As a graduate of University of Texas at Dallas, it is always inspiring to return to campus to support the next generation. There has been tremendous growth and evolution since I graduated 12 years ago, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the intellect and curiosity of the students.
For the second year, I recently had the honor of speaking at, and judging, the UT Dallas Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s 2016 Business Idea Competition, where seven finalists competed for more than $20,000 in cash prizes to assist in developing their business ideas. The experience again reminded me of the many challenges — and a unique mindset — that unite us as entrepreneurs.
It’s easy to recognize an entrepreneur: just look for the most driven person in the room, the one who is constantly absorbing information and insights. At last year’s Business Idea Competition, I encouraged each budding entrepreneur to REACH: to build relationships with others, educate themselves, ask for help, communicate effectively with all stakeholders, and above all to stay hungry.
Despite a commitment to doing everything right — to REACHing for success — the magic doesn’t always occur. The failure rate for startups, in general, is staggering. So for most entrepreneurs, a dose of failure is a rite of passage, and those who continue to dig deep and innovate will live to fight another day.
… For most entrepreneurs, a dose of failure is a rite of passage, and those who continue to dig deep and innovate will live to fight another day.
I emphasized to this year’s entrepreneur finalists that there is often no growth without PAIN. As an entrepreneur, it is important to persist. You may fail, but you must never give up. You must use your failures to adapt to new information or situations. Innovate constantly. Remember to take risks, otherwise, you are waiting for the expiration date of your business. Indeed, you must out-innovate your competitors constantly. And always nurture your business, in particular, the employees and partners who are instrumental to its success.
As the CEO of Axxess, one of the country’s fastest growing technology companies in health care, I have quite a lot of experience in working through the PAIN. In particular, I make time to nurture the organization every single day; no matter how big Axxess gets, every customer, every Axxessian, every partner matters, and giving back to our community matters.
From their presentations on educational platforms and cake decorating aids to meet up apps for “nerds” and advanced medical solutions, it is clear that this year’s competitors also were familiar with working through the PAIN of entrepreneurship. First place was awarded to Skin Aware Medical, which offers an improved skin-based allergy testing with a miniaturized flexible bioelectronic device, presenting a complete paradigm shift for allergy treatment.
This team of entrepreneurs wowed the judges and audience with their detailed research, solid strategic plan of action and funding secured from other sources to launch their offering earning them first place. And while Skin Aware Medical may have won the prize, ultimately, Dallas is the beneficiary of not only UTD’s impressive programs, but also its graduates –- the entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.
Follow Axxess on Twitter at @axxess.
Delivering what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth innovation, every day. Get the Dallas Innovates e-newsletter.