(July 29, 2014) -- In December 2010, Zachary Hamilton and his joint engineering and business team tied for first place in the Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Student Technology Venture Competition with their innovation, Deadeye Coach. But, winning the competition was just the beginning of a very long journey.
Now, four years later, Hamilton is the only original Deadeye Coach team member still working on the project and has surrounded himself with a new team that is trying to go the distance and see that the Deadeye Coach gets into the marketplace and becomes a profitable business venture.
"After we won, all of our team members graduated," said Hamilton. "My original teammates either just disappeared or ended up finding jobs at existing businesses. I started working for a company, but when Cory Hallam from the Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship contacted me and said that he wanted to keep the project going, I left my job to pursue Deadeye full time."
Hamilton came up for the idea for the Deadeye Coach when he was in the Army and preparing for his first deployment to Iraq. He saw many of his unit's veteran leaders were forced to accept early retirement or medical discharge, leaving younger, less experienced soldiers the responsibility of firearm training without the mentorship and guidance of veteran leaders.
"Our first range qualification resulted in only 28 percent of the unit's 350 soldiers qualifying on their individual weapons," recalls Hamilton. "We had motivated soldiers, but we didn't have enough leaders capable of training them. With that in mind, I created the Deadeye Coach to give marksmen the data and feedback they need to fix fundamental flaws in their firing and to ensure that their next shot counts."Matt Gonzales, now current CEO of the company and a UTSA graduate, said that someone like Hamilton is the ideal candidate when it comes to engineering this type of innovation.
"Zack spent time in the army where he saw a problem," Gonzales said. "And if you find a problem that people want solved, you have found a business opportunity. A lot of the winners of the CITE competitions, like Zack, had previous experience dealing with a problem, and developed something to address that certain problem."
Before joining Deadeye, Gonzales and Matthew Jackson (Deadeye CFO and UTSA College of Business graduate), both worked closely with Hallam, UTSA chief commercialization officer, associate professor and CITE director, and Anita Leffel, CITE assistant director. Jackson and his CITE team, Pree, placed third in the 2010 CITE competition. Gonzales helped develop the Entrepreneurs Academy with Hallam's office after he graduated from the UTSA College of Business. Hallam and Leffel encouraged the two UTSA grads to become involved in Deadeye, which they did in 2012.
"I admire and respect Anita and Cory and what they are trying to do at UTSA -- build up the CITE program to be the best in the country," said Gonzales. "Getting involved with Deadeye is an effort on my part to help them further their mission at CITE. We want to be among the first success stories coming out of the CITE program."
Hallam and the center just received $300,000 from the 80/20 Foundation to continue building the program, and $294,000 from the NSF to fund new product prototypes and development. Hallam says that UTSA has established the foundation for a successful program, and the university is now taking the next steps to create an even more robust entrepreneurial ecosystem at UTSA that spans all colleges and infuses entrepreneurial education and experiences across the campus.
"Most successful tech entrepreneurs are able to pair a critical market need with a new technology," said Hallam. "I believe this team has done that, and by securing their first major round of funding they will have a great product that can serve their government and public customer segments."
Current UTSA computer science student E.J. Pinnock is the latest addition to the team, and is currently developing mobile software to take Deadeye Coach to the next level.
"With a startup, everyday is a new challenge," said Jackson. "We always have to pivot. It seems like success is always right around the corner, and then the next week, there is another corner we have to turn to keep moving forward. We are wondering can the passion keep moving us forward? It has gotten us this far, and we are confident that we can keep going. We have set up a lot of opportunities that we are going take advantage of. I am confident that we will stick it through."
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
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