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Real Advice from Real Massive

With UT E-Week kicking off today, Nick Spiller had the amazing opportunity to interview one of this year’s biggest sponsors, Joshua McClure, CEO and co-founder of Real Massive. Real Massive is a company that allows people to search for commercial real estate in a variety of different markets. McClure offered some great information about his company and advice on entrepreneurship in general. Check out the interview below!

Joshua McClure and Nick Spiller discussing Real Massive.

Joshua McClure and Nick Spiller discussing Real Massive.

 Nick Spiller: What is Real Massive?

Joshua McClure: Real Massive, #1 is really big. We have I think 4.1 billion square feet coverage in about 28 different markets across the country and we’re spreading out really quickly. We’ll be in about 40 markets soon. We’re on our way to the end of the year to be around 5 billion square feet. There’s nobody else in the country that has data coverage on the Internet. We truly are becoming, if not already become the Zillow of office space. We’re attracting a lot of national attention and even global attention from global brokerages and asset managers.

NS: So you’re a free resource for people looking for commercial properties?

JM: Yes, we’re a free resource for people looking to lease office space or industrial, retail, etc. or even looking availability information on a commercial building to purchase.

 NS: You offer a lot of data for free, why do you do that?

JM: So really our goal as a company is to build trust and we build trust one step at a time and the first step in that mantra is “give first.” It’s really every entrepreneur’s mantra to do the same thing because you have to offer value to someone in order for them to trust you enough to pay you. And so whether that’s with a beta test or asking somebody to give you advice on a product that you’re building; they’re giving you that. So asking them for that, you really have to be willing to give them something as well. And what that means is that you have to believe in your product and what you’re doing and understand that building value, creating value for these people, is what they want and that’s what everybody wants—additional value in their life.

NS: You decided the celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit during UT Entrepreneurship Week. Why did you do that?
JM: I really feel like giving back to the entrepreneurial community is really important. I really believe UT stands for, especially in the entrepreneurial sense, if you look at the entire university as a whole it says “what starts here.” And what starts here is startup and is entrepreneurial endeavor in the global ideation. In the very beginning “what starts here changes the world” is not just what changes Austin or what changes Texas or the United states, it’s the world. I taught a class at UT for a while and when I first saw that up in stone, I thought, “wow this place is amazing.” I went to the Air Force Academy so I didn’t get the change to really plug into that entrepreneurial program that people have the chance here to do and we want to sponsor it in every way we can.

NS: What are some daily rituals or habits that help keep you at peak performance?

JM: I almost started a molecular nutrition company for raising your IQ and raising your energy level and making you better at what you do. Instead, I started Real Massive. Real Massive really is about creating value and so my advice would be go back to creating value. What is a problem you can solve that will create value on a daily basis for the most amount of people. There’s actually a philosophy around it called utilitarianism, John Stewart Mill actually wrote about it. It really has come back with the open data movement and the open source movement, both of those are really philosophically related to the ancient philosophies of John Stewart Mill.

NS: You have a background in military intelligence, so how are you applying that experience to Real Massive and making that transition to CEO?

JM: Well the background that I have is really kind of in the business management and project management side of intelligence, with systems thinking of how commercial real estate works which is a 12 trillion dollar asset class. And nobody really knows about what’s happening with that asset class right now. There’s no central repository for that data. So I think what this repository of data needs is expert curation. We need data scientists; we need extremely dedicated and creative entrepreneurs who look at this as a problem that needs to be solved. And there are so many aspects of it that need to be solved from the permitting process all the way to the building valuation process.

NS: So you’re the CIA for commercial properties?

JM: I wouldn’t compare us to the CIA in any regard whatsoever; let’s make it more like the New York Stock Exchange for commercial properties. It’s really more of a marketplace where we collect data and publish it, and because we publish it people know it’s trusted information and that becomes the fundamental underlying data foundation for everything else in the industry.

NS: Let’s think back to when you were in college. If you wanted to start a business, what would you tell yourself knowing what you know today?

JM: Start. Like Nike, “just do it.” There are so many reasons not to do it. It’s a very risky thing to put yourself on the line and put yourself in front of people and say “hey, here’s my idea.” Well be prepared for 9 out of your 10 ideas to be crap. And so one of those ideas is going to be the idea that really resonates with people, it’s fairly easy to implement and yet it provides a lot of value to people. That’s that no-brainer idea where people go, “Why didn’t I think of that? That was pretty easy.” Well no one really knows about the 9 ideas up to that point where you fell flat on your face, so it’s about just doing it and testing it with people and seeing if the idea resonates.

NS: How did Real Massive get its name?

JM: Real Massive got its name when we realized how much this industry needed us, so the value we can create is absolutely, insanely big. People spend almost all of their waking lives at work in the work place and this is the data of the workplace, where humanity spends its time. And the implication for both energy and transportation as well as how people work, for instance how they get to work and what they do while they’re there really is just giant, it’s real massive. I think that we can really change the world with this business.

