Student Spotlight: Lucious McDaniel IV

Lucious McDaniel IV Headshot

Lucious McDaniel IV

 

Name: Lucious McDaniel IV

Class: Sophomore

Major: MIS/CBHP

Position: Founder, CEO of Phly

Topics of Interest: Technology, Business, Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy

 

The guy behind Phly

Lucious McDaniel IV took it upon himself to hone in on an idea and build it from the ground up. He and his team, composed of Electrical and Computer Engineering students Tara Kuruvilla and Grace Anconetani, have been working on this startup, Phly, for quite some time. When we first heard about the startup, we were unaware of how much the platform had to offer and the functionality it would bring to organizations to help them raise money. Lucious’s ambition matches up to his talent and intelligence, bringing him to where he is today – the start of something groundbreaking. 

Pronounced like the word “fly”, Phly comes from shortening the phrase Lucious coined, “philanthropy on the fly.” Lucious was motivated to create Phly so students and organizations on campus could be more philanthropic. The platform makes the fundraising process more efficient and painless for all parties involved. 

Lucious McDaniel IV and his Phly team at Capital Factory

Lucious McDaniel IV and his Phly team posing for a photo at Capital Factory.

 

The idea that took flight 

Lucious explained that his team came up with the idea out of necessity, “We realized that as student organization leaders ourselves – myself and my whole team included – that one of the most tedious parts of our roles as finance chairs and leaders of organizations is trying to manage the on-campus aspect of things.” 

After dealing with a variety of hodge-podge excel sheets and various documents with contesting formats, it was evident that there was a need for something better. The Phly team then created a solution that would work for their student organizations. 

Once we realized it was working for these [student] orgs that we are in, we said, “why not roll it out to the rest of the students at UT?” 

The Phly team had a mission to make student fundraising easy for everyone across the country, but before they could do that, their goal was to help their peers here on the Forty Acres! 

You have to run before you can Phly 

One of the major problems Phly was designed to solve was cutting out the need to use personal Venmo and PayPal accounts to collect donations. When organizations use personal payment accounts to, for example, collect money for baked goods they are selling on Speedway, donations and personal payments quickly get muddled. Before long, student organization leaders have a big problem on their hands which is only made worse by piles of spreadsheets. By eliminating that process, organizations can keep better track of money that is being exchanged. 

The Phly team knew integrating Venmo in their platform was going to make them very useful for student orgs, but it was tough.

The first two times we went to Venmo to get approved for our integration, they said “No”. After I kept being extremely persistent and going after them, talking to them, and trying to improve our product, they eventually said “Yes”.

Today, Phly has one of the few coveted partnerships that Venmo doles out to external organizations, allowing them to integrate the popular app into their platform.

Lucious McDaniel and the Phly team working

Lucious McDaniel IV and the Phly team working with the Austin Skyline in the background.

 

Ready for takeoff! 

Due to Lucious’ uncanny ability to find a problem that needs a solution, Phly was born and then fully developed by going above and beyond to develop that solution. Asked about his interests and what he feels his career trajectory is, Lucious shared, 

“…my end goal right now is either to be a startup founder myself or to work for another startup in a product-centered role.” 

Lucious spent quality time in San Francisco this past summer as an intern for Flo Recruit, a startup launched out of UT, which was participating in Y Combinator – the world’s best accelerator program. Going forward, Lucious plans on using his degree in Canfield BHP, MIS to either continue building his own company or work in product at a fast-growing startup.

“Early on, [Interning at Y Combinator] solidified my love for working at scrappy startups but it also solidified my interest and passion for sales, marketing, and especially product”

Parting Advice 

Lucious advises that anyone looking for a place in the Canfield Business Honors Program or wanting to get involved with startups should explore business-related organizations in high school like DECA. Being involved in organizations played a key role in building connections and long-lasting friendships. 

If you’re interested in learning more and run a student organization, signup at www.Phly.co and start fundraising the right way today by creating your first campaign with Phly. Lucious is also happy to make each of these lines of communication open for either academic or Phly related matters:

P: 832-341-7603

E: lucious4@utexas.edu

Professor Spotlight: Dr. Robert Prentice (LEB 323H)

After teaching at The University of Texas at Austin for over 40 years, Dr. Robert Prentice continues to enjoy his work. From teaching classes on ethics to leading UT departments, Dr. Prentice has a host of experience and knowledge to share with Canfield Business Honors Students. 

Dr. Prentice came to UT to take on a teaching job, but has embarked on much more since then. Currently, he is the Chair of the Business, Government, and Society department, Faculty Director of Ethics Unwrapped (an ethics educational video project), and former Faculty Director of the Canfield Business Honors Program. Throughout all of his endeavors, Dr. Prentice strives to facilitate the long-term happiness of UT and Canfield BHP students. 

“The more ethically you’ve acted, the more you can look back on your life and be able to credibly tell yourself, ‘I made a difference. I helped people, I made the world a better place,’” Dr. Prentice said. “That (reflection) is going to be the most important thing in terms of individual happiness, so that’s something I try to stress to my students.”

With the pressures of college, internships, and everything else going on in the lives of students, Dr. Prentice works to keep students on track where both education and moral standards are concerned. He said even the best students struggle with being the people they want to be throughout their lives, so he works to ensure they aren’t blindsided by the real world once they leave life at UT.  

