Bauer Students Win $10K at SXSW Startup Challenge

Published on March 25, 2014

RED Labs Startup Kandy Kruisers Makes Impressive Showing

This year’s South by Southwest festival proved to be a success for Kandy Kruisers, the business borne in the first class of RED Labs, the University of Houston startup accelerator housed in Bauer College. Co-founders, from left, Hamza Amir, Timur Daudpota and Jesus Hernandez recently won $10,000 during the SXSW Dumbstruck Challenge competition, hosted by VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuck (center).

This year’s South by Southwest festival proved to be a success for Kandy Kruisers, the business started in the first class of RED Labs, the University of Houston startup accelerator housed in Bauer College. Co-founders, from left, Hamza Amir, Timur Daudpota and Jesus Hernandez recently won $10,000 during the SXSW Dumbstruck Challenge competition, hosted by VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuck (center).

Three students from the first class of RED Labs at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston recently won $10,000 competing against several dozen startups from across the nation at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Dumbstruck Challenge.

Kandy Kruisers, a skateboard manufacturing company, was co-founded by entrepreneurship and supply chain management student Timur Daudpota and supply chain management student Hamza Amir with computer science alumnus Jesus Hernandez. The company’s signature product is a portable mini cruiser skateboard.

After solidifying their business plan in RED Labs, the students have since grown Kandy Kruisers by signing on three of the nation’s largest skateboard distribution companies to sell their products. The $10,000 prize is vital to expanding the business, Daudpota said.

“We have been spreading all throughout Houston, Austin, and Galveston, and are in the process of working with several distributors who are beginning to carry our products with pleasure, so we will need some funding to make sure we’re ready to supply them with the amount of product they need,” he added. “Aside from manufacturing, we will be investing in design and research to further improve our products and turn them into the vision we’ve had in mind.”

The Kandy Kruiser group earned the big win at SXSW through a competition sponsored by Dumbstruck, a social video app for iPhone that launched at the music, film and technology festival, with support from partners Angel Hack, Momentum, Gunnar Optiks, Buzzstarter and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuck.

The competition asked participants to “find the wildest action in Austin” and capture it using Dumbstruck, which allows users to see friends’ reactions to messages through video. The Bauer team incorporated their Kandy Kruiser boards and many celebrities in Austin attending the festival in their submission.

“We actually came across the challenge completely by chance or as we would consider it, by fate, and jumped in,” Amir said. “Not ones to miss any opportunities without thinking twice, we joined the competition and started brainstorming the most epic ways we could win.”

The team said they envision Kandy Kruisers as an international lifestyle brand and will work to expand across Europe and Australia by next year, along with plans to get their products into large retail stores.

“We all have always had the passion to leave a lasting impact wherever we are, and that has built our determination and hunger to succeed,” Daudpota said. “We not only saw a problem for transportation, but of people taking life too seriously, too fast. We knew we could do something about it, so we did.”

He added: “We came up with a viable solution, and people were enjoying our products and smiling every time they saw our ‘Krew’ members ride about campus. We knew this was going to be big, further adding to the bursting flame of passion that was already brewing in each of our members.”

By Ann Lynd