Tag: Dirk Elmendorf

UTSA Holds Biannual Entrepreneur Boot Camp

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace, speaking at an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace, speaking at an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

To launch a business in college, students must master all kinds of skills.
They might have to make a business plan, find funding, do market research, sell products or services, stay on top of legal issues and intellectual property rights and sometimes figure out manufacturing.
This weekend, 150 University of Texas at San Antonio students got an edge on their competition. They covered these topics in less than eight hours in UTSA’s CITE Technology Entrepreneur Boot Camp. The camp featured ten speakers, including Rackspace Hosting co-founders Pat Condon and Dirk Elmendorf.
“Follow your own path. Don’t follow conventional wisdom necessarily,” Condon said. “Some of the conventional wisdom that we did follow that we shouldn’t of was: don’t serve your customers because you can’t make money doing it. Our history is littered with doing things because a lot of other people were doing it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should be doing it that way too.”
Condon and Elmendorf discussed the triumphs and pitfalls of their experiences, speaking at length about a time when Rackspace’s customer support was more abysmal than fanatical. They encouraged the students to push forward with their ideas even if they didn’t feel qualified or smart enough to see them through.
“When you read hacker news, Techcrunch, all that stuff — it always feels like the founders are these anointed geniuses that are passed down from – well, there is founder worship,” Elmendorf said. “Because we give this presentation inside Rackspace, I never want someone who is joining to think it was founded by geniuses and they couldn’t contribute. We were idiots! We got lucky and we worked hard. If you can stick it out and do all those things you can make it.”
Other presenters included YUMIX founder Alex Garner, Jackson Walker Attorney William R. Borchers, and It’s 2Cool Ltd. CEO Deb Prost.
“I hope that I can inspire some of these folks to really take that nugget of an idea that they have and do all the blood, sweat, and tears that you have to do to get to where you really can market a product,” Prost said.
Held biannually, the CITE boot camp is open to students and faculty members and is designed to both inform and encourage students towards a life of entrepreneurship. The students came from a wide variety of situations. Some were getting ready to enter the $100,000 Student Technology Venture Competition with a team and a product. Others were part of the student CEO organization, part of the Certificate of Technology Entrepreneurial Management program, or simply entrepreneurship-minded students hoping to develop their skills.
“We’re taught in our program that whenever you have the opportunity to sit down and talk to people in the tech space that are from a different perspective, it’s always a good idea,” Business Senior Somer Baburek said.
Baburek is currently in the Business College’s entrepreneurship program and is preparing to enter the $100,000 competition with a medical device that wirelessly monitors fetal heart rates in labor and delivery. She attended the event to gain business knowledge and look for additional engineers for her team.
Engineering Senior Davis Richardson is also preparing for the competition, and attended to get better acquainted with the business side of startups. Richardson will be entering the competition with a device that trains students to design hydraulic systems.
“This is a really interesting opportunity because in the engineering college we spend all of our time looking at how to develop products internally,” Richardson said. “It’s not until here, or in electives, that we really get much insight into how this works outside the design process.”
Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan at the UTSA Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan at the UTSA Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Ph.D. Biomedical engineering students Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan also attended the boot camp to buff their business skills. The two students are in UTSA’s Certificate of Technology Entrepreneurial Management program – an optional track designed to give Ph.D. students extra entrepreneurial training so they can launch their own businesses. Coronado and Yuan are currently preparing to launch Mobile Stem Care – which will help veterinarians take advantage of stem cell advancements.
“We have a lot of science in academia but no one around the department can teach us about business,” Coronado said. “Before this course we didn’t have the chance to see how to translate the technology [to market].”
The event also attracted younger students as well. Sophomore David Barrick is not involved in a competition or an entrepreneurship class, but he does have a few ideas for a tech company and attended to learn more about obtaining patents and talking to investors for seed funding.
“I saw this conference on a Tweet in Twitter for UTSA. I have been thinking of starting a tech company, so I saw this and said, ‘yea, this is for me’” said Barrick.
As of this weekend, 1,300 students have now gone through the CITE Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp at UTSA. CITE, short for Center of Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship, is an interdisciplinary center for the colleges of engineering and business directed by Cory Hallam and Anita Leffel. While the boot camp is an achievement for the university, Hallam also sees the event as an essential part of an effort to grow the startup community, and the local economy, of San Antonio.
“We have to feed the pipeline of entrepreneurship in San Antonio, and these are students who will found companies now, found companies later, participate in three day startups, go be part of Geekdom,” Hallam said. “It’s great to be a contributor for San Antonio in that pipeline.”

