Demo Day showcases undergraduate startups

Kevin Dural

UT undergraduate entrepreneurs will get the chance to pitch their startups to the public this Thursday.

Demo Day, hosted by the Longhorn Startup Lab, will last from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium. As part of the event, undergraduate club members will have five minutes to present their startups to an audience. Each student will also have table space for visitors and potential investors to try out their product or learn more about their idea.

Some of the startups have already received funding and are looking to expand. Urban studies senior Sherrill Feng’s startup Memory Plush produces plush travel companions that are soft, washable and adaptable. A polyester shell means these stuffed animals can be carried outside and washed in a washing machine.

“Waffles the Memory Foam Corgi, the first product of our company, is the perfect travel companion and cuddle buddy to bring with you on all of your adventures,” Feng said.

The company has also released for preoder Hazelnut the Tri Color Corgi, marketed as Waffles’ sister and based off a real-life corgi breed.

Management Information Systems junior Daniel Miyares’ company Desk will release a tablet application by the same name this month that serves as a homework sandbox. The app combines a textbook, paper, pen and calculator — all onto one screen. Importing and exporting to PDF from the app are also streamlined and simple, Miyares said.

“Our company aims to revolutionize STEM education,” he said. “Our tablet-based application empowers students to solve advanced homework with ease, all in one place.”

The Longhorn Startup Lab is a seminar course available for any UT student to take. Its website describes the course as project-heavy, and semester-long mentoring culminates in the Demo Day on Thursday. In past years, the event has attracted big names such as Marc Cuban.

Students accepted into the course are provided grant funding, personal and seasoned mentoring, and access to lots of entrepreneurial resources.

Ze-Wei Samuel Lin, Longhorn Startup Lab teaching assistant, said he isn’t the only one amazed by what these undergraduate students have come up with.

“When people see what students are doing, they are shocked,” he said.

Lin said this year’s Demo Day will feature 12 different startups.

“The presenting companies are from different industries,” he said. “They’re doing crazy innovative stuff in innovative ways. A lot of them also only started last semester. The key is that they’re passionate and they never give up.”

Miyares said that mentorship and friendship were the best aspects of working with Desk and the Longhorn Startup Lab.

“One of the reasons I love startups is the feeling of camaraderie we all get,” he said. “I’ve also loved my time with Longhorn Startup, especially the opportunity to work with high-powered mentors who are always willing to help.”