UT Entrepreneurship Week helps students build connections and receive networking resources


Gabriella Belzer

Students listen to a discussion between aspiring student entrepreneurs and organization leaders at the SAC, Monday. The discussion kicked of the first ever UT Entrepreneurship Week, developed to help assist aspiring business leaders.

Before students dive into their spring break week, student entrepreneurs will have the chance to dive into a week of events aimed at building connections and receiving professional and peer guidance for their future businesses.

The first UT Entrepreneurship Week kicked off Monday with a discussion between aspiring student entrepreneurs and campus entrepreneurship organization leaders that will be associated with UTE Week. uThinkTank, creator of UTE Week, is a networking site that allows student entrepreneurs to get feedback on their ideas, connect to mentors on campus and in Austin and build their general business plans, said marketing junior Jonathan Van, co-founder of uThinkTank.

Van said the idea of UTE Week is to merge the entrepreneuring nature of Austin with the University in order to provide city resources to students and expand the entrepreneurial culture on campus.

“We want students to go from their idea to where the rubber meets the road,” Van said. “Students that attend the events can start talking to other students and professors that might be able to help them and as well as possible stakeholders for their companies.”

Rhetoric and writing junior, Nick Spiller, co-founder of uThinkTank, said his ideas for UTE Week originated from listening to his current mentor, Robert Metcalfe, electrical and computer engineering professor and co-inventor of Ethernet, speak about connecting the Austin and UT entrepreneurial communities.

“This week is for students to push this snowball of a movement of entrepreneurship over the tipping point at the University,” Spiller said. “We think that if we can get enough people on board and make sure everyone meets the right people, we can basically change the metrics of how your college experiences at a large public research university can be judged.”

Management senior Neil Lloyd said he attended the kickoff event Monday to find out about the resources that are available for him. Lloyd said his business idea is in its rough stage but eventually wants to create a networking tool for the martial arts community.

“I’ve been an aspiring entrepreneur for a long time and I guess I’ve never been able to get my ideas into action because I was never able to find the right people,” Lloyd said. “I’m hoping to make some connections and bounce ideas off each other.”

Electrical engineering senior Aaron Sanchez, vice-president of the Technology Entrepreneurship Society, said the organization’s monthly meeting is a part of UTE Week in order to offer student entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn about applying to local startup-assistance groups.

“We want students to share their ideas and thoughts and expose them to information that can compliment those thoughts,” Sanchez said.

Economics and finance senior, Kanish Mehta, president and founder of the University Entrepreneur’s Association, said the organization wants to connect student entrepreneurs from all disciplines together in order to share their ideas and form teams for new start-up companies.

The association will present the “Austinpreneur Panel” event on Tuesday at the SAC Blackbox Theatre that will feature a panel of speakers from Austin who will discuss the relationship between entrepreneurship and the community, Van said.

uThinkTank and Austin Technology Incubator will present the second annual Student Entrepreneurship Symposium on Wednesday in the SAC Ballroom.

“The symposium is going to give students the chance to see people that are highly successful, such as Robert Metcalfe, and allow them to make connections with their peers and possible mentors,” Van said.  

Printed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 as: Budding entrepreneurs receive advice