Key Takeaways from the Texas MSTC Class of 2015

Just over a week ago, The University of Texas at Austin’s Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) Program’s Class of 2015 walked across the stage to collect their diplomas from program director, Dr. Gary Cadenhead, and Dean Tom Gilligan of The McCombs School of Business.

Whether you ask our students, our faculty members, or our program staff, there is one answer that is identical across the board: MSTC is a whirlwind. Students start classes in early May, and just one year later they’re celebrating their completion of the program to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance”.

Throughout our one-year business master’s degree program, our students learn a lot: a lot about business, a lot about innovation, a lot about each other, and–to be just a bit trite–a lot about life. With that in mind, we asked a handful of the members of the Class of 2015 to share with us their biggest takeaways from the Texas MSTC Program. We hope you enjoy their advice as much as we do!

MikeTulkoff“It is hard to believe that one year ago, I was waking up on a Sunday morning after launch week and thinking about how much there was to do. Now I’m up on Sunday morning thinking about how much we all have done. The best part of this program is all of the interaction between the students as well as between students and the fantastic faculty. I have learned a lot from all of them both inside and outside of class.

My key takeaways from the program are; recognize a market pain, figure out how to ease it, plan, plan, plan, and be persuasive. Throughout this year we have learned quite a few processes, tools, and frameworks that will suit us well going forward.”

-Mike Tulkoff, Independent Technology Consultant


“The MSTC program was tailored directly to my interests and within the team structure, we were able to hone those interests even further. I am now leagues more confident in my business knowledge and can speak about concepts both abstractly and tangibly with confidence. With the curriculum, classmates, faculty and the McCombs brand behind me, new opportunities have presented themselves, and I have been equipped to take advantage of them. Now I have a new job fusing technologies together to help other companies see their innovations to fruition in the market, and it is incredibly fulfilling. I think I appreciated my degree a thousand times more after talking through a product manufacturing flow a client on my first day at work and likewise as I help formulate the stories we will tell to market to prospective clients. It was a marathon of a year, but I am so glad I did it.”

-Karyl Fowler, Business Development Specialist, Novati Technologies


Jonathan Cartmill
“Reflecting on how I have changed over the past year, I recognize my presentation, oral and written communication skills have dramatically improved. I am a very outgoing individual and have no fear of public speaking but this program definitely expanded on my communication skills. I also notice I approach problems much differently than before. I have learned how to ask the right questions and how to think about challenges in ways that will help drive a positive outcome. The best part of the program, however, has been my classmates because they come from many walks of life and have different professional experiences that truly enriched my MSTC experience.”

-Jonathan Cartmill, Technical Sales Representative, National Instruments


RainyaMosher-HeadShot-BlackAndWhite“I did accomplish what I set out to do and have successfully transitioned from Engineering Management to Product Management. This program certainly helped me reposition my personal brand and make the transition far more easily than it otherwise would have been. The conversations I am able to have today regarding markets, pricing, and general “the idea is great, but will anyone pay for it?” (with accuracy, gusto, and confidence) would not have been possible a year ago. The network of my fellow MSTC Class of 2015 is the real gem, of course! I am thankful to have grown my network by 70 or so amazing people.”

-Rainya Mosher, Product Manager, Rackspace


Britt2“The Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program was a significant game-changer for me. I retired out of the Navy with a solid grounding in risk assessment, operations, and execution – both at the tactical and strategic level – but quickly realized I did not have the vocabulary and foundation that my civilian counterparts had regarding how the corporate side functions. The MSTC program was a perfect bridge to creating that foundation. The conversations, questions, and concepts that I partake in today would absolutely not have been possible without the focused, rigorous curriculum that The University of Texas McCombs School of Business assembled in the MSTC program. It is hard to believe the difference between how I approach problems now and how I approached problems on day #1 of the program.” 

-Britt Talbert, Senior Program Manager, GM


If you’re interested in learning more about the Texas MSTC Program, we invite you to explore our website and visit a class. We hope to see you on campus soon. Hook ’em!

