OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | WeekWise: Eleven and Twelve
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WeekWise: Eleven and Twelve

Week Eleven

It’s the week we’ve all been waiting for: the countdown to Bayou Startup Showcase is finally over. Monday and Tuesday of this week was dedicated to the final days of pitch practice. Founders and coaches focused on enunciation, eye contact, gestures, and presentation aesthetics. After many rounds of pitch practice, founders gained confidence for the spotlight.

Wednesday OwlSpark moved to University of Houston’s campus to check out the venue for Bayou Startup Showcase. With four hours of dress rehearsal on the University of Houston Student Center Theater stage, the founders got a taste of the big day. They experimented with hand gestures, positioning, and worked on transitions between teams. With the mics set up, projectors ready, and founders on top of their game, we were ready for the Fifth Annual Bayou Startup Showcase.

Thursday was THE DAY! Founders arrived at University of Houston around lunch for a stress buster lunch to get together where they got last minute jitters out and patiently counted down the minutes. Over lunch, teams were awarded superlatives that best embodied their personalities and the personalities of their team over the course of the summer. They also heard some familiar phrases in a pitch smash, which rolled our favorite lines from each team’s pitch into one. After lunch, the founders gathered their equipment and set up their tables in the showcase room. With custom signs adorning their tables, founders smoothed over the little details and headed to the theater. When the spotlight came on and the seats were filled, the founders were off! Each team went and crushed their pitch! Those pre-pitch jitters were nowhere to be found, and their hard work was on display. Once the pitches were over, the founders moved to the showcase room where they had the chance to network with entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and other members of the greater Houston entrepreneurial community.

Week Twelve

On Monday the founders debriefed from the big day and discussed their experiences among peers. Across the board, founders enjoyed the event and learned a lot from both the attendees and the experience. Later on,, Jacob Setterbo of HIREtech gave our founders a crash course in non-dilutive fundraising. To round out our Monday,, Keith Kreuer, principal at RedHouse Associates, and Blair Garrou, managing director at Mercury Fund, dove into fundraising through venture capitalists and angel investors. They discussed the do’s and don’ts of seeking help from these types of investors, and addressed many common misconceptions about angel investors and venture capitalists. Additionally the pair discussed how founders could shape their startups to appeal to investors.

On Tuesday, Bill Greisinger, founder of Comprehensive Capital Solutions, talked to the founders about venture debt. Founders learned how venture debt works, and also learned how venture banks differ from commercial banks. After Bill’s lecture, the founders had another session spearheaded by Al Danto, managing director of The Danto Group and Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business faculty member. Al discussed valuation and understanding the investor’s perspective. He advised founders to build a predictable revenue stream by taking out risk and knowing when to get out, and addressed some investment theories that determine when and who invests in a company. Later, he led founders in an exercise to demonstrate the importance of investing at the right time—not too early and not too late. Founders learned how to use their positioning and intuitive questions to reach the answer. Tuesday rounded out the summer and the end of OwlSpark and RED Labs Class 6 with a session led by Danielle Supkis-Cheek, director at PKF Texas, and Doug Parker, tax manager at PKF Texas, who advised founders on financial literacy. Founders learned about the different types of accounts, fundamentals of business accounting, and gained confidence in how to run their companies in a financially savvy fashion. Danielle and Doug also dug into the financial differences between corporate structures, such as LLC. C-Corp, and S-Corp.

And just like that, our sixth #bayoustartupsummer is a wrap! We are so proud of our founders and it has truly been rewarding watching them grow over the past 12 weeks. We can’t wait to see what they can do!