HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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:
- 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.”
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the C. T. Bauer College of Business
The C. T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C. T. Bauer College of Business.