Junior Bradley Roofner Pursues Passion for Entrepreneurship

HatTee_logoWithin two weeks of starting at UT, BHP junior, Bradley Roofner, partnered with his roommate and Computer Science junior, Logan Brown, and co-founded HatTee, a company that sells golf caps that hold tees. Three years later the duo has taken full advantage of the entrepreneurial opportunities Austin and UT have to offer, increasing sales tenfold in under a year.

Roofner and Logan started their sales on campus, “We designed and ordered our own hats online and added the tee holsters ourselves,” said Roofner. “We began selling the hats to fraternities and sororities. We sold a lot of hats pretty quickly.”

The real turning point for their company came just five short months later when they showed their product in the PGA Merchandise Show in Miami, FL, one of the top shows for equipment manufacturers and people in the golf industry to launch their products for the year. “As college students we were able to approach it very humbly,” said Roofner. “We wore suits instead of the normal khaki pants and polo. People took interest in wanting to hear about our product.” It was at the merchandise show that Roofner and Brown met a majority of their current connections, including a contact based out of Thailand who coordinates the supply chain management of the product overseas.

Their success has not come without challenges, “Everybody has more grey hair than you,” said Roofner. “Being able to communicate on the same level and have credibility has been the most difficult part with each step of the company.”  Roofner found McCombs staff to be helpful during this process. John Butler, Director of The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, reached out to Roofner and helped create the HatTee business plan. BHP marketing professor, Leigh McAlister also offered guidance, “She gave me some great advice to go after the higher clientele and not to lower our prices so we could offer a premium product,” said Roofner.

Bradley

Bradley Roofner (right) with co-founder and partner, Logan Brown. Photo credit: The Daily Texan

HatTee now works mainly with large companies, supplying promotional items for their client’s shareholders and investors. The company also sponsors various golf tournaments and charity events offering their product as giveaway gifts.

As for the future, Roofner and Logan are currently talking with potential buyers of the patent. While they have enjoyed growing their company and learned many valuable lessons along the way, Roofner would like to see the HatTee brand taken further, “We see the future of the product as one that can be most successful when it reaches the average golfer. We aren’t the best company to make that happen, we lack the brand presence and marketing force to bring the idea to the masses,” said Roofner.

They hope the right buyer could take their product the rest of the way there. Regardless of what happens to the product, it was a great learning experience for Roofner and affirmed his passion for entrepreneurship.

 

 

Students Take Fourth Place in a Non-Profit Case Consulting Competition

BHP students Robert Ma, Thomas Pigeon, Jane Tedjajuwana and Shannon Wey took fourth place at the McDonough-Hilltop Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University in Washington, DC this month. Twenty teams competed, 11 from the U.S. and nine international, in this unique non-profit case consulting competition. This year’s case centered on expanding job opportunities available to members of the National Institute for the Blind (NIB).

MCC

From left: Jane Tedjajuwana, Robert Ma, Thomas Pigeon, Shannon Wey

“The main goal of NIB is to help the blind become independent personally and financially. Our job in the case competition was to find ways for the NIB to open up job opportunities not only within the federal government, but in the private sector and in the service industries,” said Shannon Wey.

The team presented a three-pronged solution which involved starting an internship program allowing blind people to get a foot in the door with employers, building a stronger network of partner companies across the nation, and implementing a talent showcase open to companies to show what blind people are capable of with current assisted technologies.

The unique emphasis on non-profit organizations altered the way the students view not-for-profit work, “We realized all the different obstacles that are placed in front of a non-profit, be it people’s biases against the people the organization is trying to serve, to limited opportunities, to financial restrictions,” said Thomas Pigeon. “It gives you a greater appreciation for how they maximize every dollar they are given.”

“Non-profit put such a huge twist on it. I’ve done six or seven case competitions and this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most because the nature of the case made if feel more fulfilling because I felt like I was contributing to a greater cause,” said Robert Ma. The students were also able to dedicate more of their efforts in areas, which may not receive as much attention in typical business case competitions. “Because it’s a nonprofit we didn’t just focus in on revenue,” said Jane Tedjajuwana. “We didn’t look at the financial projection at all in the first round because they just wanted to hear our ideas and gage how realistic it was because ideally they wanted to be able to implement the solution.”