Dare Greatly to Change the World for the Better

IMG_0232The following post is written by Texas MSTC Class of 2015 graduate, Rainya Mosher. You can find this original post and more by Rainya on her blog

On 23 May 2015, myself and 65 other members of the cohort graduated from UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business with a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization. This one year Master’s program focuses on giving students the skills needed to take an idea, invention, or discovery through the immense amount of work needed to create and sustain a business. As my classmate Jonathan Cartmill said in his speech for the Teacher of the Year Award (given this year to Dr. Kate Mackie):

Just because you can detect salmonella doesn’t mean the chicken companies are going to pay you for it.

Tech commercialization is futuristic thinking grounded in the reality of the present. While brilliant thinkers, scientists, and engineers invent wonderful things every day, a commercialization expert ensures the invention connects to the real world in a meaningful way. This usually entails doing exhaustive research to find the group of someones who will pay to use the invention, and once these someones are identified, determining how much are they wiling to pay. It is a wonderful melange of business and science, finance and technology. Quite simply, it was the perfect degree for me!

Brett Hurt gave our commencement address with a message as timely and pointed as I could have asked for. A former entrepreneur-in-residence at McCombs, Brett is the founder of several successful startups and owns Hurt Family Investments. Below are my key takeaways from his brief but impacting speech.

On Tech Commercialization

There are many shortages in the world – food, water, energy, medicine among them. I challenge you to solve the world’s greatest challenges through technology commercialization. We are in the most amazing time in the history of the world for technology commercialization. The Internet and all its derivatives are being professionalized, making this period quite different from the dot com boom and bust of the ’90s.

On Books to Read

Watch less news. Read good books instead. Infinitely more thought has been put into them. This is where wisdom can be found. Specific books to inspire the dreamer in us all include: Abundance by Diamandis & Kotler; The Second Machine Age by Brynjolfsson & McAfee; and Man’s Search for Meaning by Frankl.

On Successful Entrepreneurship

The skills needed to to move from invention to a viable commercial product and finally to a prosperous business is what the MSTC program provides its graduates. Brett provided a reminder that some of the most important elements for success go beyond market validation and consolidated financial statements.

Live within your means

You’ll always feel rich (and be able to pursue your dreams) if you live within your means

Take time away from work

Take vacation time, even in the earliest stages of a startup, and use the time for deep reflection. Prioritizing time away to reflect on what you’ve learned and where you’re going. Some of the most important decisions affecting the direction of a company are frequently made while on vacation. If you don’t take the time to reflect, life and companies have a habit of running away with you.

Don’t forget your family

You’ll always feel stressed in some ways. There will be always be excuses on why you’re too busy to spend time iwth family. Don’t be that person who, on their death bed, regrets missing their children’s best years or wished they spent more time with their parents or partners. No matter how intense a business gets, time with family is truly just another choice you must make. Choose wisely.

Nourish your soul

If you lose your passion for a cause, stop pursuing it and find something else to ingnite the spark. Take a second look should you find yourself accepting a job solely on the basis of money or title. If you find you aren’t giving back either through your community or company, find ways to do so. Companies have souls that need to be nourished as well as people.

Take care of you

More important than all the other things is your health. Without health, nothing else is possible. You can’t enjoy the money your have earned or the time you spend with your family. The inner journey and maintaining health is as important as the outer journey and achieving success.

The Man in the Arena

Brett ended his speech with the famous “Man in the Arena” quote, taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 Citizenship in a Republic speech. This is perhaps my favorite quote of all time and fills me with strength in even the most difficult times:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

So now, MSTC Class of 2015, with hoods, diplomas, and a hearty UT hook ‘em, we leave behind our classrooms for an arena full of possibility. There, we will dare greatly to change the world for the better. Of course, a healthy dose of profit alongside our world changing ventures won’t hurt, either!


The full text of the speech is now available at

MSTC Alumni Company ENTvantage Dx Makes Austin’s A-List

ENTvantageThe Austin Chamber of Commerce recently announced its 2015 Austin A-List, naming MSTC alumni company ENTvantage DX as one of the 12 most promising ventures in Austin.

ENTvantage DX, one of four winners in the A-List’s Emerging category, is led by President and CEO, Joe Skraba, member of the Texas MSTC Class of 2003. ENTvantage is a medical diagnostics company that provides primary care and ENT physicians with timely information on the cause of ear, nose, and throat illnesses with rapid, in-office diagnostic tests.

