entrepreneurs as our keynote speakers. Rod Canion and Michael Dell will speak on March 5th and 6th, respectively. The keynotes will be conducted in interview fashion and McCombs 2013-14 Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Brett Hurt, will facilitate the talk. Compaq and Dell dominated the PC industry for decades. Both enterprises started in the 1980’s while Canion and Dell were inexperienced entrepreneurs. Compaq rose to become the largest PC supplier in the world during the 1990’s before Dell surpassed them as the top supplier in 2001. Compaq was acquired by HP for $25 billion in 2002.

Rod Canion Profile PicRod Canion and his co-founders were all senior managers at Texas Instruments in Houston, TX when they formed Compaq in 1982. Compaq showed the world that Houston could strike it big in something besides oil, and completely revolutionized the PC industry. Rod spent a decade as President and CEO of Compaq before stepping down in 1991. Since then he has endeavored further into the world of startups as an entrepreneur and investor, and has recently published his new book, Open: How Compaq Ended IBM’s PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing.

Michael Dell Profile PicMichael Dell needs no introduction around the 40 Acres. He started PC’s Limited, now Dell Inc., in his Dobie dorm room in 1984 and went on to become one of the greatest Longhorn entrepreneurs of all time. Today, Dell is a leading provider of technology solutions and services with more than 100,000 employees in 80 countries around the globe. Michael took a bold step last year to buy back Dell from public shareholders. As a private enterprise, Dell is reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit and customer focus that propelled its success. Michael, his family and his company continue to have tremendous impact on Central Texas and UT. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has committed $124 million to projects at UT-Austin including funding for the Gates-Dell Computer Science Complex and Dell Medical School.

These two insightful perspectives on the PC industry will be sure to provide great insights. The final fifteen minutes of our keynotes will be reserved for Q&A from the audience so come with questions. You may also tweet @UTEWeek any questions and we will relay them to Brett Hurt. Thanks to the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship for sponsoring this event. We look forward to seeing you at UT Entrepreneurship Week 2014!

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Startup Lessons of 2013

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Alexis Ohanian at UT-Austin, October 2013

Like many students at this university, a lot of us in the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency are starting new companies. It makes sense – we’re a group of entrepreneurs making this university a more accommodating environment for student startups. And while as entrepreneurs we haven’t been nearly as successful as many of the professors, alumni, and mentors we’ve had exposure to, that’s no deterrent at all; in fact, it’s incredibly encouraging.

Entrepreneurship events are going on all the time here, and they hold immense value. We could be listening to world-famous entrepreneurs speak, or simply talking to other students about our business ideas. No matter what event may be going on, we get inspired all over again every single time to keep pushing in our quests to build worthwhile companies. And we know there are thousands of others on campus just like us. So while it’s impossible to replicate those inspiring conversations we’ve had with fellow students – you’ll have to create those for yourself – we want to share these bits of (paraphrased) wisdom from entrepreneurs that students like us have found to be the most insightful so far this school year:

Consider your major

John Arrow, former UT-Austin student and founder of MutualMobile, shared this idea with the LEA’s Freshman Founders: if you really want to start a company while you’re in college, think carefully about your major and the time you’ll spend studying daily. Filling your requirements by taking 18-hour semesters for 4 years may get you a stellar job when you graduate. But if you’d rather start a company of your own, be cognizant of the time it will require on a day-to-day basis. Being a student entrepreneur is hard; don’t overload yourself.

Take the challenging professors – not the easy ones

Even if you take the advice above, it’s important to take advantage of the knowledgeable people you’ll encounter in college. When Oliver Shuttlesworth, former UT-Austin student and founder of social enterprise Esperos, was giving advice to college students this past semester, he recalled his time in classes just a few years ago. He said in classes that GPA-focused students didn’t like to take – ones with the “more difficult” professors – he learned much more than he ever did in classes where professors were known to be easy graders. And he’s a better person and entrepreneur for it, so keep that in mind next time you’re scoping out MyEdu.

Learn to code

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of reddit, closed with this point when he visited the UT-Austin campus on October 30th: becoming computer-literate is one of the most valuable things a student can do, and you can do it for free. It truly is a language, and it offers up an endless number of opportunities for those who understand it. He drove home this idea when he said, “Any one of us with an idea, an internet connection, and a laptop can change the world.”

