Students present entrepreneurial ideas in competition

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UT entrepreneurs, students and faculty members gathered Wednesday to showcase new companies for the 28th annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition.

About 16 student-run companies presented their entrepreneurial ideas and platforms in front of the Austin Technology Incubator, an investment firm that provides funding and support for new companies. Most of the platforms introduced new software and technology for education and science fields.

Ann Whitt, spokeswoman for McCombs School of Business, said UT students ready to venture into the business world participate in the program.

“They are hoping that there are some investors in the audience that may want to invest in what they are doing,” Whitt said.

One company that presented Wednesday was Hoot.me, a Facebook application that helps students engage in collaborative study. Finance and business honors junior Michael Koetting co-founded the company.

After installing the Hoot application on Facebook, students can see what other people in their networks are studying, Koetting said. The program allows students to search for friends studying any academic subject, such as calculus or psychology, he said.

“You can click on [their username] and we will take you into a study session inside Facebook where you can video conference or chat with them or even share your screen,” Koetting said.

He said Hoot.me launched last February, and the program currently has 368 users from all over the country.

Another company, NanoLite Systems, is working on creating technology that will make breast cancer surgery more efficient by replacing large instruments with smaller, cheaper and more feasible tools such as microscopes.

NanoLite CEO Ting Shen said the company originated at UT, and it continues to develop more ideas in collaboration with the University and medical centers in Austin.

“By doing this, we can reduce the patient’s ordeal of multi-surgeries,” Shen said.

Michael Akilian, an electrical engineering and computer science senior, said these programs help new companies get to the next level in terms of expansion and funding opportunities.

Akilian works for a company in San Francisco that recruits and funds new companies with potential for success.

Two UT companies are participating in the main investment competition this weekend, and 38 more from 12 different countries will also compete. The UT companies are ClearBrook Imaging, a company that develops medical technology, and Vocal Media, which develops advertisements to be inserted in international phone calls for immigrant populations.

Whitt said the actual competition starts on Saturday, and a global investment award winner will be announced that night. The winner will receive $135,000 in funding.