Zachary Cook

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Zachary Dell, son of Michael Dell, will be joining with StartATX on Tuesday evening for a presentation about student entrepreneurship. 

StartATX is a campus organization founded in the spring as a networking and resources group for students in start-up businesses. 

It was created and is run by Sebastian Bruce, a computer science and business economics senior, with co-president Zachary Cook, a management information systems senior. 

Bruce said he was inspired to create StartATX when he learned about similar organizations at schools such as Harvard University and Penn State. He said there are other groups at UT designed for students beginning to consider small business, but there is nothing like StartATX, 

“We’re hoping to primarily target people who are [already] in start-ups,” Bruce said.

Cook said he felt the
organization was important because student entrepreneurs face challenges specific to running a small business. 

“Starting a business when you’re a full-time student is such a unique experience,” Cook said. “It is a lot of responsibility and risk.” 

Bruce and Cook said students behind start-ups struggle with finding mentors, co-founders and investors. StartATX provides students with the support, advice and a pool of contacts entrepreneurs need. 

“There’s a start-up culture [in Austin] but it’s very young,” Bruce said. 

Bruce said StartATX plans to enrich this culture, and said he hopes to see success stories come from their organization. The co-presidents are being mentored by McCombs’ Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brett Hurt and receive input from Michael Dell.

Last summer Bruce met with Zachary Dell to discuss the development of Dell’s new business. Dell, a junior in high school, is already working on his second company. Dell’s latest project is a new mobile app called “Interested,” which will be released in 3 to 4 weeks. 

His first business was a sports camp he founded with his cousins. According to Dell, entrepreneurship is like a baseball game.

“You swing until you hit it with a new company … maybe we’ll hit a homerun, maybe we’ll strike out,” Dell said. “But it won’t be the last time I step up to the plate.” 

He said his father’s guidance has been helpful in establishing these start-ups, but he chooses to learn through his own experiences, 

“My dad has been an incredible influence — he never forced anything on me, but he was always there to say, ‘Read this book’ or, ‘Contact this guy’ when I had new ideas,” Dell said. “I’ve learned things I wouldn’t have if I’d gone straight to my dad.”

Dell said he plans to bring those experiences and his passion for small business together in his speech on Tuesday.

More information can be found at StartATX.org.

University of Texas students James Scott Tucker, Sunny Das and Zachary Cook founded Texas Custom Apparel, a company that makes custom t-shirts for student organizations.

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Three UT students have created a new start-up company to provide custom design apparel to students and local businesses.

Texas Custom Apparel was an answer to a problem, said finance senior Sunny Das, who is also a Student Government McCombs Representative on the Finance Committee.

When appropriating funds to different student organizations, as a part of the committee, Das said he saw no continuity in pricing with the different vendors for shirts. Now as co-founder and CEO of Texas Custom Apparel, Das hopes his company can become the go-to vendor for student organization.

“Companies charge a lot for something that could cost a lot less and be done in less time.” said Das.

Das said the company provides shirts at a faster pace than most. Some orders can arrive the next day. The quick turnaround is a result of Texas Custom Apparel collaborating only with US companies, most of them being in Austin or Texas.

Alpha Chi Omega member and business sophomore Montana Bruhl, who used the service, said the her organization got the shirts in a much faster manner than usual. 

“It would usually take months for shirts to come in with our large orders, but with them, it was very timely and very professional,” Bruhl said.

Bruhl said the customer service and low price for custom shirts is what stood out to her and is why she would recommend Texas Custom Apparel to other student groups.   

Das is not alone in the start-up. His co-founders are petroleum engineering junior James Scott Tucker and management information systems senior Zachary Cook who serve as Texas Custom Apparel‘s president and chief technology officer, respectively. The company also employs two designers with whom customers can meet to discuss design details face-to-face.

Tucker said running the company while being a student is not easy, especially with the 18-hour schedule he will have in the fall. But, he said, it is worth it.

“It’s my baby and I will to go to the office after class and get to the shirts,” Tucker said.

Right now, the company is working out of the Incubator, a space provided for student start-ups on the seventh floor of the UT Administration building, said Cook. The space is provided by Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency.

Grant Heimer, Director of the LEA and finance senior, said college is the best time to start a business while a student’s network is growing. He expects more start-ups similar to Texas Custom Apparel to develop.

“Considering that UT-Austin has some of the brightest students in the country and that the city of Austin is a top-tier, national startup hub, it makes perfect sense to expect a growing entrepreneurial culture on our campus,” Heimer said.

Das said some of the goals for the company include creating long-term contracts with different organizations, expanding their line past shirts and tanks to more apparel, including fanny packs, and receiving brand rights from UT.

The website to make orders and request different design details will be up and running by August 1, said Cook. People currently make orders by contacting the company.

Tucker said the company wants to eventually offer its services to other Texas schools.

Follow Luqman Adeniyi on Twitter @StopnLuqman