Freshman Founders Join the Entrepreneurial Forty Acres

 

Fourteen freshman-run companies made their debut at the entrepreneurial Forty Acres Friday, Sept.26, as part of the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency’s Freshman Founder Launchpad program.

Keynoting the event was Joshua Baer (@joshuabaer), founder of the startup incubator Capital Factory, and one of Austin’s most prolific entrepreneurs, who spoke on “How to Start a Startup.”           

Each student introduced themselves as well as their businesses. Many of these startups are in the technology sector. Their founders were all admitted to the program after a selective application and interview process.          

“I founded Terrascript (terrascript.com), a software and mobile application development company this August. I came up with the idea with fellow classmates who were also passionate about programming and wanted to leverage their talent while doing what they loved at the same time,” Freshman Founder Bart Zhang said.         

The aims of the startups range widely, but each attempts to solve a commonly experienced issue in society. Founder Justin Fowler (@SomewhatJustin) created Point B, a mobile delivery service specifically for technology. Mitch Chaiet founded ConcertCam (launch.concertc.am), a platform for reliving the live concert experience and Sarad Pamidimukkala and Ahmed Khan presented Oculr (@oculr), a method to finding patterns across pieces of information on the internet by aggregating, indexing and tagging content into a Knowledge Graph.               

The Launchpad further introduced the Penny Drop Project (@PennyDropPjct) as a unique combination of fundraising and public relations tools that serves to boost the brand awareness and public image of its clients. Penny Drop Project supplies a much more economical alternative to traditional advertising offerings by generating significant media coverage and audience engagement organically.

          

Following Baer's presentation, the founders had the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one to voice their startup-related concerns and questions.        

Parth Kalaria, one of the founders, explained his startup to Baer. "I founded Radix (radixprep.com) this summer with the idea of bridging a variety of disciplines: standardized test prep, debate coaching and college consulting. Using a unique concierge consulting model that allows the students to pick with whom they work, Radix strives to revolutionize tutoring," said Kalaria.         

Professor of Innovation Bob Metcalfe (@BobMetcalfe) joined Baer for the post-presentation office hours. Metcalfe spoke with the Freshman Founders about his experiences as an entrepreneur and provided valuable startup advice.

"I was blown away by the quality of entrepreneurial thinkers attracted to the event. Launchpad connects young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs with experienced business-creators,” Katherine Allen, co-founder of Catalyst Arts Movement said.    

Katherine created the non-profit Catalyst Arts Movement (CatalystArtsMovement.org) to promote empowerment, liberation and self-alteration through the arts.      

Many founders mentioned in their introductions that their ideas were based largely off of conversing and sharing perspectives with others.

“During a conversation, I had an idea that LinkedIn’s method could be used to improve the kind of social network that introduces you to new people. A month later, I co-founded a company called ‘Widdet’ to work with various ideas and see which ones had potential,” Founder Jacob Kang said.

Inspired by the consumer desire to stay updated on the status of virtually everything, Quinn Hayes and Rishi Shaw produced a low cost, highly effective product that automates and monitors laundry room appliances.

Keagan Wernicke and Alex Speed, co-founders of Moda Mobile (@Moda_Mobile), found the event to be a valuable time to explore insights about their startup, an application that provides fashion analysis and advice for men.

“We got to chat with some great mentors who offered priceless advice on how to go about running our company,” said Wernicke.

With new insights and connections, each of the founders will continue to receive valuable advice, meet with mentors and pursue their individual startup ventures.

The Freshman Founder’s Startup Demo Day next March will solidify these concepts and refine them into practical, effective business models to display and perpetuate the legacy of UT Austin entrepreneurs.

“This opportunity is truly invaluable to anyone who is interested in starting a company from the ground up,” said Allen.