Texas State Interdisciplinary Student Team Wins Big at Rice Business Competition

Texas State’s Rice Business Plan Competition Team,  SioTeX™,  won several awards: 1st place in Challenge Round Flight for $1000 cash prize, the $125,000 Texas Halo Fund Investment Prize, and runner-up in the CASIS ISS National Lab Space Flight prize.  The team was also acknowledged as the most engaged in mobile social media activity during the competition. Although they did not advance to the Semi-Finals, SioTeX™ finished in fourth place in terms of overall cash prizes just behind the first and second place competition winners.

The interdiscplinary team is headed by the Material Science, Engineering and Commercialization (MSEC) Ph.D. Program recent graduate, Haoran Chen.  Dr. Chen formed the team which includes Marcus Goss (MSEC student), Ash Kotwal (MSEC Student), Lisa Taylor (MBA student) and Cesar Rivera (MFA student).

SioTeX™ is especially excited about winning the Texas Halo Fund Prize which is awarded for extraordinary entrepreneurship – demonstrated by independent thinking, tireless persistence, belief in your big idea, talent to motivate your team, fortitude, ability to change and adapt to the marketplace, and the aptitude to take a great idea and a small amount of capital and build a globally competitive business. The Texas Halo Fund Prize was the fourth largest prize awarded.

This is the first time that a Texas State University team applied to the competition. The competition took place on the Rice campus. The RBPC, conducted by the Rice Alliance, is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition where teams pitch their business plans to investors and judges. There were more than 500 applicants this year with only 42 teams invited. In total, the Rice Alliance awarded over $3 million in this year’s competition.

SioTeX™ was formed last December and, the team worked tirelessly to be invited and compete. Many of the competing teams have been working for far longer. The success of the team in obtaining investment this quickly is remarkable and a testament to their talents and efforts. The team credits their advisors from multiple academic departments at Texas State University as a fundamental component to their success.

With the investment prize, SioTeX™ will obtain the financing to construct a manufacturing facility and launch their business. SioTeX™ will produce and distribute Eco-Sil™, an environmentally friendly alternative to fumed silica. Eco-Sil is manufactured from rice hulls and is a renewable resource. Target markets include paint, fiberglass-reinforced plastic and tires. These markets currently account for $1.5 billion in sales annually.

For more information, contact Claudia Roeschmann at cr29@txstate.edu.

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