Longhorn Startup Lab Demo Day Thursday night.With the University of Texas cheerleaders kicking things off, student entrepreneurs pitched nine companies at
It’s the fourth time Longhorn Startup Lab, formerly known as 1 Semester Startup, has held a Demo Day.
And it was the highest graded crop of companies yet, said Josh Baer, one of three class instructors.
The entrepreneurs had fully developed ideas, solid business plans and some already had customers, advertisers and sponsors. They gave polished pitches in front of an audience of several hundred students, investors, mentors and others at the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium.
“To be honest, I’m kind of jealous of the Longhorn startup camp group, because when I was in my undergrad they were just starting to figure out entrepreneurship,” said Keith Casey, who has served as an official mentor to the program for two semesters.
He did a startup his sophomore year of college but he didn’t have mentors or any of the resources these teams have available to them, he said.
“The fact these students can get plugged in, starting realistically their freshman year, I’m so jealous,” he said.
The Longhorn Startup Lab companies span the entire spectrum of experience from startups that have been through the program before and have a solid foundation to one company that just shifted focus in the last week, Casey said.
Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at UT, Baer and Ben Dyer, entrepreneur in residence at UT, lead the semester long class in which students work on launching a company.
“Every class is different,” said Dyer.
And it’s difficult to compare one semester’s class to the next one, he said. But he thinks that maybe there will be a Michael Dell that spins out of the class in the future.
Many of the companies like Clay.io, Servuss, CrowdRX, TeamPi and Suit of Clubs took last semester’s course. Members of the startups are allowed to take the course twice to further develop their ideas. Often, they pivot or change the course of their company during the semester.
Justin Crites with CrowdRX, said his company took the class twice because his team wanted to get as many free resources for their company for as long as he could.
“Our product takes a long time to develop because it’s in the health industry,” Crites said. CrowdRX’s technology crunches big data sets and provides doctors with information on how best to treat stroke patients.
The other teams pitching included BluSense, Future Business Networks, OverLotus and Burpy.
David Stanwick, CEO of Future Business Networks, a gaming portal with 39 games, said the company had 1.4 million visitors in January with 29.9 million ad impressions and generated $4,500 in monthly revenue.
During the last three months, Future Business Networks had seen a 62 percent increase in revenue, Stanwick said.
Forrest Dukes leads the BluSense team, which is developing a wristband with built in sensors to allow people to network with others at conferences.
Clay.io, a platform for HTML 5 game developers, had 2,500 users at the start of the semester and 100 games in its marketplace. It now has 7,500 users and 300 games, said Radhika Sakalkale, who runs the site along with Austin Hallock and Robert Leung.
Servuss, which makes a learning platform that competes with Blackboard and WebCT, has customers in the Leander Independent School District, testing its technology.
Burpy, with a slogan of “Order it. Get it. Burp it” wants to deliver groceries to your doorstep. It launched 31 days ago and has had 70 orders with five returning customers. Its average order was $21.22.
Its competitors in the space are Peapod, AmazonFresh, eBayNow, and WalMart To Go.
The idea was tired by Kozmo.com, UrbanFetch and Webvan during the dot com boom and all failed.
Those failed dot com had their own inventory. Burpy gets its groceries from local retailers and eventually plans to crowdsource deliver of the groceries.
Burpy thinks the timing is right and it’s able to execute on the idea efficiently and effectively.
TeamPi is a marketplace for automated stock trading algorithms.
Suit of Clubs, formerly Beehive from last semester, has already landed Microsoft, Google and Amazon as corporate sponsors.
The last company to pitch was OverLotus, which connects customers to restaurants, focuses on generating new business for restaurants and on customer retention.
Many of the students said they planned to continue their ventures after the class.
The University of Texas is developing new resources and partnerships to allow that to happen.
Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency formed a year ago to foster student entrepreneurship, said Grant Heimer, incoming director of the agency. Its main focus is to get a space on campus for students to interact with each other, he said.
“We want to enhance the entrepreneurial spirit on campus,” he said.
Nine Companies Pitch at Longhorn Startup Lab Demo Day
April 26, 2013 by Leave a Comment