NS: What’s the size of the SR class you mentioned earlier?

JM: Just institutional, non-parking lot, not even looking at land, is 12 trillion dollars. If you get other pieces of commercial real estate and pile it all in, it’s about 17 trillion. So the only thing that compares is actually the value of the business that are in that space. The United States’ equities are worth about 18 trillion the last time I checked, so the space where they go to work is worth about 17 trillion right? So it’s absolutely amazing that no one has organized this valuable of a data set.


UTEWeek 2015- Student Start-up Expo Companies

UTEWeek 2015 is here! Get excited cause one of our spotlight events is the the Student Start-up Expo. Many revolutionary companies like Dell, Apple, and Facebook were started by students or recent drop-outs. Join our community as we showcase the best student startups on-campus in an interactive, expo style format. Start-up teams will assemble booths, where they will be ready to pitch and demo products while general attendees intermingle freely. 

Here are our UTEWeek 2015 Student Start-ups. Drum roll please…


Texas Custom Apparel provides several ways for your group or organization to place their order with a blazing   fast turnaround time. Our low prices, online payment system, and next generation backend processes provide      a modern solution to this age-old problem.

Prepify makes SAT prep free, online, and adaptive to students needs. We track improvement, identify top users, and offer introductions to interested universities so that they can explore the recruiting process with the    student.


An estimated 40% of clothes bought online are returned. Outfitr is using shapeshifting mannequin technology, precise photography, and machine learning to solve online shopping’s greatest problem: fit. A cross-platform solution with a social media-layer to help users find clothes that they’ll love and know will fit.

Era Watches: birthed with the intention of being a company with good morals and exceptional products. Era came about from a dynamic duo of siblings who had a passion for watches, style and a strong desire to revolutionize the standard of business. Era is dedicated to making great looking watches that don’t break the bank.

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A mobile app that streamlines the process of eating with your friends. It includes a simple restaurant selection and voting mechanism, giving everyone an equal voice in the group. Our app also features a screen to for the attendees to see each other’s locations as they approach the restaurant thereby eliminating the need for the “hey man are you there yet? texts/calls”


Retell Logo

Retell makes real estate development easy and efficient by streamline the real estate development workflow and creating a paper trail to increase accountability.



hAaGeTj8 ConcertCam is an end to terrible sounding concert videos. ConcertCam automatically enhances concert videos with crystal-clear audio professionally recorded at the same concert.



Flexter is a fitness app that allows users to find and try workouts from credible trainers from all over the world. We have video and text descriptions of all workout variations including: At-home, yoga, HIIT cardio, and weighted lifts. We are in the business of simplifying the workout experience no matter where you are.

HylioLogo (1)Hylio helps provide intuitive solutions to people through robotic development. Introducing Pegasus: an autonomous, app integrated, delivery drone. Payloads under 5 lbs within a radius of 5 miles Pegasus is the first network of peer to peer delivery. This allows consumers to connect with each other and will have hundreds of applications from search and rescue, first aid, supplying, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.40.03 PMThe ForeverCard is a physical business card connected to a digital profile that is constantly changing, because we are constantly changing. Update your professional information, contact info, and add or delete social media channels without having to order new business cards. Think of this as your last business card. It will last forever.

Logo for FundsnakcFUND$NACK is an easy way for organizations in Austin/UT to raise funds by encouraging their members and supporters to order our weekly snack packages, filled with healthy and fun snacks.


There is still time to apply! Want your student startup to participate in the expo? Apply here! (must be a UT Austin registered student)

Find out more at! Powered by: RealMassive

UTEWeek events are open to the public so anyone is encouraged to attend this event.


Longhorn Startup Demo Day

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Longhorn Startup Demo Day is one of unique events specifically aimed at UT students.  Created by Josh Baer, founder of Capital Factory, along with faculty Bob Metcalfe, Professor of Innovation and Ben Dyer, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Cockrell School of Engineering, Longhorn Startup is more than just a class. Students are offered hands-on learning as well as the advice of these incredible mentors to help them grow their startup. On November 20th, twelve student startups were provided with the opportunity to each make six minute long pitches to potential investors. The event also featured guest speaker Brian Sharples, HomeAway founder and CEO who provided some helpful insight on entrepreneurship.  Here are is list of the startups that pitched and what exactly their companies do so you know what the next big things are going to be, not just in the Austin community, but beyond.

Pitch 1: TasteBud

TasteBud is a mobile app that is partnered with 30 Austin local and small chain restaurants, that allows users to be able to get 30-50% savings. It’s main goal is to allow students to be able to eat at odd hours for cheaper and to allow restaurants to be able to fill their tables at non-peak times. It offers in-store promotions that are valid for every item on a restaurant’s menu, differentiating it from apps that just provide specific item discounts. It’s currently available at Google Play and the App Store.

