AUSTIN (KXAN) - Kyle Cox smiles proudly when he says students at the Longhorn start-up camp draw inspiration from room 2713 of Dobie Hall at the University of Texas Austin campus.
Cox, who is lead adviser of the Austin Technology Incubator's IT/Wireless & University Development portfolio companies says that dorm room is where Michael Dell started Dell Computer when he studied at the University of Texas in the 1980s.
That was a few years before the formation of the Austin Technology Incubator which has its student entrepreneurship branch housed in the nearby UT administration building.
The group's Longhorn start-up camp offers more than 200 young minds like Michael Koetting guidance and support as learn to cash in on their ideas. He's behind one of 54 start-up teams.
Dell built and sold personal computers directly to customers. Koetting told KXAN he is developing ‘hoot.me' - an education app that helps students reach out to teachers and tutors to get their homework questions answered. The idea is one part of the journey. Knowing how to raise venture capital money and take that idea into the business world is the other part.
"We get to go at a lot of things with a lot of momentum, with a lot of velocity because we have extra time, but at the same time we lack the experience," Koetting said. "That's where having a space with other people trying to tackle similar challenges and mentors as well, is helpful."
"It's absolutely critical for us, giving us a place to actually be able to operate in an environment filled with mentors," he added.
Cox, whose online bio mentions he founded multiple firms in areas ranging from distribution and e-commerce to medical devices and healthcare technology is one of those mentors and advisers. He says the next Big Idea could come from social, mobile apps like Koetting's or other sectors we all buy into.
"It's not just one whiz bang idea but it's a whiz band idea that's in a market that has massive potential: energy, healthcare, transportation, education. These are areas right now that are really hot," he said.
So who could be the next Dell here in Austin?
"We had a student start-up that just raised $2 million a couple weeks ago," said Cox. "They were in the enterprise security space that's an area that is traditionally Austin. And (that's) what brings venture capitalists from other cities to Austin and invest their money."
Cox says the advice he gives new entrepreneurs is to ask the potential customer they want and go from there.
For an online aggregate of more than 1,500 Austin-based start-ups and venture capital groups check out the website.
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