JSOM Students Work on Startup Ideas With Their Engineering Counterparts

Startup Ideas

Josh Garcia (left) with Ty Hillier and Julie Haworth

Ty Hillier and Josh Garcia got hands-on marketing experience — called experiential learning in the academic world — while still Naveen Jindal School of Management students.

Last semester, BS in Marketing Program Director Julie Haworth oversaw Garcia, a junior, and Hillier, a senior who graduated in December, as they did the legwork to ensure an app, being designed through the skunkworks operations at UTDesign, was novel and marketable.

UTDesign connects companies and innovators to teams of senior students at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Engineering students take these assignments to complete a required two-semester capstone project. For a price (in the $10,000 range), off-campus inventors expand their resources by using UTDesign students to help hunt for solutions. Companies get fresh young minds tackling their problem with all results turned over to them at the end of the project.

Rod Wetterskog

Rod Wetterskog

Part of the pitch to companies, says Rod Wetterskog, Jonsson School assistant dean for corporate relations, “is that we say, ‘JSOM is a partner with this program. If you want Jonsson School students to develop the technology, and Jindal School students to develop the business application, you will have a complete package,’ ”. If companies express interest in JSOM, he connects them with Haworth.

Working on projects like these, Haworth says, is a huge competitive advantage for JSOM students’ job searches.

The idea for the app that Hillier and Garcia researched was dreamed up by two local healthcare professionals who wanted an easy way to find times when they could meet for social events. What if an app would synch the calendars of two people to identify those mutually free times?

Hillier and Garcia researched comparable apps on the market and learned from a doctoral student at JSOM how apps diffuse through the marketplace. Hillier ran focus groups, with help from Garcia.

Hillier and Garcia, who earned a grade for their work, met at least weekly last semester to reach their self-imposed (and Haworth-approved) deadlines and deliverables. They completed monetization plans, a competitive analysis, market research and diffusion/branding issues.

Haworth is excited about the growing collaborative relationship with UTDesign. “It’s experiential learning, it puts our students at a competitive advantage,” she says. For companies, she says, it’s a no-brainer. “The (investors) get real IP (intellectual property) out of this for a very low cost.”