Entrepreneurial Spirit Thriving in Jindal School Initiatives, Programs
It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur at UT Dallas, said Madison Pedigo, director of the University’s innovation and entrepreneurship academic programs in the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
The UT Dallas Business Idea Competition, the University’s version of a “Shark Tank” contest, has grown annually, putting many budding entrepreneurs on the map. Award-winning innovation and entrepreneurship academic programs also have grown in the past two years.
The boom has inspired Pedigo and his colleagues to maintain ongoing connections to innovators with campus ties. Since 2014, the UT Dallas innovation entrepreneurial program has tracked University startups and entrepreneurs who have founded or co-founded businesses.
“We are now tracking over 200 companies that have been founded or co-founded by UT Dallas students or alumni, and the list is continuing to grow,” said Jeremy Vickers, executive director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which coordinates the competition.
Each year, the idea competition attracts a growing number of undergraduate and graduate students who pitch their products to local CEOs, entrepreneurs, corporate professionals and investors. In fall 2014, 65 teams, representing more than 200 students entered the contest, an increase of more than 50 percent from the prior year.
A kickoff event for this year’s competition, which offers $20,000 in cash prizes and scholarships, will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the Davidson Auditorium in the Jindal School.
In addition to the competition, Pedigo said the Jindal School is meeting demand by introducing pertinent courses in social entrepreneurship and Startup Launch. The school now offers a total of 20 graduate and 10 undergraduate courses.
“We believe that participation in the Startup Launch courses and the Startup Launch Track reduces the risks of failure and enhances the odds that our students will have successful ventures,” Pedigo said.
Business Idea Competition
What: Kickoff Event
When: 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11
Where: Davidson Auditorium, JSOM 1.118
Vickers said Startup Launch and other initiatives, such as LaunchPad, a peer-to-peer business accelerator, are making a positive impact on North Texas entrepreneurship and boosting the reputation of the Jindal School, the University and the region.
The Startup Launch Track, which takes select student entrepreneurs in the Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program and helps their startup concepts progress from idea to launch, has also helped spur the UT Dallas entrepreneurial wave, Pedigo said.
Since the track started in 2013, more than 50 students have taken Startup Launch courses, and 50 percent of the businesses have launched.
Some successful company launches include:
- iLumi, a Plano,Texas-based company that makes LED “smartbulbs” that allow users to control lighting levels and colors through a mobile app. Founders Corey Egan MBA’10 and Swapnil Bora MBA’11 made a $350,000 deal with entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank” in 2014 after finding earlier success at the UT Dallas Business Idea Competition. The company’s products can be found in major retailers such as Fry’s Electronics, Home Depot and Amazon.com.
- Rollout, a comprehensive, portable product for accessing blueprints. Founded by Matt Hinson MBA’13 MS’15 and Alejandro Jacobo MS ’13 MBA ’15, the company has raised more than $160,000 in angel funding and is in beta testing.
- EverThread, an early stage company providing custom-fabric design for the interior decorating, homebuilding service and craft marketplaces. Founded by Nicole Mossman MS’15, the company is in the RevTech Accelerator program and poised to redefine the retail fabric industry.
“We consider ourselves the top of the funnel for new business ideas, and through both our academic and startup programs, we serve the UT Dallas community with the education, resources and tools they need to successfully launch startups,” Vickers said.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].