Texas Venture Labs awarded Angelise Hadley and Tom Jackson, two prospective UT graduate students, scholarships for winning first place in a business pitch competition.
Prospective students apply for the TVL Scholarship, which was started by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs and the Texas MBA program. Semifinalists are invited to Austin to present their ideas in front of a panel of judges who are evaluating the concept, presentation and market potential. However, because some of the judges are admissions officers, they also look at how semifinalists could use their Texas MBA to achieve their goals.
The first-place prize is a scholarship to the MBA program, with $10,000 given for each year in the two-year program.
Tina Mabley, Texas MBA assistant dean, thought of the idea for the competition in her previous role as director of admission.
“A lot of students would say they were entrepreneurs on their applications, you can read about that, but it’s different to see it in practice,” Mabley said.
Announced on Feb. 24, the competition consisted of only 16 semifinalists.
Hadley’s business pitch was inspired by her own hair insecurities because she grew up with curly hair and saw straight hair dominate the media. Her business, EmbraceBox, is a DIY subscription box where each month, curly haired girls are sent a recipe and ingredients to create hair products.
As a prospective MBA student, Hadley said winning made her see what her future in the program could look like.
“It made me feel that, ‘Okay, well if I brought this business to McCombs, all these people would be excited for me,’” Hadley said. “It would allow me to grow my business even further.”
Started with other UT alumni, Jackson presented his business pitch for Locus Tracking. The company has created software which allows smartphone users to control the phone with their eyes.
Jackson said he approaches these high pressure business pitches by going in with a clear head.
“It helps with starting fresh, because you can practice and practice, but when it’s game time, you need a free mind,” Jackson said. “You have to tell yourself that you’ve prepared enough to do well.”
The purpose of the scholarship is to help prospective students test their ideas and see ways to develop it further, Mabley said.
“These businesses have gotten better and better, further and further along in their development,” Mabley said. “I’m excited to see how students will take these businesses to the next level.”