Silicon Hills Technology Weekly Round-Up

The shortage of technology workers in the Silicon Hills region continues. The Austin American-Statesman today reported that the recent trip technology CEOs from Austin took to California didn’t result in any new employees moving to Texas. Perhaps that’s why San Antonio-based Rackspace recently opened an office in San Francisco. The technology companies have to go where the talent resides. Also on Saturday, Rackspace held a recruiting event called Rackerpalooza at its Austin office. Rackspace also recently expanded its San Antonio headquarters.

On Friday, Dirk Elmendorf, one of the founders of Rackspace, gave a talk at San Antonio’s Startup Ignite’s third monthly Hack-a-thon at the Geekdom in downtown San Antonio.

On Wednesday, Austin-based Portalarium, which makes games for social networks and mobile platforms, announced its first social network game, Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale. Gaming Legend Richard Garriott is developing the game, which will be available for a beta release later this year.

Also on Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that a group of investors including San Antonio Billionaire Red McCombs has invested $1.75 million in an Austin-startup called Bypass Lane, which has created an app that lets people order food and drinks from their seats in a stadium while watching an event.

On Tuesday, the University of Texas honored 40 inventors including Professor John Goodenough and Professor Adam Heller, pioneers of lithium batteries, according to this post from University President Bill Powers.

On Monday, Gowalla’s founder Josh Williams officially announced that Facebook had acquired the Austin-based start-up, but it didn’t acquire the company’s data. It mainly wanted their development team. The Austin American Statesman had a story on the acquisition and didn’t mention anything about the $10 million Gowalla raised in venture capital. But Michael Arrington at Uncrunched reported that the deal might be a liquidation and it was uncertain if investors would get their money back.

On Monday, Globalscape of San Antonio bought Tappin of Seattle in “a deal worth up to $17 million,” according to this story in TechFlash.

Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf’s crowd-sourced talk

Dirk Elmendorf, one of the founders of Rackspace, talks at Startup Ignite's Hack-a-thon

Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf gave a crowd-sourced talk Friday night during San Antonio Startup Ignite’s third Hack-a-thon at the Geekdom.
To start, Elmendorf went to the white board and asked the crowd of about 100 what they wanted to know. People shouted out about a dozen questions including “what was your first entrepreneurial experience, what didn’t you like about school” and “what was your biggest failure?” He wrote down their questions and then spent the next hour answering them and telling stories.
Elmendorf’s first entrepreneurial experience was with his brother selling Xeroxed space invader game sheets for a quarter.
He came from an entrepreneurial family with a lawyer dad and a mom who ran her own catering business. So he thought that was the way of the world.
Elmendorf also worked a whole summer for a company and didn’t get paid. He learned early on about the importance of contracts.
“Lesson number one write shit down and get it signed” Elmendorf said.
When he met Richard Yoo, another co-founder of Rackspace, he presented him with a four-page contract outlining the duties Elmendorf would perform.
In 1998, Yoo, Elmendorf and Pat Condon, all students at Trinity University, formed a web hosting company that became Rackspace. Graham Weston and Morris Miller met with the three later on at a burger joint and they agreed to invest in the company.
Today, Rackspace is a publicly traded company with more than 4,000 employees. Its stock, traded under the symbol RAX, closed at $44.02 share Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Back to his crowd-sourced talk, the thing Elmendorf didn’t like about school was it’s linear instruction.
“I can learn non-directionally all the time,” he said. “I’m a pathological learner.”
He loves Reddit and the Internet.
Someone asked him what he does when he is bored. He cooks. He once took a three-day class in meat fabrication.
What is his most important startup advice?
“It’s a team sport. It’s never just one person,” he said. “Even at the most primitive level it’s a team sport.”
It’s important to like the team you work with at a startup, Elmendorf said.
“If you don’t like them now, it’s not going to get better,” he said. “It’s like parachuting into a bad marriage.”
Elmendorf got along with Rackspace’s core team so well that he still likes them after 13 years of working together.
Also, it’s important to know what you’re good at, Elmendorf said.
“I’m not a good manager,” he said. He likes coding. “The code doesn’t get mad.”
Today, Elmendorf has a new startup, r26D, which created TruckingOffice.com, a small fleet management system. The company has 1,000 customers.
“I like projects that are targeted at small businesses,” Elmendorf said.
He advised the crowd to find a startup that customers like and are willing to pay for its products.
“You do know you can’t buy your own products,” Elmendorf said. “You need to ask yourself who is the customer and how do I serve them?”

