RED Labs Gives Students Access to Amenities and Entrepreneurial Expertise
Houston students are participating in the first installment of RED Labs, a new startup accelerator that seeks to transform entrepreneurial ideas into businesses. Hesam Panahi, a clinical assistant professor at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, created RED Labs to provide a support system for students who are passionate about starting a company. The spring semester program runs for 12 weeks, culminating with a May 29 Demo Day where students will present their fine-tuned business plans to investors and members of Houston’s start-up community.The 12 students and alumni in the inaugural class are developing six potential businesses using innovative technologies and applications. Among them:
Breaking down the first
class of RED Labs participants:
Reyna Brizuela, Management Information Systems, Videostry
Iggy Harrison, Management Information Systems, Videostry
Adrik Gregorian, Management Information Systems, FoxCRM
Raul Giron, Program for Excellence in Selling, FoxCRM
Jose Pablo Ramirez Pradilla, Management Information Systems, FoxCRM
Armen Suny, WCE, VA
Vicken Asadourian, Petroleum Engineering, VA
Hamza Amir, Supply Chain Management, Kandy Kruisers
Timur Daudpota, WCE, Kandy Kruisers
Jesus Hernandez, Computer Science alumnus, Kandy Kruisers
Genevieve Simmons, WCE, VocaLesson
Robert Dale Smith, Computer Science, Mote Labs
- Robert Dale Smith — a computer science major who participated in Bauer’s first 3 Day Startup last year — has already launched Mote Labs, a company that streamlines TV remotes into web browsers and secondary devices.
- Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship student Genevieve Simmons wants to teach the world to sing with an online platform called VocaLesson, which would link vocal instructors to students via video conferencing.
- Bauer students Hamza Amir and Timur Daudpota, along with computer-science alumnus Jesus Hernandez, are developing an e-commerce platform to sell their neon-colored skateboards Kandy Kruisers.
RED Labs’ designated space at Melcher Hall is open 24/7 and fitted with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, flat-screens, storage lockers and unlimited coffee and ramen noodles. Along with the amenities, students get one-on-one coaching from mentors who have already launched successful startups.
“One of the most valuable aspects of an accelerator program are the mentors,” Panahi said. “Having access to people who have actually done this before is not something you can get from a textbook.”
At weekly “Coworking Wednesday” sessions, which run from 6 to 9 p.m., students hear from successful entrepreneurs, lawyers, venture capitalists and creative/UX/design experts.
The energetic young professor sees RED Labs as a complementary program to 3 Day Startup, which he also spearheads at UH. (This year’s 3 Day Startup, which runs April 19-21, will be hosted once again by Bauer College’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship.)
“I think that what we are really trying to do is give these students firsthand experience at building something, at building a business, and providing them the resources to deal with real issues and questions that they must address,” he said.
Panahi plans to continue RED Labs over the Fall 2013 semester. Course credit is optional. The only requirement is that at least one team member be actively enrolled at the university.
“Bauer is serious about supporting these students in every way possible, and this is just the beginning,” he said. “We want to see our students create successful companies. We will continue to improve and expand the program over the next few years.”
By Wendell Brock