Faculty members speak at Graduate Student Assembly event

Mackenzie Palmer

The Graduate Student Assembly invited two UT faculty members to talk about their experiences as entrepreneurs at an event Friday.

Sriram Vishwanath, electrical and computer engineering professor, and Louise Epstein, managing director of the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Innovation Center, shared their advice on being successful in entrepreneurial business. 

According to Vishwanath, it is important for those aspiring to start their own business to take an idea and run with it. Vishwanath said second guessing ideas is the number one reason for any entrepreneur’s downfall.

“Take your idea from your lab [and] from research projects to the market,” Vishwanath said.

According to Vishwanath, there are seven common ways one can ruin his own business, such as not having focus or communication and being stubborn.

“You are your company’s PR,” Vishwanath said. “You represent your company, so make sure you are always thinking of your company as the centerpiece.” 

Epstein, a former Austin City Council member, also spoke about how entrepreneurs represent their company.

“Things have to fit into a plan of sorts,” Epstein said. “I planned my life through serving in elected office … and by 1993, I had executed my entire professional plan.” 

Epstein said that, while trying to execute her plan, she didn’t have much knowledge on how to do so, but her drive and ambition overcame the gaps in her knowledge.

“You don’t have to be a genius about something to figure it out,” Epstein said. “I didn’t know about credit card debt, but I could figure out who would know.”

Both Epstein and Vishwanath discussed how important it is to build relationships and to seek out resources.

“Relationships are everything,” Epstein said, “You can be an engineering genius but that’s not going to help you make a penny — [you’ve] got to build relationships.”

Education graduate student Langston Clark said the seminar helped him understand a field in which he was not as knowledgeable. 

“To be able to get the perspective of people who are entrepreneurs and in business I think is good as I start to begin my career,” Clark said.