Seismos, a company that combines the power of CO2 and sound waves to release oil reserves trapped underground after drilling, won first place at last week’s Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (VLIC). The competition, presented by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) to give students experience with earning venture capital, was held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. Twenty-one teams of University of Texas graduate students presented their business pitches in the semifinals, and five progressed to the final competition for $135,000 in prizes. Additionally, the winning team received automatic entrance into the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition and a year’s residence in the Austin Technology Incubator. The final round was judged by Isaac Barchas, Morgan Flager, Shelley Hossenlopp, Robert Reeves, and Jerry Sullivan.
Seismos, comprised of MSTC students Panos Adamopoulos, ’13, Omar Hernandez, ’13, Stevan Slusher, ’13, and Devin Bedwell, ’13, began in the classroom of Professor Rob Adams. Bedwell, the team leader, said that the team was excited but not surprised by their win.
“Not to sound too overconfident, but we knew we had something,” Bedwell said. “We had a validated market pain and a technology that could address that pain, plus, it is oil and gas so we knew we had a big market. There were other really good teams, and we knew we had some strong competition, but we were expecting to do well.”
Second place in the competition went to BeatBox Beverages, an alcohol-beverage startup by a team of second-year MBA students, and third place went to GluTact, a startup run by a team of MSTC students who are commercializing a technology to monitor and deliver insulin via contact lenses.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Texas VLIC competition and was the competition’s largest. Much of the growth is attributed to Rob Warren, the new Assistant Director of Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs. Warren, former executive director for entrepreneurship at the Asper School of Business University of Manitoba, joined TVL this year. He said for this competition he focused mainly on bringing in students from a variety of graduate programs, including teams of engineering students, communications students, and students from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He also aimed to create a more realistic experience, to help students better develop investor-ready new businesses.
Warren said that the competition encourages innovation both inside and outside of the classroom, and its success makes The University of Texas at Austin a standout campus for entrepreneurship.
“It’s really put this school at the forefront of student entrepreneurship in the world, and this is why we’re constantly moving up in the rankings—because we’re being very innovative,” Warren said. “We’re taking the competition one more level up, and that is providing even more real-world experience for our students and is also driving them towards thinking about starting a business when they’re here.”
Warren encouraged all the teams from this year’s competition to participate in other such contests across the country, to gain more experience and potentially secure a spot in the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition.
Seismos’ Hernandez said that while his team has a lot of work left to do, they are excited about the chance to compete at GVLIC, the “Super Bowl of Investment Competitions,” which will be held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in May.
“Personally, I feel very positive about [our chances],” Hernandez said. “I think the odds are very good for us. We’re already working on our business plan and integrating some of the feedback we received last week. I feel that the odds can only get better for us.”
Reposted from McCombs Today