“It’s hard to be as good a person as you want to be every day. I think it’s true of my business honors students who I’ve taught over time, they’re great kids. They were raised right, they’ve got good families, they’ve got the right values, (and) they want to be good people,” he said.
“But I think oftentimes they kind of get ambushed. They don’t realize how hard it is day to day out in the real world to be the kind of person you want to be, to live up to your own standards every single day. So those are the types of things I try to focus on and help them with.”

Dr. Prentice says he especially loves working with Canfield BHP students. For LEB 323H classes, he includes more rigorous content, more writing assignments, and a capstone project at the end of the semester. 

“If I were to name my favorite 20 classes that I’ve taught in my 40 years here, they’d all be (Canfield) BHP classes,” he said. “I’m a little more aggressive in what I cover, what I assume they can pick up on their own, and in the assignments I give them. I (also) give them a big Supreme court project, which is a fairly major undertaking where I divide the students into teams and they write briefs on a real Supreme court case.”

Throughout the time Dr. Prentice has been at UT, he said Canfield BHP students continue to impress him in both his classes and in the honors program overall. He said what stands out most is the confidence and speaking ability he sees in students. 

“You can put a (Canfield BHP student) up in front of a crowd and they will distinguish themselves. They will impress the crowd. That’s true of pretty much every (Canfield) Business Honors student,” he said. “The alumnus and the parents and whoever it happens to be (in the crowd) will come away saying, ‘You are so lucky to be able to teach students like that.’ And I agree. I am very lucky to be able to teach students like that.”

Student Spotlight: Martha Czernuszenko and her experience at Forbes Under 30 Summit

Martha Czernuszenko Headshot

Martha Czernuszenko


Today we feature a student who displays all the characteristics of a mover and a shaker. Well on her way to be one of tomorrow’s leaders and now a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, Canfield BHPeer Martha Czernuszenko talks to us about her experience at the Forbes Under 30 Summit last October in Detroit. The Forbes Under 30 Scholars Program joins the best young leaders, founders, and creators to connect, learn, teach and build – a life-changing professional experience for any student selected to attend and participate.

 

Read on to learn about her experience and how to apply.

Tell us about your experience, the events that led up to it and after. Did you learn anything from it? What can others do to strive towards this opportunity?

If you’ve had a class with me, chances are you’ve seen me lugging a suitcase into the room. The McCombs School of Business is filled with amazing opportunities such as Texas Convergent (UT’s first Business and Computer Science organization) and a case-based/project curriculum. However, I’ve always wondered how various concepts I’ve learned at The University of Texas could be applied outside of the Forty Acres, and that led me to apply to the Forbes 30 Under 30 program.

Martha posing for a photo with her colleaguesI applied in Summer 2019 through an online application. A month later, I was accepted. Although the scholar program covered some expenses, this trip would not have been possible without the Canfield Business Honors Program sponsoring the rest of my trip. 

While I expected the conference to be very corporate and standardized, it turned out to be more of a “Choose your own adventure!” experience. There were various content tracks to select from AgTech, Artificial Intelligence, Art & Style, Cannabis Capitalism, Cloud & CyberSecurity, CMO Next, Finance & Investing, Fintech & Blockchain, Food & Drink, Gaming, Impact, Innovation, Law & Policy, Manufacturing & Robotics, Media & Environment, Mobility, Retail, Science & Healthcare, Sports, Founders’ Forum, and Women & Wellness. There were also plenty of activities outside of the conference talks such as company experiences, food festivals, investor speed-pitching, self-driving car showcases. 

Some highlights:

  • Serena Williams telling me to never share my money with any man (opting for separate accounts versus joint accounts during a marriage)
  • Reuniting with a few of my coworkers and other conference friends 
  • Meeting so many people across the United States
  • Learning about Olivia Munn’s investing strategies and later meeting her at the food festival
  • Hearing from the founders of products I’ve used (Postmates, Squarespace, etc.)
  • Listening to founders of iconic brands such as Postmates, Squarespace, and Museum of Ice Cream – YES Maryellis Bunn!!!)
  • Meeting Detroit locals and entrepreneurs at the official bar crawl with Nicole (Plan II, Business Honors, and Management’20) and Pooja (Bioengineering’20)
  • Exploring Startup Simulation Fair and talking with founders from Braxley Bands to VX Tours in Nepal
  • Accidently venturing into a VIP lounge and eating very fancy chocolate with Pooja and Luca (Electrical Engineering ‘20)
  • Exploring the city and its rooftops
  • Analyzing pitches from top startups pitching for thousands of dollars
  • Enjoying a free concert by Normani, 21 Savage, and The Chainsmokers 
  • The autumn leaves that changed colors daily on our walk to the conference
  • Trying out fig tarts at a local bakery after a food keynote speech with Antoni Porowski

Photo of panel at Forbes Under 30 Summit via Martha CzernuszenkoWhile I learned many lessons and heard inspirational advice, two things stood out. First, the concept that changing minds is a lot harder than building technology. Although my studies are combined between technical and soft classes, I found this concept intriguing as it is often skimmed over. Second, develop non-negotiables while you raise money – if your morals are being broken during raising rounds, your morals aren’t working. Apply this framework in your personal and professional life as well. While I expected to mostly focus on concepts like these during the conference, it was also refreshing to take a personalized path through the conference to attend workshops on topics I have never dived into, such as sustainability and transportation.

A huge thank you again to the Canfield Business Honors Program!!! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! You can apply to attend next year’s program typically in June/July 2020!