Mark Cuban

Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban spoke to students Tuesday evening about business lessons from his personal experience.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban gave encouragement and guidance to college students about their futures as he detailed the business lessons he learned from succeeding and failing over the years.

Cuban, who is also known for his role as an investor in the popular television show “Shark Tank,” spoke Tuesday as part of the Delta Sigma Pi-Beta Kappa Chapter speaker series. According to DSP, 600 students attended the sold-out event.

“UT is a great school, but the most important thing you’re going to learn … is that the world is constantly changing,” said Cuban. “Don’t stress. You’ll figure it out. When you’re 21, 22, 23, you’re allowed to [mess] up. So, while you’re at UT, try different things.”

Cuban said his 20s were a time when he challenged himself to figure out what business ventures worked best for him.

Cuban spoke about his financial burdens as an early entrepreneur, as well as his prosperous startup ideas, such as Internet streaming in the 1990s. He also joked about the “rock star” fun he now has as a multi-millionaire and shared personal college stories about business projects that he started, such as a bar near Indiana University — his alma mater.

Cuban’s story and advice is especially significant at a university such as UT, where many college students are trying to find successful business models as they enter the professional world, said Erika Storli, vice president of DSP Chapter Operations.

“Sometimes as students, you see other successful people and ask yourself why you can’t do better and feel like you’re failing,” Storli said. “[Cuban] showed that he failed and made so many mistakes, but he was able to get back up and keep going. I think that’s inspiring for the average college student.”

Storli said DSP chose Cuban because of his professional values, which she said the fraternity believes are important principles for college students to learn.  

Cuban’s visit to UT indicates how much he cares about helping the next generation, taxation graduate student Candice Dipaolo said.

 “He thinks that we’re important and that we’re the future, and he wants to empower us to believe that we can do anything we want,” Dipaolo said. “He is relatable because the details he tells about his life shows that at one time he was just like one of us and in
our position.”

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Student entrepreneurs presented their startup business ideas to a group of business owners and investors including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star on Shark Tank, and Cotter Cunningham, local founder and CEO of RetailMeNot.

The 14 student groups are within Longhorn Startup, which is a program that offers support and mentorship to student startups.

Joshua Baer, co-founder of Longhorn Startup and founder of Capital Factory, said the event was a chance for students to present their companies, as if they were pitching to investors. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event Thursday. Capital Factory is an Austin-based company that helps local entrepreneurs launch startups.

“This is a culmination of the work of this semester,” Baer said. “We have over 200 investors registered to be here. Most of the 14 groups are not ready for that, but it’s okay. A lot of investors want to get to know people before they invest in them.”

Baer said there was previously a system of support for graduate students in startup businesses, but very little was offered for undergraduate students before Longhorn Startup was founded.

Robert Metcalfe, engineering professor and co-founder of Longhorn Startup, said they were able to offer new resources and registered classes for undergraduate startups.

“We decided to look for something that wasn’t being handled,” Metcalfe said. “There’s a lot of startup activity at UT. It was undergraduate students who were not being helped.”

Biomedical engineering senior Ani Sharma presented MicroMulsion, a new technology for cell culture research.

“I was definitely nervous,” Sharma said. “I thought I’d forget my first line, but it went really well. I’m really happy with the presentation.”

Sharma said he has learned through the semester what it takes to put together and commercialize a product.

“I just want to hear the feedback people give me as we look to move our business forward,” Sharma said.

Cuban said he would be interested in investing in about half of the companies he saw.

“The difference here from Shark Tank is that you have to have sales,” Cuban said. “But other than that, I would say some of the pitches I saw here tonight were better than ones I’ve seen on Shark Tank.”

Cuban discussed his past experiences with business, from his teenage years when he sold stamps to his current ownership of the Dallas Mavericks. He also gave advice to entrepreneurs.

Cuban said an entrepreneur needs to know their business, industry and product. He recommended looking at companies that fail as well as companies that succeed.

“I like to retweet stories about companies that have failed because that’s the most valuable information and those are the hardest stories to find,” Cuban said. “Everybody wants to tell you about their success, but the ones that fail are the most telling.”