Chaired by the Austin Chamber’s Innovate Austin initiative and SXSW Interactive, the Austin A-List received over 275 nominations for this year’s list. Click here to read the full list of winners.

MSTC Alumni Company, Seismos, Completes Series A

Congrats to MSTC alumni company, Seismos, on completing its Series A round of funding, raising $4M in financing!

Seismos, founded by MSTC 2013 alumni Panos Adamopoulos, provides subsurface fluid flow monitoring for oil and gas production.

While in the MSTC Program, Adamopoulos and his teammates won the 2013 TVL Global Investment Competition.

Please join us in sending a congratulatory “Hook ’em” to the entire Seismos team!

Seismos at the 2013 TVL Global Investment Competition

Seismos at the 2013 TVL Global Investment Competition

150 Patents Later, What One Female Inventor Learned About Innovation

Originally posted on Forbes by Lisa Seacat DeLuca

Software engineer. Inventor. Mother of toddler twins. Nerd puller of late night coding jags. And, at 32, the most prolific female inventor at IBM with more than 150 patents in areas such as mobile, data, and cloud, to my name.

I’m one of the faces of innovation at IBM. One of my patents is U.S. Patent #8,694,777: Securely identifying host systems, which enables more secure identity control in cloud computing environments.

The patent was among 7,534 patents filed by IBM last year, making it the first company to exceed 7,000 patents in one year and marking the company’s 22nd consecutive year as worldwide patent leader.

Patents are key to my company’s strategy, not just because they’re proof of unique ideas, but because they’re the platform for the future inventions that drive the success of our clients, business and industry. Because none of us work alone. Innovation comes from the spark of an idea. Yet, we all build on top of the innovations that other tinkerers before us have come up with.

As I said in my TED@IBM talk last fall, “The speed of invention in the future will be as fast as we can dream up ideas. We’ll be able to use each other’s innovations to test drive ideas and find inspiration to keep solving everyday problems.”

Which is why we’re all encouraged at my company to become inventors and why there is such a buzz around creativity.

As a 22-year-old new hire at a large multinational company, I was definitely intimidated when it came to getting started. But the excitement of becoming an innovator, and the contagious feeling I got from my colleagues that I could do just that quickly turned me into one. I was hooked. There’s not a better feeling than coming up with creative solutions to real problems that other people find valuable.

And in fact, all of us can experience that feeling these days. With open source, crowd funding, and easy-to-use apps for developing software and electronic gadgets, we’re seeing a massive leveling of the playing field when it comes to innovation. Staying curious, supporting other makers, and taking a risk on our ideas will make those napkin ideas a reality. I encourage everyone to share their ideas with the world.
I’m an inventor, a brainstormer, a tinkerer. And I’m proud to be part of one of, if not the, most innovative companies in the world. The creativity of my colleagues inspires me everyday. And the wave of inventiveness online sparks my imagination. More innovation will help all of us have more productive, more fulfilled lives. And it’s just plain fun.

Watch Lisa Seacat DeLuca’s TED@IBM video.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is an IBM Master Inventor and Mobile Software Engineer and member of the Texas MSTC Class of 2010

UT Austin Fuses the MBA with a Master’s in Technology

Originally published on TechCocktail by Will Schmidt 

Lisa Deluca, an Omni-Channel Technology Strategist and Master Inventor at IBM, first heard about an interesting program at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) through her colleagues at work. As one who was trying to decide between pursuing an MBA or a Master’s in Technology, DeLuca was delighted to hear that The Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) fused these two worlds tougher.

UTUT Austin has, in effect, built their MSTC program to combine business, technology, and innovation into a one year program at The McCombs School of Business. Specifically, it focuses on preparing participants for the intersection of these worlds in their future careers.

Students like DeLuca meet on alternating weekends, either in person or telecommute in video software like Skype, to learn the business skills needed to compete in a global economy while continuing their full time jobs. Fusing entrepreneurship with education, the MSTC Program’s main aim is to help their students create innovative ventures and products.

“This program is like an MBA for more technical people,” says DeLuca. “It’s helped me in my day job to understand the market I inhabit. In my day to day I’m normally a developer, so I do coding and am not always exposed to the business side of things. Now I know why we make the decisions we do.”

