Being born into an entrepreneurial family is not a prerequisite for business and academic success, but it certainly helps Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate students Kiran Devaprasad, Brian Harris and Kamiar Kordi.
All three come from entrepreneurial families and are on their way to achieving the same type of success that their relatives modeled for them.
That success is about to include the distinction of earning Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation scholarships.
The organization will honor scholarship recipients this year at an October 27 gala in San Antonio that will afford them the opportunity to rub elbows with business legends including Warren E. Buffet, one of the inductees this year into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation assists future business leaders through a scholarship program. This year, the UT Dallas scholarships are sponsored by the Mitchell Family Foundation. In years past, a single scholarship was awarded to a student from each of 25 participating Texas colleges and universities. This year marks the first time that up to three students from a single institution were eligible for the $15,000 award.
“For me, what planted the seed of entrepreneurship was being taught a sense of accomplishment,” Devaprasad said. “I realized that my father and uncle work hard, and their destiny was determined primarily by their own actions and not based on somebody else’s assessment of their worth.”
Devaprasad, who is pursuing dual degrees in the Executive MBA program and the MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, will use his scholarship earnings to grow TraceIT — a startup he created with EMBA classmate William White. Their system tracks drivers and loads in the car- and truck-hauling industry.
The proceeds from Harris’ scholarship will help expand Blanco Farms Exotic Mushrooms, a business that evolved from a hobby he developed while working as a fishing guide.
“If I were to offer someone advice, I would say that successful entrepreneurs don’t hesitate,” Harris said. “They take opportunities to make it real. Don’t just sit back and think about ideas. I grew some mushrooms, took them to a restaurant and put them in a chef’s hands. I found out their needs. That’s how I made it concrete.”
Wanting to start a business the right way, Harris enrolled in the BS in Business Administration program, then the MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fast-Track program. Then he entered MSIE’s Startup Launch Track. This allowed him to test his concept. It was so successful that he was awarded $5,000 in seed funding. Now, the proceeds from his scholarship will help expand the business.
Kordi’s parents had emigrated from Iran to Dallas and started an ice-cream truck business, He got to tag along from the age of six months, and as he grew older, he got more directly involved in the family business.
Like Devaprasad and Harris, Kordi, an MS in finance major, ran with those early lessons. He started an organization as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University and spearheaded many more. The funding from his scholarship award will be used to start a couple of tech companies including a nonprofit, value-added organization with multiple services that facilitate voters’ involvement in the democratic process. Those services feature Policentric — a mobile app by which constituents can send correspondence to their representatives, monitor their replies and response rates, and check up on their legislation.
“The main purpose of Policentric app is to hold candidates accountable for the policy decisions they pursue,” said Kordi. “There’s so much anger in society that’s coming to a boiling point, and I wanted to provide a means by which voters can make decisions based on [rational thought] and logic rather than angry rhetoric.”
—Jimmie R. Markham