The team also enjoyed meeting other competitors from outside of the U.S. and hearing their global perspective on the case. “It provided a really unique experience for all of us. We appreciated how international it was. We met people from Hong Kong, Australia, Germany and Singapore,” said Robert Ma.

After taking a closer look at non-profit organizations, all of the team members said they would now definitely consider working with non-profits after college.

The trip was not all work. The group managed to find time to visit the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and made sure to make a pit stop at Georgetown Cupcake.

 

Junior Jeffrey Li Working to Make Positive Changes to Medical Research

JeffLiJeff Li was drawn to UT by the roaring school spirit, high-caliber academics and top-notch funding for research. When he started at UT he found a land of opportunity as he made the transformation from Biochemistry major in his freshman year to a double major in BHP and the Dean’s Scholar Honor’s Program in natural sciences. He also received the Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship, which is one of the most prestigious continuing student scholarships offered by UT and has also become heavily involved in research, “I’m so thankful that I chose UT because there are a lot of opportunities here that I don’t think I would’ve found elsewhere,” said Li.

Jeff LiLi has always known that he wanted to go into healthcare and research, interning at the Texas Medical Center immediately after graduating high school. Now as a junior in the BHP, Li has found a new interest in examining how healthcare and business intersect, “I want to learn more about how to take the business principles from my BHP courses and cross-apply them to make healthcare more efficient. I want to make a big contribution in this area,” said Li.

He is specifically concerned with how research funds are allocated and the extended time gap between when a medical breakthrough begins at the laboratory bench to ten plus years when it reaches the patient’s bedside. “It’s interesting to me how someone puts a quantitative value on someone’s potential research. I think business concepts and risk management can play a big part in improving this decision-making process by decreasing possible risk and subjectivity,” said Li. “Something McCombs is really good at is teaching us how to make the best choices with a limited amount of information and that’s something I want to continue to learn here and apply to interdisciplinary healthcare and science fields.”

As for the time gap in the research process, Li would like to find improvements to promote efficiency. “What I want to do is leverage education and sustainable business models to develop new therapies for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer, and create new technologies,” said Li. “And I’d like to accelerate that development – get the necessary approval, get it to the patient’s bedside and then bring the information you collect from the patient’s bedside back to the lab bench creating bi-directional communication.”

Jeff Li (front) with Learn To Be

Jeff Li (front) with Learn To Be

Shortly after beginning in the BHP, Li discovered another passion for education through Learn To Be, a non-profit organization that offers free online tutoring services to underprivileged children across the country. Li became involved with the UT chapter, started by a group of BHP students, after learning about the group’s mission. “A lot of times tutoring doesn’t make it to the areas that need it most,” said Li. “What most schools in the nation do have is a computer and internet access, which is really all we need.” Learn To Be has over 600 tutors across the nation made available to students in grades 5–12 via different pre-existing technologies.

Ultimately, Li is working towards creating a better world for generations to come, “I believe that people should not be a victim of their DNA. People should not be a victim of the zip code from where they grew up. Everyone should have the right to aspire to something,” said Li.

Jeff LiLi’s outstanding contributions on campus have not gone unnoticed. He was recently chosen as a recipient of the Texas Exes Presidential Leadership Award, which recognizes undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership within the student community at UT Austin. “It means the world to me,” said Li. “I really love that the UT community rewards students for taking a blind leap of faith to make real changes in this world, holding true to the motto, ‘What starts here changes the world,’” said Li. He also encourages his peers to find their passion and take action, “A lot of people think they’ll wait to create change until they get a job or finish graduate school, but you can make a difference right here, right now.”

Li will graduate next year and plans to continue on to medical school. His hope for the future is to work as an intermediary improving the health of others by further opening the valve between research and healthcare.

