Student start-up organization seeks advice from Zachary Dell

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Zachary Dell, son of Michael Dell, will be joining with StartATX on Tuesday evening for a presentation about student entrepreneurship.

StartATX is a campus organization founded in the spring as a networking and resources group for students in start-up businesses.

It was created and is run by Sebastian Bruce, a computer science and business economics senior, with co-president Zachary Cook, a management information systems senior.

Bruce said he was inspired to create StartATX when he learned about similar organizations at schools such as Harvard University and Penn State. He said there are other groups at UT designed for students beginning to consider small business, but there is nothing like StartATX.

“We’re hoping to primarily target people who are [already] in start-ups,” Bruce said.

Cook said he felt the organization was important because student entrepreneurs face challenges specific to running a small business.

“Starting a business when you’re a full-time student is such a unique experience,” Cook said. “It is a lot of responsibility and risk.”

Bruce and Cook said students behind start-ups struggle with finding mentors, co-founders and investors. StartATX provides students with the support, advice and a pool of contacts entrepreneurs need.

“There’s a start-up culture [in Austin] but it’s very young,” Bruce said.

Bruce said StartATX plans to enrich this culture, and said he hopes to see success stories come from their organization. The co-presidents are being mentored by McCombs’ Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brett Hurt and receive input from Michael Dell.

Last summer Bruce met with Zachary Dell to discuss the development of Dell’s new business. Dell, a junior in high school, is already working on his second company. Dell’s latest project is a new mobile app called “Interested,” which will be released in 3 to 4 weeks.

His first business was a sports camp he founded with his cousins. According to Dell, entrepreneurship is like a baseball game.

“You swing until you hit it with a new company … maybe we’ll hit a homerun, maybe we’ll strike out,” Dell said. “But it won’t be the last time I step up to the plate.”

He said his father’s guidance has been helpful in establishing these start-ups, but he chooses to learn through his own experiences.

“My dad has been an incredible influence — he never forced anything on me, but he was always there to say, ‘Read this book’ or, ‘Contact this guy’ when I had new ideas,” Dell said. “I’ve learned things I wouldn’t have if I’d gone straight to my dad.”

Dell said he plans to bring those experiences and his passion for small business together in his speech on Tuesday.

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