Texas State team advances to ACS GCI Business Plan Competition
by Brittnie Curtis and Mary-Love Bigony
Four Texas State graduate students and one recent Ph.D graduate left Houston in April with a $125,000 prize from the Texas HALO Fund. When they arrived back in San Marcos, they were ready to build their business.
The prize came from the SioTeX™ team’s participation in the Rice Business Plan Competition, the first time a Texas State University team had competed in the prestigious event, which attracts graduate students from around the world.
The competition allowed its participants a unique lesson in the importance of teamwork. “I was interested in starting a company based on my Ph.D. work and participating in the Rice Business Plan Competition,” says Dr. Haoran Chen, the first graduate of Texas States Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization (MSEC) doctorial program. “But I realized that an individual effort was far from sufficient. All kinds of things needed to be done quickly and in high quality.”
Chen talked to Dr. Gary Beall, associate director of the MSEC program, who quickly assembled a team:
- Dr. Haoran Chen
- Marcus Goss, MSEC doctoral student
- Ash Kotwal, MSEC doctoral student
- Cesar Rivera, master’s student in Texas State’s communication design program
- Lisa Taylor, M.B.A. student in the McCoy College of Business Administration
For Lisa Taylor, the support of Texas State faculty members was a key component to the group’s success. “The Texas State Faculty has been so dedicated and helpful to our team during this process. Each of our department’s professors, deans and directors committed so much of their time, knowledge and expertise,” she says. “Dr. Beall recognized the benefits of constructing a team of students with varying expertise, and acted as our lead advisor. None of this would be possible without him.”
SioTeX™ will produce and distribute Eco-Sil™, an environmentally friendly alternative to fumed silica. It’s manufactured from rice hulls and is a renewable source. Target markets include paint, fiberglass-reinforced plastic and tires. These markets currently account for $1.5 billion in sales annually.
SioTeX™ will soon compete as a finalist in the 2014 ACS GCI Green Chemistry and Engineering Business Plan Competition. The competition will take place at the American Chemical Society GCI meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 18. This business plan competition is dedicated to green chemistry and engineering and focuses on sustainability-oriented entrepreneurship. The competition allows the general public to vote for best technology. Donations and voting will be accepted through June 13. The votes will count towards the individual overall score for each competitor and the funds raised will be awarded to the grand prize winner of the competition.
Support your fellow Bobcats! Make a contribution of $5 or more and use your votes to support SioTeX. Go, Cats, go!