HBA Hosts Inaugural Start-up Field Trip

Written by Ana Aiken, BHP Junior


This month, the Honors Business Association (HBA) hosted its inaugural start-up field trip, providing students with a first-hand look into the exciting world of entrepreneurship. Spearheaded by BHP junior Jiaying Han, the trip consisted of visits to three Austin-based companies: Civitas Learning, Red Velvet Events, and Aceable, all of which are under the leadership of trailblazing BHP alumni. Each visit was an opportunity for students to be exposed to the operational structure of a start-up and interact with company founders on a personal level.

startup-trip-2016-civitasAt Civitas Learning, students met with Michael Koetting (BHP/MIS ’13), who serves as the company’s Director of Corporate & Business Development. An entrepreneur to the core, Michael co-founded Hoot.me while on the Forty Acres. His zeal is just as evident in his work for Civitas, which offers an analytics platform that makes data-driven recommendations to organizations on how to increase college graduation rates. The passion with which Michael described his work was deeply moving, and it was clear that his team could not be more motivated by the ultimate cause behind their business.

startup-trip-2016-red-velvetCindy Lo (BHP/MIS ’98), founder and CEO of Red Velvet Events, an internationally renowned events management company, exuded a contagious sense of passion about her work as well. Students were not only delighted by her humorous anecdotes, but they also got the chance to ask her a number of questions over lunch. Among the most notable lessons she shared was the importance of adaptability in business (a quality that helped her successfully organize a last-minute concert for Lionel Richie, for example.) Her self-made success was certainly awe-inspiring.

Aceable, which offers the first-ever mobile app for driver’s education, was the third stop of the action-packed day. There, students met with Travis Devitt (BHP/FIN ’06), the company’s Director of Growth. Travis brought in different members of the team—including the founder himself—to share insights gleaned from years of work in entrepreneurship. The team’s words of advice emphasized the fact that the position in which college students find themselves is an enviable one, and that they should therefore work to ensure they are making the most of the vast amount of resources available to them.

Beyond receiving office tours and free goodies, students left with a richer picture of what a career in entrepreneurship is like. The lauded event is surely one that will become an HBA tradition.

Sophomores Tasked with Marketing City of Austin Smart City Initiatives in Case Competition

Each year, all BHP sophomores compete in the BA151 Sophomore Lyceum Case Competition. The competition, held this past Friday, is the first case competition many of these students have competed in, and offers a great chance for them to practice the skills they are learning in their business classes. This year’s case, presented by Accenture, revolved around identifying ways to engage all Austin citizens in upcoming infrastructure improvements to the City of Austin. The case focused on the plans, which were recently approved by Travis County voters, to improve the Riverside Corridor. Judges from the City of Austin were also on hand for the final rounds to hear the solutions students came up with.

Out of 30 teams, five advanced to the final round. Each team took a very different approach to solving the problem, and the judges were impressed with the level of thought that went into the cases. In the end, first place went to Megan Tran-Olmsted, Jeffrey Gold, Dallas Killeen and Amaan Virani. Second place went to Seth Krasne, Henry Boehm, Reed Giesinger and Mary Heck. Third place went to Elizabeth Bell, Meredith Lutzak, Ron Jones and Enzo Modesto.

The winning team’s solution focused on local community outreach and city branding. “Our team wanted to focus on the people affected by the Riverside Corridor Project. Thus, we believe that connecting with residents of East Austin through community outreach events and local leaders will be the most effective method for change,” said Megan Tran-Olmsted. “In addition, we believe the City of Austin should work to be a leader in transportation infrastructure for other cities to emulate, so we believe that creating a distinct brand for this Smart City project will most effectively convey Austin’s message.”

Accenture is currently working with the city on this project, and will be packaging recommendations from all of the cases to present to the City of Austin. The names of the winning team members will be etched onto a plaque, which lives on permanent display in the BHP office. Congratulations to all of these students and special thanks to Accenture for providing us with such a great case, and to BHP alumnus Jacob Spangler for coordinating the case on behalf of Accenture.

