Monday, August 03, 2015

Hit me with your best shot: CITE competition winners' journey to success


From left is the Deadeye Coach team: Zachary Hamilton, Matt Gonzales, Matthew Jackson and E.J. Pinnock. The device gives marksmen the data and feedback they need to fix fundamental flaws in their firing and to ensure their next shot counts. Created to help soldiers on the range, Deadeye Coach has evolved to address the needs of hunters in the field and law enforcement.

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(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."


To support Deadeye Coach, visit their funding page, Indiegogo, or email the team at

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Did You Know?

For acclaimed UTSA writer, poetry rhymes with life

Robert Penn Warren said: “How do poems grow? They grow out of your life.” That is certainly true for Carmen Tafolla. An associate professor of practice with the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, Tafolla has authored more than 20 acclaimed books of poetry and prose, including "The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans." It won the Tom´s Rivera Children’s Book Award in 2009.

Tafolla is a San Antonio native who grew up on the West Side. Attending a private high school, she realized that the literature did not positively portray her community or the people who lived there. She determined to change that in her writing. In published works for both adults and children — more than 200 anthologies, magazines, journals, textbooks and readers in four languages — Tafolla reflects on the rich Mexican-American culture of San Antonio in which she grew up.

Did you know? Tafolla was San Antonio's first Poet Laureate, from 2012 to 2014, and currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Texas.

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Aug. 4, 6 - 8 p.m.

Free Teacher Tuesday: Los Tejanos Workshop

Discover resources and strategies for teaching Tejano history and culture and get a special educator's tour of the new long-term exhibit, Los Tejanos.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

Aug. 6, 5 - 7 p.m.; 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

6th Annual Texas Higher Education Symposium

This annual symposium is an opportunity to discuss Texas higher education issues and trends with Texas higher education scholars, state and local government officials, students, and campus and local community members.
Downtown Campus

Aug. 9, 12 - 5 p.m.

Vaquerocation 2015

This cowboy-themed programming, offered in conjunction with Our Kids Magazine's Kidcation Week, gives families the opportunity to visit with cowboy docents, enjoy readings and visit activity tables.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

Aug. 17, 11:30 p.m.

Midnight Light

Join President Ricardo Romo, The Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band, students, faculty and staff to light the monument at the Main Campus entrance at the stroke of midnight.
John Peace Boulevard Entrance, Main Campus

Aug. 18, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

President's BBQ on the Plaza

Join university President Ricardo Romo on the Bill Miller Plaza for his annual free BBQ lunch.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus

Aug. 18, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

President's BBQ on the Lawn

Join university President Ricardo Romo on the Convocation Center lawn for his annual free BBQ lunch.
Convocation Center East Lawn, Main Campus

Aug. 22, 6 p.m.

UTSA Alumni Gala

The UTSA Alumni Association hosts this annual gala honoring the Alumna of the Year, Alumnus of the Year and the Alumnus of the Year Lifetime Achievement award winners.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr.

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