Longhorn 100 awards bring connection and community to Longhorn-run businesses

Grace Xu, General News Reporter

The inaugural 2023 Longhorn 100 awards celebrated the 100 fastest growing Longhorn-run businesses in the world, connecting generations of Longhorn business leaders and current students. 

The event, held by Texas Exes on May 18, “creates an opportunity to expand networks with business leaders, inspire fellow longhorns and raise awareness of the incredible entrepreneurship that starts on the Forty Acres,” according to their website. Chuck Harris, the CEO and executive director of Texas Exes, said the Longhorn 100 awards really began about two years ago, with the conception of the Longhorn Business Network.

“I’ve lived in Washington D.C., and LA and different places, and I’m always running my businesses,” Harris said. “I’ve never had a Longhorn that wouldn’t take my call or take a meeting. So, it just occurred to me that we have a lot of Longhorn founders, entrepreneurs out there and we don’t really have a scalable way to connect them all together.” 

Award winner Kristy Owen, founder of 365 Things Austin, said she felt it was important to find those connections with people and other businesses early in their careers to ensure success. 

“A lot of our community has a way of helping each other out and connecting really well,” Owen said. “Having the Longhorn 100 is almost like having a golden network of people that want to see you succeed.”

Harris said that such networks are “invaluable” for prospective entrepreneurs. He said connecting with people who can help others avoid their mistakes is the greatest gift in business.

“It’s cool seeing some of these businesses from UT,” event attendee Christian McWilliams said. “I’ve met a few people in my major and it’s nice to see how some people have progressed and have made a big impact on the world around them.”   

As a student presenter, McWilliams, an environmental science and Plan II junior, was among what many of the attendees considered to be the stars of the show. 

“Just being around students is just wonderful,” said Edward Charrier, co-founder, CEO and President of Fractilia. “It’s energizing. You get to see everyone’s (excitement) about what they’re doing and the possibilities of the future.” 

For the future of Longhorn 100, Harris said he hopes to see it collaborate more with student entrepreneurship centers and raise awareness on the vast number of CEOs, founders and creators graduating from the University.

“In a year or two, we’ll have stories that say these two companies found each other at the Longhorn Business Network or the Longhorn 100,” Harris said. “(UT) is the place to come to if you want to be an entrepreneur, founder or work with a team of people who want to do that.”