Dallas Killeen, Jeffrey Gold, Megan Tran-Olmsted, Aaman Virani

First Place Team: Dallas Killeen, Jeffrey Gold, Megan Tran-Olmsted, Amaan Virani



Second Place: Seth Krasne, Mary Heck, Reed Giesinger, Henry Boehm


Student Spotlight: Amberlea Tribble

amberlea_tribbleAmberlea Tribble is a sophomore majoring in BHP and Finance. She is a dedicated and accomplished equestrian, competing in hunter, jumper and equitation events.

“Every girl wants a pony, and I was able to have one,” she jokes. As a young girl she trained with her horse, but became committed to enhancing her techniques in high school as it was a  new challenge for her.  Currently, Amberlea and her horse, Prince, compete on an individual and University level with the UT equestrian team. all-that-jpg

Balancing BHP coursework and the equestrian team is challenging Amberlea admits. “I ride about twice a week and try to compete at least once every two months,” she says. She did have to cut back from high schoool, when she was riding five days a week. Amberlea also serves as a Startup Meetup Manager for the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency. UT LEA is part of UT’s Student Government. It connects UT students to resources, and provides opportunities for developing unique and innovative business ideas. She is also involved in the University Finance Association, an organization that teaches students how to invest, and introduces them to different investment opportunities.

Before graduating, Amberlea plans to travel to Europe to study abroad and learn more about their culture. She will also continue to compete over the next two years. We look forward to following her accomplishments!

BHP Students Seeing Success in Case Competitions


Jack Chang, Mustafa Neemuchwala, Rahul Gupta and Mickey Li

Teams of BHP students have been competing in case competitions and stock pitch competitions near and far. Mickey Li and Rahul Gupta won first place at the MIT Fall Intercollegiate Trading Competition in the Foreign Exchange Competition, beating teams from Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other top universities. Mickey and Rahul used skills they learned from trading internships and the Undergraduate Computational Finance student organization to beat their competition during the multiple sessions of electronic trading and floor trading.


Srija, Karna, Austin and Megan

An all-BHP team comprised of sophomores Megan Tran-Olmsted, Srija Nalla and Karna Venkatraj, and junior Austin Partridge, participated in the Michigan Undergraduate Investment Conference at the University of Michigan through the University Securities Investment Team. The team competed in a trading simulation game and a comprehensive stock pitch, taking third place.

BHP juniors Eric Saldanha and Abhishek Ramchandani traveled to the University of Arizona for the Eller Ethics Case Competition in October. The case covered the dispute between Apple and the FBI surrounding the San Bernadino case. Competitors were asked to consider ethical, legal and financial considerations of Apple’s response and make a recommendation for future disputes with the FBI. Eric and Abhishek created an ethical framework for Apple drawing from the company’s core values as well as fundamental concepts in ethics and business law. They also proposed the creation of a Privacy Oversight Committee within Apple that would review government requests and make recommendations.


Abhishek and Eric

The team did not advance to the finals, but they were happy to have competed and valued the learning opportunity. “We had never competed in an ethics case competition and it presented questions that we had never thought of before,” said Eric. “Not only did we have to think about whether Apple’s actions harmed national security, we had to evaluate whether Apple even has an obligation to protect national security in the first place. We also had to evaluate which was more egregious from and ethical perspective: harming national security interests, or harming consumer privacy rights.”


Eric, Diane, Abhishek and Travis

After returning from Arizona, Abhishek and Eric once again competed in another event, the McCombs Fall Case Competition hosted by the Undergraduate Business Council. Their team also included BHP junior Diane Sun and BBA senior Travis Monteleone. Their team, Pacific Solutions, took first place in that competition and will be going on to represent McCombs at the University of Southern California’s national case competition.

BHP is grateful to the alumni who support our program. Your generous contributions help us sponsor students to attend case competitions across the United States and even abroad.