Pitch 2: Game Plan

This app was created because of the difficulty its founders had in finding what tailgates to attend when first arriving at UT. This inconvenience in locating and connecting with friends and attending events gave birth to Game Plan. The app has a map that shows where tailgates are, and what parties you are hosting or going to via a playbook. It allows users to engage with each other using invites and different privacy settings depending on the type of event. You can download it now at the App store, with an Android version coming soon.

Pitch 3: Study Huddle

Study Huddle’s goal is to provide students with a better way to study. It will allow users to integrate their class schedule and assignments into the app and track how long they are studying for. You will be able to see who else is working on what assignments as well as difficulty ratings for classes and assignments.  The backbone for this app is its ability to foster group studying via a “huddle” feature that users can use to form specific study groups. It will be available on the Android store and for iOS soon.

Pitch 4: GreekLink

Co-founded by LEA’s own Ari Gootnick, GreekLink is an app that allows the Greek community to communicate all in one place. It includes an interactive calendar, messaging and a contact list. Members of different Greek organizations can create, share and promote their events amongst each other. It’s available to download on the App store.

greek link

Pitch 5: LYTE labs

Instead of using the traditional method of pricking themselves to measure glucose levels, LYTE labs is creating a glucose monitoring ring accessory for diabetics. The device connects to a smart phone and will alert the user if his glucose levels change too much. The software treats customers as individuals, using unique algorithms. Users can custom design a ring and receive a specialized reading tailored them. This device will be the most affordable glucose monitor on the market.

Pitch 6: Everywhere energy

Everywhere energy harnesses the kinetic energy that people create via walking to provide a way to be your own battery. Eversole is the shoe insert the company has designed that allows individuals to harvest this energy. Their product is aimed at Third World countries like India, where a majority of people walk as their main type of transportation, yet have limited access to electricity. College students and American outdoor enthusiasts are other target markets for them as well. The company strives to make it convenient and simple to charge your devices while on the go.

Pitch 7: Choreo

Choreo is a mobile app aimed at dancers that provides them with a way to manage their dance careers. It is an online dance community where dancers can find each other, create profiles and share videos. The app allows for simple promotion, and for a $10 a month subscription fee; dancers can make classes, productions and commercials that make it easy for them to promote their talents.

Pitch 8: HapBack

If you have ever had difficulty planning a large-scale event with sponsors, look no further than HapBack. This company serves as an event sponsorship marketplace where individuals just need to create a profile on their website to begin getting sponsors. One of the main goals of the company is to sell sponsorships in bulk to media campaigns. This allows anyone to make an event while sponsors can also contribute and thereby advertise themselves.

Pitch 9: OnePay

OnePay allows a user to compile all their bills into one place to be paid on time. Users register on the OnePayApp website where their monthly bills are compiled into a single bill, making payments easy and convenient. The service costs $9.99 a month to use. It eliminates the fear of late bills by alerting you and allows you to maintain a good credit score.

Pitch 10: Texas Custom Apparel

Texas Custom Apparel, with LEA’s Sunny Das as CEO, digitizes and designs apparel for different organizations. With branches at UT, A&M and Texas State, the company offers a way for organizations to order attire with a shorter turnaround and cheaper prices than their competitors.  Brands like Comfort Colors and Gildan are offered, allowing organizations to have a plethora of choices when choosing designs that best represent them.

Pitch 11: Gray Matter Technologies

With the same name as the fictional company from Breaking Bad, Gray Matter Technologies is making a name for themselves in the real world by creating a product aimed at diagnosing concussions. Their G force mouth guard is aimed at changing the way people deal with concussions by sending the data of how hard a person was hit to a mobile phone. This data then tells the player whether they need to be removed from a game or not. The product is not specifically aimed at professional or high-level athletes, but anyone who plays a contact sport.

gray matter

Pitch 12: Noki

The idea for Noki (a play on “no keys”) came to one of the founders after reading a sci-fi novel. The company is currently in its prototype stage but is working on producing devices that allow users to type in the air without having to physically touch a keyboard. These devices use a word prediction system that conforms to the way that you type.

These companies are doing great things so far due to the invaluable advice provided by Longhorn Startup. Be on the lookout to hear more from them in the near future!


UTLEA Gallery

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First Freshman Founders Panel

A few of the Freshman Founders and mentors.