TechStars Cloud applicants meetup in San Antonio

The deadline to apply for the TechStars Cloud program is Monday.
But already the program has received several hundred applications for the inaugural TechStars program in San Antonio, said Jason Seats, managing director for TechStars Cloud and cofounder of Slicehost, which San Antonio-based Rackspace acquired.
On Friday night, several of those entrepreneurs met with Rackspace employees and tech company mentors at the Esquire Tavern on the Riverwalk downtown. Some of them travelled from Nashville, Portland, San Francisco, Madison, Wisc. and the United Kingdom.
On Saturday, they will gather on the 11th floor of the Weston Centre downtown from noon until five to hear speakers from Rackspace including one of the founders, Dirk Elmendorf and Rackspace Chairman Graham Weston along with speakers from TechStars.
Seats calls it “TechStars for a day.”
Elmendorf says Rackspace has remade the 11th floor of the Weston Centre into “Geekdom” with plenty of space for start up companies to work and mingle.
The 13-week TechStars Cloud program will start in January and culminate with the TechStars Demo Day in April in which the selected companies will pitch to potential investors. San Antonio is the fifth site for a TechStars program with other locations in Boston, Seattle, New York and Boulder, Colo.
“This location is all about cloud,” Seats said.
The cloud is like “the plumbing of the Internet,” Seats said. It’s the “heavy-lifting technology stuff that takes place behind the scene.”
Seats says the applicants for the TechStars Cloud program, so far, have more of a business to business focus, rather than a business to consumer focus. The applicants span a wide range of industries including music, hosting, infrastructure, video and gaming.
The interest in the program is high because not only do the 10 TechStars Cloud companies receive $18,000 in initial investment but they receive mentoring and access to a network of accomplished entrepreneurs and potential funders.
“It’s a fantastic time to start a new company,” Seats said. “If you’re a developer with a great startup idea, the economy is not hurting for you.”
Most of the TechStar cloud companies will come from outside of San Antonio, Seats said. He expects just one to two to be from this area. And he hopes that the injection of new talent into the San Antonio startup community will serve as a catalyst to spur further companies here. And he hopes some of the companies may decide to stay in San Antonio permanently upon completion of the program.
Seats has met with several of San Antonio’s angel investors and he says the community is starting to invest in technology and biotechnology companies locally.
“There is no scarcity of money in San Antonio,” Seats said. “There’s always money for good ideas and good people.”
Seats just returned from TechStars Demo Day in Seattle. He was especially impressed with Romotive, which creates a kit to turn an iPhone into a robot, Everymove, which works with companies to provide healthy incentives to their employees, Vizify, a social network data analysis site and GoChime, connecting brands with people on social media.

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