Officially launched in 1996, the MSTC program has remained committed to the idea of getting a relevant degree into the hands of their students for 18 years at this point. The hope is that these students, in turn, might one day drive innovation on their own terms.

Students are taught how to identify and evaluate technologies with market potential, develop and present business plans, and profitably launch innovative products into the market. On average 80 students are accepted every year, with 50 percent coming from entrepreneurial backgrounds, 40 percent are corporate innovators, and 10 percent inhabit the tech commercialization space.

As a remote student out of San Francisco, DeLuca would join the class every other weekend with about 20 percent of the other students, who were also remote. It was just like a real classroom where she had to be on time and participate, lest her grade suffer.

Despite telecommuting, she was still able to tap into the best parts of the program, one of which, according to DeLuca, was that she could find the right people to ask her questions to. Traditionally, that’s a tough thing to do, but when DeLuca got access to an entire network of mentors and faculty through the MSTC program, the problem was all but diminished.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s a huge time commitment, but you learn a ton,” says DeLuca. “I got to spend time with some of the best professors I’ve ever known, and the time absolutely flew by.”

Of the class participants that graduate in May 2014 there have been 14 ventures launched. Two graduates even went on to be in the Texas Venture Labs incubator, based at UT Austin, and another graduate founded Beyonic to bring mobile payments to Africa.

Sure, there’s homework and you have to be engaged during class time, but as DeLuca says this is a unique experience you can’t get from other university programs. You’ll get to interact with different people, hear different stories, and embed yourself into the lives of people you might never have otherwise met.

“In life, it’s crucial to understand why things are more important than others and why a problem might be interesting to you over your colleagues,” says DeLuca. “The MSTC program gives you a different approach to looking at entrepreneurial life.”

Applications are currently open for the program, but they’re close on February 18, 2015. So, if you’re anything like DeLuca and you’re considering an MBA, a Master’s in Technoloyg, or anything similar, you might want to consider getting on board with the MSTC program.

Winning Weekend for MSTC


MSTC teams Flipped Health and DraftCrunch at the TVLIC

It was quite the winning weekend for the Texas MSTC Program! Our students took home victories in not one but TWO business plan competitions, as well as one second place finish.

Last week 20 teams in five divisions competed in the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, including 10 from UT’s MBA programs, six from MSTC, and four from PhD programs. Three MSTC teams were selected to move on to the final round of five teams, with MSTC team Flipped Health taking home the first place win and MSTC team DraftCrunch clutching the runner up position.


MSTC team Colter Durham at the Georgia Bowl Business Plan Competition

Flipped Health will represent The University of Texas at Austin in the Global VLIC in May, incubate at ATI for a year, and receive $5,000. DraftCrunch will receive $3,000 to invest in their venture.

The celebrations don’t stop there! Texas MSTC team Colter Durham claimed a first place victory at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Georgia Bowl Business Plan Competition. They’ll be carrying their $10,000 prize home in their ingenious Stow Cart, and will be joining MSTC team Flipped Health in the 2015 Global VLIC.

Congratulations to all of the Texas MSTC teams that competed this weekend. We’re glowing with pride. Hook ’em!

Innovators. Doers. Rappers.

The Texas MSTC students learn about technology commercialization in many innovative ways thanks to the top-ranked faculty members here at The McCombs School of Business. Now, thanks to MSTC ’15 student Albert Hughes, our students have one more method: rap music.

We are pleased to debut the world’s first ever technology commercialization rap video, titled Get Money, written by our very own Albert Hughes. Enjoy!

Get Money from Albert Hughes on Vimeo.

Four Tips for Start-up Businesses Seeking Private Equity

Originally posted on McCombs Today by Samantha Grasso

Austin skyline (Credit Flickr user: byeagle)

In a rich startup hub like Austin, young entrepreneurs are constantly looking for strategies to logistically shape their company to the competitive business world, and also make their product stand out to consumers. Alan Cline, principal for Vista Equity Partners, echoed this notion when he spoke on how his private equity firm selects their investments.

“The strategy is…find a business that fits our criteria, which is mission critical enterprise, software data, and technology enabled services. Find it with a very strong value proposition that is different from your competitors,” Cline said.

