San Antonio business leaders mentor student entrepreneurs in Startup Challenge

September 21, 2020

Teams pitch startups to mentors at kickoff event

SAN ANTONIO – Students competing in the 2020 Startup Challenge were introduced during an online kickoff event to the business leaders and industry experts who will serve as mentors throughout the competition.

The Startup Challenge, held each fall semester at the H-E-B School of Business and Administration, allows aspiring student entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their business plan while competing for $10,000 in startup funding.

Each team is paired with a mentor from the San Antonio community to help guide their progress through the development of a startup. Eleven mentors from a range of backgrounds will work with the teams in 2020. Expand the list below to see who will serve as mentors.

John Taboada, Ph.D. | Taboada Law Firm, PLLC

Brad Bowen, President | Texas Medical Screening

Femi Oyedele, Communicable Disease Liaison | Toronto Public Health

Reynaldo Cano, Founding CEO | Cano & Associates

Meredith Walker, Executive Director | Texas Business Hall of Fame

Cynthia Franklin, BS, MSCI, Research Associate | Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Feik School of Pharmacy

David Fonseca, Vice President of Global Business Development | Velocity TX

Joyce Dulcey, Program Manager | Geekdom

Lee Bailey, Vice President of Internal Audit | Valero Energy Company

Michelle Vaca-Seneca, Lecturer | The University of Texas at Austin

Bill Waechter, President | North Central Baptist Hospital

During the kickoff event, eight teams were given 90 seconds to pitch their startup to the mentors. Competition administrators will pair mentors with teams based on their professional experience and areas of expertise.

"Participation in these types of programs provides fulfillment, inspiration and a tangible reminder of what the future holds in store for our world," said Reynaldo Cano, competition mentor and the founding CEO at Cano & Associates. "The student's point of view reflects their talent and ingenuity on today's challenges."

The kickoff event was also attended by Meg Paulus, a partner at HOLT Ventures - the strategic venture capital arm of HOLT Caterpillar and the sponsor of the Startup Challenge.

Some of the startup ideas pitched were an alternative to potentially harmful hand sanitizers, an exotic fruit delivery company, an innovative fashion merchandising retail experience and a personal life coaching service. Also, among the startups is VOY, the campus food delivery service started in the spring by Luis Jimenez, a freshman mechatronics engineering student. Jimenez won first place and $500 in the Pitch Competition for his idea and is hoping to secure more funding through the Startup Challenge.

Teams will now work to develop their business plans with help from their mentors and through a series of workshops hosted by the Startup Challenge. The finalists of the challenge will be named at the beginning of November. The Final Presentations for the Startup Challenge will be held December 4 where the winner of the $10,000 will be announced.

Learn more about the Startup Challenge