Student entrepreneurs pitch business ideas with the hope of creating a startup company

Emily O'Toole

Students with interests in innovation, marketing and entrepreneurship had the opportunity to share their startup ideas with fellow students at UT Startup+Connect’s event Thursday.

UT Startup+Connect events consist of students pitching their ideas for a company with the hope of gaining student attention and possible customers. After the short pitching session, there’s an opportunity for student networking.

Luis Martins, director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal in the McCombs School of Business, said the program caters to students, no matter their level of preparation or company status.

“I’m very heartened to see the passion of undergraduate students,” Martins said. “Let’s not forget that Facebook and Microsoft were started by undergraduate students.”

Emanuel Ibarra, program coordinator at the Herb Kelleher Center, said the goal of the program is to encourage collaboration between students of different majors and years.

“It’s kind of our way to bridge the different disciplines together and then also bring exposure to the students,” Ibarra said. 

Ibarra said some startups pitched at an event last spring have become lucrative, including a tech company called “Desk,” an iPad mathematics app. 

The pitches presented Thursday included Snagaprint, a personalized online printing service; FemtoMedical, a minimally invasive spinal treatment technology; Evo, an app to streamline campus event notifications; and Wiredove, a gift registry service.

Martins said UT is a great place for hopeful business-people in terms of resources and diversity of ideas.

“It’s a huge university with excellent departments in various areas, so we’re partnering with the College of Natural Sciences to do certain things, (and) we partner with (Cockrell School of) Engineering on certain things,” Martin said. “So when we see these pitches, they do tend to reflect the broad diversity of strengths we have (here).”

Numerous faculty members have gotten involved with the push to involve more undergraduates in company creation and networking, said Ryan McKeeman, assistant director at Blackstone Launchpad. An interdisciplinary entrepreneurship program, Blackstone Launchpad helps mentor students who are interested in entrepreneurship.

“I’ll meet with anybody for thirty minutes to talk about anything they want,” McKeeman said.

Martins believes there are certain aspects of a pitch that make for success: a clear idea with the potential to grow, a good business model and passion.

“What the audience finds most engaging is when the entrepreneur who’s pitching the idea shows clear passion for the idea,” Martins said. “I think that draws in people’s interest.”