Students Encouraged To Start Businesses at UT Conference

First UT entrepreneurship conference exposes students to business leaders, professors, and others who share company-launching tips.

Can I start a business as a student? When do I know if I’m educated enough to start one? Do I call myself a founder?

Students got the answers to these questions and more at the first UT Student Entrepreneurship Conference held recently on the UT campus, presented by the Technology Entrepreneurship Society and the Scientific Entrepreneurship Society.

With a live Twitter feed in the background, the event included two panel discussions, a student start-up company showcase, and lunch provided by the Austin Small Business Development Program. Participants were able to ask questions and network with a variety of entrepreneurship experts from UT faculty and staff to Austin business leaders.

Speakers included Joshua Baer, managing director of Capital Factory in downtown Austin; Kate Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at UT and co-founder of the liberal arts entrepreneurship course; and Dr. Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation and chair of free enterprise at UT.

Metcalfe said the most common barrier for students starting companies is that they don’t know they are allowed to. Often students feel as though they need someone to give them permission. “I hereby give you all permission,” he joked.

Another pitfall for young entrepreneurs is not being educated enough to run a business, but it’s not all about getting another degree, according to Brooks.

“It’s more about knowledge than education,” Brooks said. “You can acquire the people who have the knowledge.”

A lot of start-ups fail, however, because they don’t avoid “founder” title issues. “Founder” is not a job title, Metcalfe said. Start-ups should instead employ the word “Founderati” to describe anyone involved in the creation of the business, but not to describe their job function.

“[Business] ideas are a dime a dozen,” Metcalfe said. “What matters is if you’re able to assemble a team to take on that idea.

Photo by Ritchie Jose


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