Right now is the best time to be a software person

Jeff Lawson, co-founder and CEO of Twilio, shared this thought when presenting in the Longhorn Startup seminar. He emphasized to the crowd that software developers have greater potential than they’ve ever had before, and with their ability and the constant emergence of new technologies, the possibilities for creating new businesses are endless. But he also said just understanding the basics of software and how it can be utilized, without being the engineer yourself, is absolutely worthwhile. And in his book that still counts as being a “software person”.

“Hack college”

Cam Houser, former UT-Austin MBA student and founder of 3DayStartup, had a similar point. He stressed that college students should be aware of all that their university can offer, and how they can best utilize that to start, or grow, their companies. He used the example of a student starting a basic web business: if you want to learn web development, take some computer science courses. If you want to make a quality logo, take a class in graphic design. Look around you and extract all you can in this environment, because it’s very likely you won’t be in college the rest of your life.

Entering the corporate world when you graduate is okay

This one gets attributed to a lot of people, and it sounds odd coming from the college startup community, but it’s an important point to make. Yes, a lot of entrepreneurs want to start companies in college and work for themselves their entire lives. But everyone has unique goals and encounters different circumstances at different stages. Experience in the workforce can benefit future ventures in the form of industry knowledge, specific skills, or even just a hatred of working for others. Plus, it’s been pointed out that many successful entrepreneurs don’t start companies until they’re well past their undergraduate days. Stay innovative and entrepreneurially-minded.

…But beware.

Jason Seats sold the company he co-founded to Rackspace and is currently the Managing Director at the TechStars Austin accelerator. But he started his career in a corporation. When speaking to UT students, he described the corporate world as a treadmill. When you work for big companies, he stressed, you will always be chasing a new achievement, a new challenge, a new title, or a better salary. And often, you won’t be fulfilled. Before he quit he even bought a book that was supposed to teach him how to love his job. Then he realized the corporate life wasn’t for him. He warned that it’s difficult to get off this so-called treadmill and start a company, even with the best intentions. Consider yourselves warned!

It’s all about effort

Does Mark Cuban need an introduction? When being interviewed at the Longhorn Startup Demo Day on December 4th, he kept saying that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to put in all the effort you can; there’s no way around it. There aren’t any shortcuts, and it’s often an uncomfortable lifestyle. You may even put forth all the effort in the world and still fail. But if you don’t give your startup all the effort you can, you’re not going to see it succeed. This is especially important in today’s world, with the startup lifestyle being glamorized more and more via movies and media. Always remember: there’s no easy path to the top. Let’s trust the billionaire on this one.

Get involved!

If you’re a student at the University of Texas at Austin, and if you’ve ever wanted to start a business, we encourage you to put yourself out there and see just how much this startup community can offer you. There are so many different organizations, students, and mentors with different specializations that can benefit your ambitions immensely, whether you’re a freshman in Engineering or a senior in English. At the LEA, we’re bridging as many gaps as we possibly can and putting on a few events while we’re at it. If you want to get more involved, check out our website, Our Portal tab connects you to different startup programs within the UT-Austin community. Our Connect tab allows you to keep up with us on whatever platform you prefer. Our Classes tab showcases entrepreneurship-related classes at our university. And that’s only the beginning, because as the former students above can attest: what starts here changes the world. Hook ‘em!



  • September 2012: The LEA was created by legislation passed by the Student Government at UT-Austin. The bill was advocated for by student body president Thor Lund and vice president Wills Brown with at-large support from student entrepreneur Nick Spiller. The campaign began the previous semester when Nick approached Thor and Wills during their campaign about the need to incorporate student entrepreneurship into mainstream Longhorn culture.
  • November 2012: Nick Spiller was appointed Founding Director and worked with Student Government executives, representatives and staff to recruit 21 students to serve the Longhorn Startup Community.
  • March 2013: The week before SXSW, the LEA hosted its first signature event, UT Entrepreneurship Week. The event brought unprecedented light to student entrepreneurship on-campus by attracting over 500 attendees to multiple events throughout the week.
  • May 2013: The LEA expanded to 40 members, and with that gained the ability to host more events and provide more resources to students interested in entrepreneurship.
  • August 2013: The Freshman Founders Program officially launched, giving incoming freshmen the opportunity to gain exposure to the Austin startup scene during their first semester at UT.