Business Class Helps Students Receive Funding

Two student businesses receive funding commitments through commercialization course.

Glow Station T-shirts LLC investors team

Glow Station LLC investors team

Two Texas Tech University student businesses, created in a Rawls College of Business commercialization class, received funding commitments after presenting their business concepts to a team of investors in Fort Worth.

The class is part of Rawls’ cross-disciplinary programming that enables all Texas Tech University System students to collaborate around technology commercialization.  Students form hypothetical companies and take on inventions that have either been filed through Texas Tech’s Office of Technology Commercialization or presented to the class as an original idea from students themselves.

“The students act like a company, they meet like a company, they keep minutes like a company, everything runs like a company except they’re still just students in the course,” said Ronald K. Mitchell, entrepreneurship professor and J.A. Bagley Chair in Management.

The student companies work all semester developing business model necessary for their product. Weekly updates are required, Mitchell said, to see how projects have progressed.  Some student companies don’t advance their product successfully each week, and top teams are invited to present to investors in Fort Worth.

“It’s like polishing a car, you put on one coat of wax and you shine it and it looks pretty good, then you put it on again,” Mitchell explained, “or you may find a flaw and that won’t allow you to go forward.”

This semester two companies were selected to go to Fort Worth: Glow Station LLC and BundleCashBack.com.

Raphael Akinsipe, Richard Dorn and Brandon Morris created Glow Station LLC, which provides sound-sensitive, light-up apparel for college sports fans.

Team members from BundleCashBack.com, Yi Guo, Avesta Hojjati, Zach Atkinson and Ryan Gartman, created an app allowing users to find the best-cash back deals while shopping.

“It’s a pretty high bar,” Mitchell said of the presentation to the investors. “People can’t just go spend money on your idea because you think it’s the best on campus; you have to be able to go deliver something.”

Both teams received funding commitments from an investment team led by Marc Gunderson, the Rawls College of Business Entrepreneur-in-Residence.  Students said the knowledge and comments they received during the commercialization class helped them present their products effectively.

Guo, a senior computer science major from Handan, China, said he joined the class to benefit from an instructor’s perspective as an investor.

“I learned the process that one has to go through if considering starting up a business,” Guo said, “Specifically, I believe the experience of creating legal documents will be beneficial in the future.”

After receiving funding commitments, Mitchell said, the businesses are no longer hypothetical and students take on the responsibility of managing a real company.

“The professors are not involved in it,” Mitchell said.  “The students start running this company and try to make milestones that they’ve set for this company.”

For the next step the businesses must write a memorandum of understanding to present to investors.

Gou said starting a business comes second to the lessons he learned in the class.

Mitchell recommends this class to anyone who wants to commercialize a product they create. This is the fifth year the commercialization class has been open to all students from any college in the Texas Tech System; students interested should talk with their advisor.


Rawls College of Business

The Rawls College of Business accounts for about 25 percent of Texas Tech graduates.

The college has a full-time teaching staff of roughly 100 in seven academic areas: accounting; energy, economics and law; finance; health organization management; information systems and quantitative sciences; management; and marketing.

The college offers an accredited weekend MBA for Working Professionals program.

Dedicated to connecting students, alumni and employers, the Career Management Center assists Rawls College students with their transition to the world-of-work, and supplies prospective employers with top-notch candidates, ready to make an immediate contribution.

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