3 Ways to Learn About Entrepreneurship in Austin


An  amateurs bag of tricks for starting a venture on a (student) budget.

The following blog post was written by Iva Paleckova. Iva is a second year MBA student at UT and co-founder of a recently started venture  and Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly Moot Corp) finalist– Garage Fairy.

We want boundless success in life. We also want to be good at what we do and contribute to society. Some of us feel that success is getting an 120-hour a week job as an investment banker, while others want to build their career around a not-for profit cause. Then there is a small group of folks who want to run their own little kingdom. Something tells me that if you are reading this article, you may as well be one of us. Congrats, you came to the right place. I am in your shoes, and going through this very process as we speak. I spend my days thinking, working, talking and breathing my latest venture idea, and am here to share some tips.

 Business school teaches us a lot of things, some are more practical than others for the entrepreneur. We take class after class in marketing, yet we have no clue how to actually get our product to the market. We don’t know how customers find us on the Internet, or any idea as to how to run a radio ad. We have no clue how to write a website, or how much it will cost to get it done. Sound familiar? Well – there are ways you can gain a lot of entrepreneurship knowledge at UT, and in other places as well

1. Take or audit classes with Nolen, Doggett and Adams at McCombs, UT.

You can’t miss classes from professors like Nolen, Dogget, Adams, Martin or Meakin.

Here are the ones I liked the best:

Jim  Nolen’s small business finance course. The first half of the course will walk you through the legal aspects of incorporation, forms, getting financed, the differences between the various types of financing.  The second half is focused on Valuation which was a little less fun and more work, but still made for a fantastic class.

Jeffrey Martin’s Entrepreneurial Management is an intro, A-Z entrepreneurship class, that covers a lot of topics to get you started and boost your confidence that you can do it too.

If you already have an idea for your startup, you can’t miss Rob Adams’ New Venture Creation class, where you get to work the whole semester on your business plan. Each class also reviews one or more business plans, some good, some bad, which gives you some vicarious experience in succeeding and failing without all the grief involved it doing it yourself.

John Doggett’s Entrepreneurial Growth is a case-based class. It doesn’t provide you with a step-by-step instructions on starting a venture as the others do, but it is a fantastic supplement, includingplenty of real world examples. Most importantly, however, graduating from McCombs and not having taken a class with Doggett is regrettable.

2. Learn what’s happening outside UT

The article ‘Never Mind the Valley: Here’s Austin’ nicely summarized  how lucky we are to live in Austin, TX. You don’t have to rely on amateur students blog posts to get  good information about entrepreneurship from great entrepreneurs, there are resources all over the place!

Follow people on Twitter who are usually apprised to the goings on in the the entrepreneurial scene: @ATI_UT, @davidwenger, @joshuabaer, @ABJentrepreneur, @ricealliance, @momoaustin, @techdrawl, @bootstrapaustin, @texasSUMU  and @austinventures.

Keep your eye on the abj entrepreneur calendar. There are cool events around the area that you can get yourself involved in.

3. Attend Entrepreneurship Events

There are tons of events and opportunities to meet like-minded folks in Austin. Attend Austin’s Premier Enterpreneur’s Workshop starting on March 24th organized by the Austin Technology Incubator. The workshop costs only $125, and includes 9 classes, each focusing on a different aspect of entrepreneurship such as legal, formation, presenting skills, market validation, business plan writing, finding a co-founder, and so on. It’s worth it, especially if you missed any of the relevant  UT classes.

Capital Factory and Tech Ranch hold various workshops and opportunities to meet other entrepreneurs too. Follow @capitalfactory on Twitter for the latest info.

There are  a wide variety of events for different niches: Mobile Monday for mobile apps creators, Clean Energy Bears with Michael Weber, Symbiosis for bio-tech entrepreneurs, and plenty others.

If you can't find a group for your particular niche, consider organizing a meetup. Don't worry if you're not as experienced as others in the community – everybody in the meetup will appreciate any effort you put into organization, and you will get a great chance to meet others in your professional community.

Over the next few blog posts, I’ll focus on generating cost effective business ideas and outsourcing business functions.  Stay tuned and tweet me at @ivi_cz.


The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily The University of Texas at Austin.

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