The first UT Freshman Founders Panel of the year was comprised of a diverse group of panelists that represented the Austin entrepreneurship community. Panelists included John Arrow, founder and chairman of Mutual Mobile, Dr. Michael Patten, CEO of the Texas Medical Device Accelerator and Laura Kilcrease, McCombs Entrepreneur-in-Residence.  Various other mentors were also present to have their brains picked at by the freshman founders for their entrepreneurial endeavors. UT’s own, Nick Spiller, fielded the Q & A portion of the night. The advice gained from the panelists was inciteful and helpful, so we thought it’d be a great idea to share it with you! Here are the main points…

Nick Spiller: Time for our Freshman Founders to do a little self-reflection. What are some good/bad traits of first-time entrepreneurs?

John Arrow: One of the best attributes I see of entrepreneurs is the desire to try something. One of the worst traits is the almost dogmatic approach of trying to raise capital…often times that takes over the mind of the entrepreneur.

Laura Kilcrease: The great thing about entrepreneurs is that they have a vision and are optimistic; minus side is that they are optimistic without optimization. A really great entrepreneur knows their strengths and knows where to go to get help.

Michael Patton: One of the great things is understanding why you want to do it. To make money, provide a service?…Key to seek out…the best mentors who have gone through area of interest you have gone through…listen to both good and bad experiences as you’re working w/ mentors or with companies….be as professional and respectful as you can. Sometimes you see entrepreneurs who might have too much of an ego.


NS: Tonight may be the first time a lot of our Freshman Founders have had interactions with such amazing mentors. What is some good advice for student entrepreneurs meeting with potential mentors for the first time?

MP: The realities of the mentor’s time, being prepared, being on time, following up…on things you were supposed to do.

LK: Come prepared. How much is an hour of time worth?…loss to you about what you can learn…come prepared w/ what you want to discuss. Respect the time with that person…we all have the same [24 hours] time. Understand that if your mentor/mentee relationship works out well for you, mentor can give you something more valuable than any money can give you (experience)…be serious about the time and have fun w/ the person who is going to be your mentor….at any point in life, you can’t have more than 5 serious mentors at any stage….meet with them regularly.

JA: Be upfront about your intentions…be skeptical of your mentor…advice for your specific venture might not be applicable…make sure that the mentor that you choose has already achieved your objective…already better at you at something.


NS: After making the initial connection, how should student entrepreneurs go about developing a productive relationship with the potential mentor?

LK: Determination of what you think is productive…understand that the path [to success] isn’t linear…to get value in that relationship…the best relationships have turned into long term friendships as well.

JA: Help them feel involved in your company. If you tried something and it worked…or failed, let them know…update them on the status of your business.

MP: Be genuine, go out of your way to show initiative…bring some value back…don’t push too hard [on company], listen to competitive analysis before you jump out there with  both feet.


NS: Lets pretend the entrepreneur has now developed a great relationship with a mentor. They’ve been through some wins and some losses. The entrepreneur wants to make the mentor an investor in their new startup. How should that entrepreneur approach the mentor about backing their new startup?

JA: It should be like an evolution…mentor and entrepreneur should arrive at that place at the same time…if mentor is brought into your business, they’ll want to add value… the worst type of arrangement is using mentor meetings to get capital.

LK: There has to be a very strong friend relationship…think about 3 Fs (family, friend, fool)…anyone putting money in you is expecting a return…be aware that relationship might change a little bit.

MP: If you choose the right mentor, they can do a good job of…fundraising for you…the more you’re out there networking, get some press, it’s more natural to not appear so hungry.

TedMed Viewing Party

“Unlocking Imagination in Service of Health and Medicine”



Texas Medical Accelerator invites UTLEA members and the UT Austin community to TEDMEDLive sessions on Wednesday, September 10th and Friday, September 12th. TEDMED is an annual conference in which various speakers comment on their forays into innovative research bound to change the healthcare and medical fields. Come watch this year’s highly anticipated TEDMED speakers, who accomplished thought leaders from every interesting corner of medicine and beyond. You will be able to interact with a group of physicians and researchers discussing how technology, unconventional problem solving, and entrepreneurship can contribute to a healthier future.

The first sessions will take place on Wednesday, September 10th in Auditorium 1.402 at the UT SAC (2201 Speedway, Austin, TX 78712).


Session 1: “Turn It Upside Down” 12:30-2:30pm

Live Simulcast and Discussion

Session 2: “We Just Don’t Know” 2:30pm-4:30pm

Live Simulcast and Discussion


Join us for additional sessions hosted by Dell Medical School and various student groups on Friday, September 12th.

These sessions will be held in the ACES Building, Room 2.404a (201 E. 24th St, Austin, TX 78712).


Session 3: “Flat Out Amazing” 10:00am-12:15pm

Live Simulcast and Discussion

Session 4: “Steal Smart” 12:15-2:30pm

Live Simulcast and Discussion

Session 5: “Don’t You Dare Talk About This” 2:30pm-4:00pm

Live Simulcast and Discussion




Registration for all sessions is available at: and


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!

Learn more at

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!

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.