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1 Semester Startup Class Helps Undergrads Launch New Companies

This semester marked the start of a new, unique class at the University of Texas. Titled 1 Semester Startup, the class allowed 75 students, including seven from McCombs, to form teams and create their own start-up company.

John Butler, director of the H.K. Entrepreneurship Center at McCombs, was one of the three instructors for the new program. Along with computer science specialist Joshua Baer and Cockrell School of Engineering professor Bob Metcalfe, Butler led the students in a semester-long, accelerated program that finished Dec. 1 with the presentation of their projects to a crowd of students, professors, and local entrepreneurs.

Butler says the class provided a unique opportunity for students to learn from the entrepreneurship process as well as the business ecosystem in Austin.

"It concentrates on moving technologies from the lab to the market, so it really is a technology and idea transfer class,"Butler says. "The key is to incubate yourself and get as much knowlege and know-how as you can."

Both the Austin American-Statesman and The Daily Texan recently spoke to McCombs students and Butler about the experience.

The Daily Texan
"Student Entrepreneurs Pitch Innovtive Ideas" 
Dec. 2, 2011

The Daily Texan spoke to senior finance major Ian Beckom, an undergraduate peer advisor at McCombs, about his startup idea, called Homeroom. Homeroom is a software company that allows students to chat with professors and fellow students while studying.

Two weeks ago while staying up late cramming for a test, finance senior Ian Beckom wished he could talk to somebody about the questions he had before he took the exam the next day.

Beckom said he wondered what it would be like to chat with professors and fellow students while he studied and why there was not always technology to meet this need. His answer reminded him of why he and three other classmates decided to form Homeroom, a software company that runs an online learning management information system similar to Blackboard.

Beckcom and his team were one of the 20 teams that presented a 5-minute company investor “pitch” to a crowd of more than 200 students, professors and local entrepreneurs at the 1 Semester Startup “Demo Day” showcase Thursday night.

The Austin American-Statesman
"Crash Course to Startup Savvy"
Dec. 4, 2011 

The Austin American-Statesman also covered the new class, and spoke to finance and Mandarin Chinese major Mark Wise about his startup Zilker Motors.

Wise said his mentors helped get his company, Zilker Motors, better positioned to seek first-time funding. Zilker is designing high-efficiency, high-performance two-seat vehicles that can be assembled from a kit.

Chris Taylor, founder of Austin-based Oceanus, which sells software and services to car makers, helped Zilker explore how it would distribute its kits. Public relations veteran Laura Beck got the company thinking about its identity.

"Being a consumer product, that's extremely important, but it hadn't been a priority," said Wise. "Laura helped us think about how we can engage our customer. If the car is going to be sold as a kit, we could have events where owners could get together and build the cars."

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