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 to Silicon Valley to work in a fast-paced environment. It wasn’t until getting involved with Clocr that she revised her understanding of entrepreneurship to more broadly mean building and monetizing an idea, no matter what, where, or when you do it.
Apoorva first came up with Clocr in high school, after her grandfather passed away. “My father was thrust into the role of ‘executor’ and forced to try and determine what my grandfather’s wishes had been and how to disburse his assets,” she recalled. “All of these new responsibilities for my father, while important and urgent, seemed trivial in comparison to our loss. That’s when it hit me — what would I do if I was the one who had to figure all of this out? And, from that question came her idea for her company. Clocr’s mission is to provide families peace of mind via an all-in-one platform for assigning ownership of digital assets and estate planning. Clocr lets you assign each individual online account to specific beneficiaries, as well as store power of attorney, medical proxies, and a myriad of other services.
Clocr soon found success here on the 40 Acres. Apoorva and her team had been working on Clocr as a side hustle through high school and early college, but they took a step to the next level at their first big pitch competition, the SoGal Foundation Global Pitch competition in Silicon Valley in early 2020. “Being there and seeing all the other amazing ideas and companies, it hit me that it was real and that I could get to that phase eventually,” Apoorva recalls. That level of validation motivated her and her team to really go all-in on the venture.
Since then, she has participated in numerous other pitch competitions, most recently DisrupTexas in fall 2020, hosted by the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center (HKEC) . She recalled how DisrupTexas helped her prepare a more concise, 10-minute pitch for her idea, as other competitions that she had competed in weren’t as time-constrained. Clocr finished in second place at DisrupTexas, and her team received $4,000 in prize money. “I really enjoyed the process and the prize money really helped us grow. We needed the prize money to hone the go-to-market strategy. The feedback from the judges was also definitely a helpful perspective.” Outside of DisrupTexas, Apoorva has utilized a number of other University resources. She’s been to several HKEC Ignite Startup Workshops to specifically learn legal skills, and The Launchpad to get connected to advisors and other entrepreneurially-focused student organizations.
Next on the horizon for Clocr is securing more funding. “We were able to bootstrap so far, but now we have to grow marketing and sales. The development is pretty much ready, but we really want to take it to the next level,” she noted. They’ve been meeting with crowdfunding rounds, and have been expanding their network through attending pitch competitions and seminars as audience members to meet all of the adult professional founders. “This next year is the deciding factor on whether this is a sustainable side hustle or deserves full-time attention.” She says she would love to work on the company full time, and is very connected to the idea.
When asked if she has a message for other founders at UT, she said that acknowledging realities is important. “I think it’s really easy to be like ‘just do it’. Find people that are doing something you’re interested in, or someone who has a similar background. The best way to figure out if entrepreneurship is for you is to talk to people who are similar to you, either currently doing it now, or those who have a background in it, and to ask for honest feedback. UT is growing so fast, and there are so many cool things happening on campus. Get involved as much as you can! With everything that’s going on around campus, we have the power to uplift founders if they really want to sink their teeth into it”.