AUSTIN, Texas – Three members of the McCombs MBA Class of 2019, Pallavi Nair, Yukti Gangwani and Jamal Olatunde, earned first place for their online retail platform, ShaadiBox, during the Spring 2019 Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (TVLIC) held on May 10, 2019 at Robert Rowling Hall.
ShaadiBox solves a difficult problem that Indian-American brides and grooms have with sourcing the clothing and accessories necessary for an Indian wedding in the United States. ShaadiBox is executing on their mission to provide Indian-American brides and grooms an affordable, accessible and applicable way to source their wedding party needs.
“Winning TVLIC definitely provides both validation and valuable feedback for our business as we understand how best to bring this idea to life,” remarked company founder, Pallavi Nair. “We definitely did get some tough (but very fair) questions! I can’t stress enough how valuable of an experience it was to build a startup from the ground up, to develop the business plan, and then to be able to pitch it to a panel of real investors, entrepreneurs, and professionals.”
On the challenge of asking investors for funding, team member Jamal Olatunde added, “Asking for money from investors is not an easy task. Winning TVLIC boosted our confidence in talking to investors and getting them to believe in us as a team.”
Hosted by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, TVLIC is open to all graduate students at UT Austin seeking funding for new business ventures. This semester’s TVLIC had 18 startup companies in attendance from various disciplines such as business, medicine, engineering, and communications. The competition follows a shark-tank style format where companies pitch their startups to a panel of experienced venture capital investors and entrepreneurs. Each team has 30 minutes to pitch and the winners of each semifinals division move on to compete in the finals to determine the Texas champion.
In evaluating the student ventures, judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The Finals judges’ panel included Brad Bentz, ATX Seed Ventures; William Glasgow, Prime IX Investments; Craig Cummings, Moonshots Capital; Scott Plantowsky, RSR Finance and Nishi Viswanathan, Dell Medical School.
Asked how this TVLIC’s format compares to others she’s seen, winning team member Yukti Gangwani replied, “This competition is a must-do for any student interested in pursuing entrepreneurship.”
In addition to taking home first place, ShaadiBox received a cash prize of $10,000 and an opportunity to join JBTVL’s annual trip to close the Nasdaq market in New York City. The other four finalists included InMoat in second place receiving $5,000, Lambert Labs in third place receiving $4,000, ROOG in fourth place receiving $3,000, and Charitab.ly in fifth place receiving $2,000. In addition to awarding the top five teams, TVLIC also awards teams for specialized honors such as the James D. Pippin Veteran Award and the E. Craig Nemec Elevator Challenge Awards.
Amigo received the James D. Pippin Veteran Award of $1,000 given to the most promising startup in TVLIC with one or more veteran co-founders. Amigo helps B2B sales professionals quantitatively analyze their channel partners and offers actionable insights that can increase the likelihood of successful deals.
The E. Craig Nemec Elevator Challenge Award is given to the best elevator pitches delivered by TVLIC competitors. The three award recipients this semester were Locoal.life, ShaadiBox and ReVRse. Each team will receive $1,000.
For more information on the competition or to learn more about JBTVL’s programs visit tvl.utexas.edu.