Entrepreneurship pitch competition DisrupTexas awards student competitors funds to help with startup

Hannah Williford

Undergraduate students tested their creativity and participated in an entrepreneurship pitch competition Saturday.

The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the competition, called DisrupTexas, in the AT&T Education and Executive Conference Center. Out of 16 teams of students from around Texas, four teams advanced to a final round where they pitched to the public and answered questions from a panel of judges about issues such as customer product appeal.

Finals judge Cristal Glangchai said the panel looked for pitches that addressed a problem and presented a real solution with a marketing strategy.

“I was completely impressed with the student teams, especially because they’re undergraduate teams,” said Glangchai, founding director of the Blackstone LaunchPad . “I know when I was an undergraduate student, I wasn’t thinking like this … compared to some of the graduate competitions I’ve watched and even some of the actual pitches I hear from entrepreneurs, this was great.” 

The student teams in the final round included Pocket Punch, an all-in-one self-defense device, Picko, a food delivery system with smart lockers, Plexus Technology, a communication system for music festivals and clothing rental service Swayy, which won the competition.

Swayy aims to provide students with affordable nice outfits by allowing them to borrow and return clothes for specific events, such as football games or sorority recruitment. Co-founder Rajya Atluri, who received $10,000, said the team plans to use the money to purchase on-campus lockers so students can pick up their clothes more easily and for pop-up events on campus.

“I think competing really forces you to distill your ideas into something that’s easily able to be communicated,” said Atluri, a business and Plan II honors senior. “It really forces you to think about the overall picture of your business and where you’re trying to go.”

Judges announced Pocket Punch as the winner of the People’s Choice award and second place overall, winning $5,000. Co-founder Danna Tao said because there is already a waitlist for their all-in-one self defense device, the money will help them produce their product. She said there are currently only prototypes of the device.

“Since we’ve launched everything, we’ve gotten a lot of interest,” finance senior Tao said. “A lot of people want to buy, but we don’t have a product yet and as much money as we can get, that would be really helpful in getting us there faster.”

Editor’s Note: Rajya Atluri previously worked at the Texan as a general news reporter.