 

 

 

 

 

BHP Students Take First Place In SCI Case Competition

It is no secret that Austin, Texas is the place to be right now for anything to do with business. Entrepreneurs are flocking to get their startups off the ground, businessmen and women are migrating from the Silicon Valley to the Silicon Hills and everyone who’s anyone is talking about ATX. As businesses are growing, they’re also presented with bumps along the way, which is when consultants are able to lend a helping hand. The UT Student Consulting Initiative (SCI) is more than happy to offer their services to the booming business of Austin.

SCI hosted their Annual Fall Case Competition Saturday, November 23, which was sponsored by the BBA Alumni Excellence Foundation, EYAdvisory, OSL, Student Government and SCI alumni. The competition lasts two months and teams were tasked with assisting a local business with their needs from internal communication to marketing and more. Nine teams competed in the competition pairing with different local businesses. “We were very impressed with the results this year,” said SCI Co-Chair, Holli Wertheimer. “The students created a wide range of deliverables from marketing campaigns to inventory management tools to compensation requirements among many others.”

The winning team worked with Fair Bean Coffee on their internal communications and employee retention for a prize of $1,200. The team consisted of Jason Prideaux, BHP, Finance and Plan II ’16, David Kaplan, BHP & Corporate Finance ’16, Douglas Berkman, BHP ’16, and Catherine Anne Prideaux, BHP & Plan II ’16.

“This was a tremendous learning experience,” said Douglas Berkman, a member of the winning team. “The case competition provided me with insight on what it is like to be a consultant for a real company with real employees and a real owner.” Many of the students felt it was a good experience even for those not currently pursuing consulting, “I entered the competition for experience,” said Catherine Anne Prideaux. “I would highly recommend doing SCI even if you’re not considering consulting!” All four team members noted that their group meetings were one of their favorite parts of the competition.

If you’re interested in learning more about SCI, visit their website.

This article originally appeared on BBA News.

BHP Finance Major Creates A Mobile Application To Increase Productivity

If you’ve ever wished for an easier way to organize and manage everything you need to get done then you are in luck because there’s an app for that; Cluster. CEO of Mobylsoft LLC and BHP student, Ram Anantharaman, created this iOS application. “Cluster is a productivity tool and visual planner,” said Ram. “It provides information that a simple to-do list cannot. It tells you what you should be working on right now, which is a question I was always asking myself as a student.”

Ram came up with the idea for Cluster as he attempted to juggle the chaotic schedule of a college student. “I came up with the concept out of pure need,” said Ram. “I turned to the App Store for help and as I went through the productivity options, I realized that most of them took a lot of time to enter tasks and then didn’t offer a good picture of how to complete those tasks.”

Since high school Ram has taken an interest in writing code and taught himself to do so, “I used online resources, like the Stanford lecture series and would spend eight hours at a time reading books and doing as much as I could to get my feet wet,” said Ram. “Writing code for apps is tangible. It’s a way that I can hold my creation in my own hand. I wanted to dive into the tech world and create something I myself could use. It’s a simple and beautiful way to have a startup and not spend a lot of time and money on it.”

Ram holds a high amount of confidence in his product and offers his consumers a personal money back guarantee, “I absolutely will give the customer their money back,” said Ram. “If the consumer feels that I’ve done an inadequate job making them more productive then I think that’s a problem and I’ll do anything to fix it whether it’s adding a new feature or giving their money back.” Cluster has been in the App Store for about six weeks and has over 150 downloads. Although only available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) currently, Windows phone, Windows 8 and Mac are in the future plans.

In the future, Ram would like to shift from selling straight to the consumer to working with businesses, “I would like to create a project management app for businesses with some of the interface from Cluster,” said Ram. “I think it’s a much more sustainable way to sell and make money. Also, I’m currently taking Operations Management right now and learning about supply chain management and I think I’m well equipped to create a project management application.”

Ram is projected to graduate next year and hopes to go into consulting, “I want to work for a consulting firm to build a better client network and leverage those skills to become a better entrepreneur,” said Ram.