Students submit business pitches at startup meeting

Rund Khayyat

UT students presented 90 second business pitches to their peers and business mentors for feedback as part of Thursday’s Longhorn Startup Open Pitch Night. 

This weekly program is designed to allow any UT student to launch, pitch or fine-tune a business idea. It is part of the Longhorn Startup Seminar, but it is open to the public.

“Our vision for it is for any student to feel like they can come pitch their ideas and get feedback,” said Joshua Baer, the seminar instructor and founder of the Capital Factory, a local startup incubator and co-working space.

Baer said this is important because pitching is vital for business startups to secure investments.

You pitch all day long–that’s what you’ve got to do to get a business going.” Baer said. “The key to a good pitch is to focus on a problem, tell a story and practice.”

Biology senior Patrick Foadey and government senior Bryan Landes pitched the idea of a marketplace full of tutors, contractors and book exchanges to make student life more productive. They said the program is invaluable to their business development process because of the feedback opportunities.

“We came in with one mindset, and now we can go back, brainstorm and incorporate the suggestions in order to make a better product,” Landes said. “This programs makes us see our idea from a different light. Hearing from people who have been successful in this process is incredibly fascinating.”

The feedback ranges depending on how developed the business idea is, Baer said.

“We ask questions to help students think deeply about their ideas,” Baer said. “If they’re further along we drill down on the core issues in developing their business.”

Pharmacy sophomore Nick Ihek proposed a business to help connect local pharmacies to the communities they serve. He said he was lost when he first began to brainstorm, but the program helped him find guidance from peers that think like him.

“This program is awesome because you really need people on your team that are entrepreneurs with the same mindset, and that’s what pitching here gets you,” Ihek said.

This event is valuable to students because it provides them with access to mentors, Baer said, something that is not always easily available.

“I started my first company in school. I didn’t have resources, or people to look up to,” Baer said. “I hope this makes more companies, students successful faster, and makes the world a better place.”