Nick Spiller talks UT Entrepreneurship

Nick Spiller is an entrepreneurship entrepreneur. The 2013 UT alumnus helped establish the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency of Student Government to increase entrepreneurship across the 40 Acres during his time at the university.

Now a full-time University employee as Liberal Arts Student Venture Coordinator, Spiller works to help undergraduate and graduate Longhorns start their own companies by connecting them with other helpful university resources.

In addition, the Friar Society member also advises undergraduates on how to manage their college career in parallel to launching their own startup.

Spiller spoke to us about his new role and offers advice to those interested in entrepreneurship.

Longhorn Life: What is your role as the Liberal Arts Student Venture Coordinator?

Nick Spiller: My job is to help the College of Liberal Arts step up to the plate and contribute to UT Austin's greater startup ecosystem. I'm doing that by managing Freshman Founders Launchpad, a startup accelerator exclusively for freshmen, and the Liberal Arts Student Ventures program, an initiative to engage liberal arts students in innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. 

LL: More and more students and faculty are getting involved in the startup scene. What resources can students and faculty use to jumpstart their ventures?

NS: In one way or another, most of the University can be leveraged to help launch your startup. You can get technical insights from professors, high-caliber mentorship through programs like Longhorn Startup Lab and take advantage of facilities like the FLASK in Welch to develop products and conduct meetings. 

LL: What do you see as the biggest hurdles for students to get their startups up and running? For faculty?

NS: When you start a company as a student, you still have to compete with the pros, so in that sense, student entrepreneurship is much harder than full-time entrepreneurship. Therefore, students that truly desire to start a company need to prioritize that activity even at the expense of GPA points and summer internships. For professors, the University needs to make it dramatically simpler for them to commercialize their research.

LL: What is UT doing differently than before to increase entrepreneurship among the 40 Acres?

NS: Entrepreneurship has always happened around the 40 Acres but, traditionally, it occurred passively under the radar of our institution. Now the University is encouraging, embracing and supporting entrepreneurship and that kind of engagement will only lead to a campus environment even more conducive to innovation.

LL: If you gave three pieces of advice to an aspiring young entrepreneur, what would you say?

NS: Advice for an aspiring, young entrepreneur: start today, be confident but know when you are wrong and build a diverse support network. 

LL: What do you love most about your job?

NS: My job is kind of like working in a time-machine. Every day I come to campus, hear countless new ideas about the future and it is my duty to help make those ideas a reality.