Posted on November 12, 2020 by Wendy Frost

Hoping to expand their entrepreneurial mindset, two UTSA business honors students participated in and placed at two Techstars Startup Weekend events held virtually last month.

Reem Youssef Reem Youssef, a junior management major, attended the event hosted at Temple University in Philadelphia. Oliver Ortiz, a junior majoring in finance, competed in the event at the University at Buffalo in New York.

The structured 54-hour event provides students with an introductory entrepreneurship experience. On Friday night the participants met, pitched their ideas and formed teams. Over the course of the next two days students interacted with mentors, developed a business plan for their company and presented before a panel.

“I want to be an entrepreneur in the future,” said Youssef, who is originally from Cairo. “The college’s Business Honors Program encouraged us to participate in this event. They are always sharing opportunities with us.”

Utilizing knowledge she learned from an entrepreneurship class she is taking with faculty member Kathryn Keeton, Youssef’s team won second place in the competition. Their company concept, PROche, connects car owners with local mechanics with just a click of a button in order to find reliable and affordable car repairs.

“I’m really glad that I participated,” said Youssef. “I gained a lot from the experience, and it reinforced what I learned in the classroom.”

Oliver Ortiz Ortiz’ interest in entrepreneurship began while he was in college in Mexico. After transferring to UTSA, he joined the college’s Business Honors Program to gain exposure to events such as these.

His team developed Yum Yum, an app that tracks food inventory to prevent spoilage. Ortiz’ team found that 40 percent of food was being wasted by businesses. The app would allow businesses to track their inventory and offer discounts to consumers before their products expire. His team placed third in the competition, and they plan to continue working on the concept. They will compete this weekend for the Blackstone & Techstars Launchpad Impact Prize at Syracuse University.

“I learned a lot about my teammates, myself and how the real world works,” said Ortiz. “It is not about what you did during the weekend, but what you do after this experience.”

Both students credit the experience with immersing them in the entrepreneurial process, connecting them with like-minded peers and encouraging them to pursue their own entrepreneurial ventures.

“Don’t be scared to get out of your comfort zone,” said Ortiz. “I want to encourage more students to participate in these types of activities and to chase their dreams.”

— Wendy Frost