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.
At 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.
Cindy 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.