Who is Becky Xu?
Becky is a recent UT Austin Alum who graduated in the spring of 2021 with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and minor in Business Foundations. She is now working as a software engineer for Nike. She also continues work on her passion project, the startup Throw-A-Weigh, that she co-founded when an undergraduate.
Before coming to UT, Becky had “zero to no experience with entrepreneurship.” She didn’t expect herself to be in the position she is in now because college was initially meant to be a place for her to complete her degree. Then she realized there was so much opportunity in Austin and its startup community. She first immersed herself in entrepreneurship through the UT College of Natural Science’s Inventor’s Program. Her and her co-founders’ passion for food and public health helped them create the idea behind the startup and her technical skills helped them leverage the startup.
What is Throw-A-Weigh?
Throw-A-Weigh is a Green Tech startup aimed at reducing food waste in grocery stores and vendors. The startup works to help manage and measure food waste. Most stores don’t have exact measurement systems. Even if they do, they are non-uniform measurements that vary drastically from ounces to cubic centimeters. The creators of Throw-A-Weigh wanted to facilitate data driven solutions. The first step for them was to find a problem and collect data to understand the problem. Becky and her co-founders decided to pursue Throw-A-Weigh as a venture because of her experience with the Food and Health curriculum at UT. In the course, Becky was given a problem statement and asked, “What, Where, and Why of food waste?” While the startup is still in the prototype development process, Becky hopes to continue with this project and plans to collaborate with the UT Senior Design Program for further support and array of fresh ideas.
Becky’s experience with DisrupTexas and the McCombs Entrepreneur Summer Fellowship.
Speaking on DisrupTexas, Becky says that, “DisrupTexas was [Throw-A-Weigh’s] first major pitch competition and the first time I had to prepare a pitch deck and form a persuasive argument for why we needed funding.” After going through a lot of accelerators posted on the UT Startup Ecosystem, this helped Becky and her co-founders develop the venture tremendously. DisrupTexas was a great opportunity to transition Throw-A-Weigh from a school project to a business idea and to meet new people and discover other avenues. Furthermore, it pushed the founders into thinking more about developing their business strategy. “Everything comes down to how we market and who we choose to serve,” Becky says.
As for securing a McCombs Entrepreneur Summer Fellowship, Becky was proud of the validation the win provided the team and their idea. As well as thankful that, as their first foray into the UT entrepreneurship space, the Fellowship got them on the path to where they are today. The support helped Becky believe more in the possibility of commercializing Throw-A-Weigh, “and how it could be expanded into much more than just a class project.”
Next Steps for Becky and Throw-A-Weigh?
The venture did not only give Becky a passion project that she devoted most of her non-class time to as a student, but opened her eyes and got her fully immersed in Austin’s startup community. Throw-A-Weigh has gifted Becky valuable, supportive connections with other student entrepreneurs. “It is just exciting to see that we are all on this journey together,” she says, as her peers constantly share tips and tricks for pitching, funding, and upcoming competitions.
On the horizon for Throw-A-Weigh is a final pitch round of MEDA in late fall in Minneapolis, where a million dollar financial contribution will be divided between the winning team. As mentioned before, the team has submitted an application for the Cockrell Senior Design Program where they seek to leverage resources from the engineering school and bring in contributions from other UT students.
Becky’s top tips to Student Entrepreneurs?
1. Step out of your comfort zone.
“As an introvert myself, I would have never wanted to set foot on stage before my entrepreneurial journey. But, I quickly realized that once you find something you’re passionate about, it becomes so easy to be vocal and want to speak to others about it.”
2. Fail fast and learn from it.
“Try interactive hands-on experiences. You can learn and improve through feedback.”
3. Do something and go from there.
“Try out CNS design sprints- They’re low commitment and you can see if you like the experience first before jumping in.”
4. Find your people-co founders and colleagues.
“UT is such a big campus and there are so many brilliant people out there. I strongly suggest student entrepreneurs find their people and just start communicating their ideas with them.”
When asked the question “Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur and what does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you, Becky replied, “I guess I would say I’m an entrepreneur. I consider myself a life-long learner because in the entrepreneurial world there are so many things I don’t know and even if I do know it’s just the tip of an iceberg. I like how there’s never really an end to learning in entrepreneurship. Seeing ideas coming to life and connecting with people is inspiring.”
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center’s FOUNDER STORIES are monthly blogs that allow the Center to highlight students working on entrepreneurship and innnovation at UT Austin. Our blogs feature UT student founders and spotlight their ventures, recent accomplishments, and any specific entrepreneurship resources they have utilized to accelerate their startup or grow their entrepreneurial mindset.