Entrepreneurs dole out advice at genesis

Raga Justin

While moving from Seattle to Austin, the small van Matt Chasen had ordered was unavailable, leaving him with a 20-foot truck and a lot of empty space.

That excess capacity gave him the idea for uShip, an online startup that connects available truck storage with users’ large shipments, Chasen said during a Monday night panel about the pitfalls and triumphs of building a business.

“The entire drive, I was talking about my idea, an eBay for shipping,” UT business alumnus Chasen said. “My wife said it was the single stupidest idea she’d ever heard in her entire life.”

Today, the company has 3.5 million shipping customers, according to its website.

Chasen and three other successful Austin-based entrepreneurs made up the panel hosted by UT’s Genesis Program, which funds student start-up businesses.

Brilliant ideas are only a small component of any successful business, uShip co-founder Jay Manickam said.

“Most entrepreneurs will tell you it’s about execution,” Manickam said. “I see good ideas all the time, the vast majority of which don’t get anywhere. Even an okay idea with a great team does better than the inverse of that.”

There are certain characteristics of a successful team, said Ashley Jennings, co-founder of start-up developer DivInc.

“We look for coachability, the hustle factor or the ‘grind factor,’ as we like to call it, if you’re a team player or not,” Jennings said.

John Arrow, co-founder of Mutual Mobile, cautioned against rushing into forming a team, comparing it to a long-term romantic relationship. Experimenting with team tasks earlier in the partnership “prevents heartache,” Arrow said.

“A lot of times you meet somebody amazing, and you say you want to create a business with them,” Arrow said. “But before you pick a co-founder, it’s crucial to know where you’re going. The cement should have hardened enough to know you’re bringing the right person along.”
Genesis event planner Manjula Andukuri said she’s seen countless students with good ideas but no plan to implement them — a major push for events like these. 

“Developing the idea into an actual business is something I think a lot of people struggle with or are too scared to do,” said Andukuri, chemical engineering sophomore. “Having people come in who actually went through that showing that you can take small ideas and turn them into awesome businesses is one of the best things we can do.”