HKEC Director, Luis Martins, Program Manager, Amanda Golden, and Forty Acres Founders Pre-Accelerator Program Pitch Finalists and Judges.

On Thursday, April 29, 2021, four undergraduate students had a chance to pitch their business idea for a prize pool of $20,000, as part of the second Forty Acres Founders Pre-Accelerator Program final pitch competition hosted by the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center (HKEC) at the McCombs School of Business. This semester, the program was conducted in partnership with Bank of America, which sponsored five students in the program with the goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship.

As a part of the pre-accelerator program, students spent 14 weeks establishing product-market fit for their startup concepts by interviewing potential customers…


The Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center believes that entrepreneurship should be accessible to anyone who is passionate about turning their ideas for solving problems into a reality. Given how much of a challenge it already is to successfully start and run a business, some students can get discouraged by their perceived lack of “fitting the mold” of a traditional entrepreneur archetype. Additionally, good ideas can come from anyone, so diverse representation in the field of entrepreneurship is essential for moving the community forward. For these reasons, HKEC, in partnership with the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, McCombs Social Innovation Initiative, the…


Vaishnavi Lakshmanan, Founder of BoxEDU

“Anybody can be an entrepreneur by making use of the resources around them.” That is the message that April’s featured founder, Vaishnavi Lakshmanan, has for students at The University of Texas at Austin. “Don’t think too much. Don’t think about your background or your circumstances, just identify a problem and work to solve it.”

Vaishnavi is a junior Public Health major at the College of Natural Sciences. She is currently involved in multiple science honor societies and spends her time doing research on campus. Before starting at UT, Vaishnavi recalls having very little entrepreneurial experience. She identified her interest in…


Vanessa Ogle (right) and Amanda Golden (left)

On Wednesday, April 7, 2021, the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center was joined by tech entrepreneur Vanessa Ogle for Entrepreneurship Live! moderated by HKEC Program Director Amanda Golden. Vanessa is the founder and CEO of Enseo, named one of the 500 fastest growing companies in America by Financial Times in 2020.

Vanessa graduated from the University of Texas in 1991 with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing, and a B.A. in Spanish. After graduation, she stayed in Austin and went to work for her father’s company, where she handled sales and marketing for Latin America. Over time, she shifted to…


Thomas Smith, Founder of Vrify Health

There’s no common background or set pathway to becoming an entrepreneur, which is why executing on a business idea is all the more challenging and rewarding. As we continue highlighting the entrepreneurial activities of students and alumni, this month’s founder story revolves around Thomas Smith, founder of Vrify Health.

Tom, originally from Chicago, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Chinese and Business Administration. While a student, Tom joined the Air Force ROTC and, since graduating, works as a contracting officer at the USAF base in Colorado Springs.

Tom first got involved with…


Apoorva Chintala, CEO and Co-Founder of Clocr Inc.

It may not come as a surprise, but The University of Texas at Austin campus is teeming with entrepreneurial activity. Between student ventures and graduate and faculty research, there’s no shortage of opportunity to build the future. This month, we’re highlighting undergraduate founder Apoorva Chintala, CEO and Co-founder of Clocr Inc.

Apoorva is currently a third year MIS and Plan II Economics major. She’s from Austin, Texas, and is currently involved in the Senate of College Councils and the Indian Students Association. She identified entrepreneurship as an interest early on, however her initial interpretations of what that meant were moving…


On Saturday, November 7th, 2020, 16 undergraduate teams competed in DisrupTexas, the fifth annual “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition sponsored by the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at the McCombs School of Business.

DisrupTexas is an annual pitch competition for undergraduate students at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to a monetary prize, the contest awards software credits from Amazon Web Services worth $5,000 for each team who reached the finals. As well as access to patent curriculum from our partner, Lumenci . …


This past Wednesday, October 21, the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship (HKC) hosted our first Ignite Startup Workshop of the Fall 2020 Semester, on the topic “Startup Funding Basics”. The Center was joined by Brian Hall, attorney at Traverse Legal, PLC, as well as a Herb Kelleher Center Entrepreneur-In-Residence. This interactive workshop explored the common terms incorporated in startup funding options and the best practices for evaluating founders’ optimal investment strategy.

Brian Hall is a practicing attorney with Traverse Legal, PLC (Hall Law) and the managing partner of its Austin, Texas office. He is the founder of TraverseGC.com, a monthly…


Establishing a cozy atmosphere by her fireside, Care.com founder Stephanie Breedlove joined the Herb Kelleher Center for a discussion of her inspirational experiences as an entrepreneur at Entrepreneurship Live! on Thursday, October 8th.

Breedlove highlighted her startup journey, including some lessons she learned from her corporate career, and what her experience has been like as a successful woman founder. This virtual “fireside chat” was moderated by Program Director Amanda Golden, and followed by a Q&A from the audience.

After getting her MBA, Breedlove began her journey at the consulting firm Accenture, where she worked for six years. There, Breedlove says…


2020 Intro to the UT/Austin Startup Ecosystem Presentation

With all the resources available to student entrepreneurs both on and around campus, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the robust University and Austin entrepreneurial community. On Thursday, September 24, the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship sought to provide some direction with the fifth annual Intro to the UT/Austin Startup Ecosystem Presentation and Trade Show, hosted by HKC Program Manager, Amanda Golden and Executive Director of the Texas Venture Labs, Mellie Price. They were joined by over 20 organizations at the university and in Austin.

The presentation kicked off with Amanda…

Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center

At HKEC, we’re all about igniting world changing ideas and preparing UT Austin student founders with the tools for startup success. herbkellehercenter.com

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