- SXSW 2014
Texas MSTC team Alex Garcia, Albert Alvarez, Wendell Johnson, Wendy Wu, Wayne Whitmire and Ravine Woods with the Director of Venture Labs, Dr. Rob Adams.
A UT-Austin technology team took second place in Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, while the first place team from Northwestern University included a UT engineering grad.
The UT-Austin Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) team named “Athena” was the first runner-up in the 29th annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition held on May 5 on campus. NuMat Technologies from Northwestern University took first place with the help of a UT engineering graduate in order to win the grand prize of a $135,000.
NuMat beat out 15 international and 22 US top MBA program rated teams during the two-day competition with Athena Laboratories close behind.
The Global Venture Labs Investment Competition was started at UT in 1984 by MBA students. It is the oldest new venture competition in the world. Sponsored by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, the competition allows for creation of new ventures to take place at UT. The program provides education, mentors, market and business plan support, team building, networking, resources and funding.
Simulating the process of raising venture capital by bringing graduate students and business professionals together, judges for the event act as an investment group by determining which project they would fund. Decisions on the winner of the competition are based off of the quality of the idea, strength of the management team and the quality of the team’s written and oral persuasive communication.
Finals round judges this year were William Glasgow of Prime IX Investments, Phil Speros of Halsa Pharmaceuticals, Mike Dodd of Austin Ventures and Thomas Pickens III of Astrotech Corporation.
Known for their design and creation of high-performance materials that store clean fuels, NuMat operates as an industry that produces on a large scale. Aside from cash, COO Tabrez Ebrahim and Chris Wilmer also received for NuMat: Austin Technology Incubator office space, mentoring and consulting services, a full-page ad in Inc. magazine, consultation with McCombs entrepreneurship faculty, which is valued at $25000, and the right to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market on July 27.
Ebrahim, a UT alumnus, received his B.S. in Mechnaical Engineering from the Cockrell School of Engineering. He has also assisted the Austin Technology Incubator through his work with cleantech startups. From Austin Technology Incubator, one billion dollars in investor capital has been raised to aid 200-plus startups.
“It feels really good to be an alum – Austin’s my favorite place,” Ebrahim told McCombs Today.
Athena Laboratories, which is the first team from the Master’s of Science in Technology Commercialization program to reach the finals round, was first runner-up in the competition. The team consisted of CEO Ravine Woods, Alex Garcia, Albert Alvarez, Wendy Wu, Wendell Johnson and Wayne Whitmire. They received $5000 and prizes for “Outstanding Product” and “Outstanding Presentation.” Athena Laboratories specializes in medical devices and the creation of FemtoSmooth, a laser that treats cellulite in a less painful manner.
“It was an amazing feeling and we look forward to more amazing feelings like that in the future,” Woods said.
Michael Garel, an EMBA student, won the $1,000 E. Craig Nemec Achievement Challenge award and an award for “Outstanding Written Business Plan” for his startup eyeQ. Garel’s startup uses video analytics to give consumers an online shopping experience and retailers the ability to monitor marketing decisions based off of consumer purchases.
A $3000 prize was awarded to Sustainable Agriculture Solutions of Universidad de Los Andes in Columbia. The company produces an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer that uses CDS, a patented nanotechnology that protects crop nutrients, to save fertilizer cost, increase productivity and protect the environment.
Also, the first-ever $10,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy prize was awarded to a team from Thammasat University in Thailand for their startup Paramaxx. Paramaxx is a proprietary technology that extracts minerals from industrial waste. The minerals, such as magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, are both natural and valuable.
“The learning and understanding of your business and what investors are looking for, that you get from the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, is amazing and it really teaches something that you can’t get in the classroom,” Woods from Athena Laboratories said. “I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested.”