On Oct. 7, Cline was joined by Bill Wood, founder of the venture capital firm Silverton Partners, for the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship speaker series. Moderated by the center’s Laura Kilcrease and co-sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the presentation focused on Wood and Cline’s experiences in the industry. Together, they divulged advice on catching the attention of a venture capital or private equity firm.

  1. Be mindful of size, metrics, and the market  
    When considering a company for venture capital investment, Wood said the first thing he looks at is the company’s market, how their product fits in the market, and initial metrics of the company. Among those details, Wood said he questions if the market is interesting in size, growth rate, and competitive structure, if the product is innovative or proprietary, and what the company’s competitive positioning is like.”Even though [the data] is embryonic and early, we want to see the right things in terms of traffic, emergence, customer acquisition cost, long term value,…[and] monthly growth rate,” Wood said. “We’re kind of looking for indications that, ‘Hey, this is an interesting business.'”
  2. It’s all about “machine-based decision-making”According to Wood, taking advantage of available data can help entrepreneurs make stronger company decisions. If the data doesn’t exist, then develop a method to obtain it. Wood said that under this type of decision-making, marketing for startups is no longer strategized through guessing and estimations, but based on A/B testing.

    “Broadly speaking, I don’t care what you do in your life: Decision-making is dramatically changing, and if it isn’t, you’re behind. You can increasingly make better decisions based on data…If you don’t have the data, you create it,” Wood said. “We’re moving into a phase of machine-based decision-making, and it’s incredibly powerful.”

  3. Take advantage of modern business modelsBusiness models have become more important, real, and predictable. Wood said while business models used to be “people folding out assumptions,” models can now be built mathematically, and tested for reliability.

    “You can look at every assumption, you can test every assumption, and you can know pretty quickly whether you’re on track or not, and then you can start correcting,” Wood said. “They tell you, ‘Will it work?’…’Is it working?’ ‘How do I need to tweak and turn things to make it work?'”

  4. The culture of private equity funding is changingJust because a business is being sold from one equity firm to another, it doesn’t mean the business is failing. Cline said this previous notion has evolved over the last seven years, and he now knows a change of firms happens more often because the fund lifecycle has ended, or the vision of the next firm better fits the company at that point in time.

    “When we’re kind of passing the baton from one firm to another, those are the real great winning situations, because we get involved at a stage where we see opportunity…We take it as far as it makes sense for us to be involved, and then someone else says, ‘Hey, great asset, I love what you’ve done with it, now we’re going to take it global,'” Cline said.

Two MSTC Companies Accepted to TVL Accelerator


Texas MSTC team, RainSeed, after being selected for the Wells Fargo Clean Energy Challenge at the 2014 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition.

Texas MSTC team, RainSeed, after being selected for the Wells Fargo Clean Energy Challenge at the 2014 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition.

Two companies formed by graduates of Texas MSTC Class of 2014 have been accepted into the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) Accelerator for the fall semester. Designed to help startups raise capital and bring their products to market, the TVL Accelerator will allow the founders of both Hrvst and RainSeed to focus on the companies they developed during the Texas MSTC Program.

“My founder and I had Dr. Adams for a professor in our UT MSTC program and saw first hand what other companies could accomplish through TVL. We both knew if we went forward with Hrvst as a company the resources and network TVL could provide us would be extremely valuable as a new young company,” said Jason St. Peter, co-founder of Hrvst, a data-driven investment portfolio management tool.

“RainSeed’s acceptance into the TVL Accelerator allows us to continue to leverage the university’s resources after the Texas MSTC Program, as well as the expertise of Rob Adams and the TVL team. This gives us the opportunity to build our business and grow more effectively than we could do on our own, something that is invaluable at our current early stage,” explained RainSeed CEO and MSTC alumni, Jim Nelson.

RainSeed is a technology platform that allows water utilities to connect to their end-users to more effectively manage water resource use. While in the Texas MSTC Program, RainSeed won the 2014 Nebraska Innovation Competition and went on to make it to the second round of the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition. 

Hrvst is an Austin -based technology company developing an online platform to help investors better understand their overall portfolio while guiding them to better long-term investment decisions.

The TVL Accelerator accepts 14 companies each fall and spring semester. Participating companies receive 200+ hours of student time, a chance to present at the Venture Expo, and access to the TVL Alumni Network. TVL has worked with over 63 startups that have raised over $187 million.