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The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summer Program

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The IIE Summer Program

This summer, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) and The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), partnered together to create the first annual Student Startup Accelerator. Throughout the 10-week program, student accelerator teams met several times per week in efforts to launch their venture by using lean startup methodologies. These lean startup principles include shortening the product development cycle through minimizing costs and resources it takes to get the product to the customer by engaging and interacting with potential customers early on. 

Student teams also accelerated the startup process through lunch and learns, mentor office hours, weekly pitch practices and lectures. Customer-development concepts were woven into the agenda through weekly participant meetings, where students discussed their progress and milestones. Program mentors, coaches and instructors were comprised of business leaders and industry partners who helped provide context on startup-related issues, such as funding, finances, legal, marketing/sales and more.

The program concluded August 3 with a pitch day. Participating teams gave a final pitch to the 1 Million Cups Dallas audience in hopes of winning the grand prize of $2,500. Student startup team Weiser was the grand prize winner, selected by audience vote.

About the Teams

Travabond: Travabond is a travel platform for women by women. It offers users unique, fully built themed weekend packages with step-by-step daily itineraries. Travelers also have the option to hire Travabond to do the entire booking for them and to build an itinerary from scratch. It enables customers to filter and sync group interests and budgets, as well as merge everyone's availability with a calendar integration tool to create an even more personalized itinerary.

ConverseVR: Converse VR’s mission is to improve everyday life by providing educational and entertaining 360-video experiences, as well as creating applications that help people achieve their goals through the medium of virtual reality. ConverseVR wants to create the content that inspires people to adopt virtual reality in their households. The team also is focused on serving Dallas/Fort Worth-area companies that need VR content development for their employees or customers.

Weiser: Weiser is an APP/SERVICE that delivers better experiences for shoppers as they shop, right to their devices, while also offering analytics and insights for brick-and-mortar retailers, including essential data previously only available to online retailers.

ChoreMonstr: ChoreMonstr is a peer-to-peer platform that offers two social groups two chances: One gets empowered to do work they love while controlling their schedule and income level; the second exchanges unwanted chores and errands for precious time.

Tara Vornkahl

Tara Vornkahl currently serves as the Assistant Director of the IIE. In this role, she creates and manages programs and events for UTD students, faculty and staff interested in entrepreneurship and turning their ideas into reality. Tara has an educational background in marketing and social media and is a Bradley University alumni. Her work history is in economic development and innovation and she has been an active volunteer in the DFW startup scene for the past 4 years.  Read more articles

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