UTSA Student Wins Second Place at LaunchPad Startup Weekend
University of Texas at San Antonio Junior Reem Youssef had no real expectations for the LaunchPad Startup Weekend where she won second place. “I went because I had a requirement for a high impact entrepreneurship class in my Business Honors program,” she explains with a laugh. “I had no idea what to expect. But at the end, I was like ‘Wow! That was so great.’”
Reem is one of the many UTSA Students who recently gained access to the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars network, following an expanded partnership between the college entrepreneurship network and the University of Texas. The Temple University LaunchPad Startup Weekend that Reem attended was one of four LaunchPad Startup Weekend hosted by different schools over the course of October.
“This was the first entrepreneurship program that I was in,” Reem says. “But I wish there was more! I’m looking forward to LaunchPad coming to campus.”
After growing up in Cairo, Egypt, Reem moved to San Antonio, Texas when she was 16 years old. She first became interested in entrepreneurship in high school and eagerly enrolled in the Business Management major when she got to UTSA. She hasn’t let the constraints of the pandemic slow her down: outside of class, Reem continues to serve as an academic peer mentor and goes to a studio three times a week to practice for her dance club.
The pandemic also hasn’t changed her ambition to one day start her own company. “There’s some more uncertainty now about what I want to do and where I’ll live, but no matter the situation you can always adapt. I learned that the hard way,” she says. “In my school in Cairo, I spoke Arabic and French, and when I moved here I only spoke a little English. I had to adapt.”
LaunchPad Startup Weekend: From Theory to Practice
During the Startup Weekend, Reem joined a team with three Temple University students creating an app called PROche that connects people who need car repairs to mechanics nearby, with the ability to sort for price and quality.
Over the course of the weekend, Reem created a survey to help with market segmentation and to better understand feasible revenue streams. She also worked with her team to design a prototype and nail down a realistic business model.
Reem’s favorite part of working with the PROche team was that it was a real-life, hands on application of the Business Honors class she was enrolled in. “I was very glad that I got to practice what I was learning in class. It was like a whole semester’s worth in three days,” she says. “It was interesting to see what I learned is actually real and something that I can use in my future.”
Looking back at the Startup Weekend, Reem says the event taught her lessons in two main categories: business and life.
The first business lesson she took away was advice from a mentor about the importance of building a rapport and earning trust from investors before pitching them an idea. “If they don’t trust me as a person who can be responsible for their money, why would they want to help me with my idea? That really stuck in my head. I like how psychology goes into business as well.”
The second business lesson was related to practical skill building: “The weekend helped with my communication skills and critical thinking skills,” she says. She had to figure out what was a realistic starting point for the PROche app, how to explain her vision to the rest of her team, and how to communicate the company to people unfamiliar with the idea.
Beyond business, Reem reflects that the event helped her gain confidence. “I liked that I was thrown into the ocean and had to survive on my own,” she says. “Especially after we won second place, I realized that I really do understand what a business model is and a revenue stream and market segmentation. It made me think it’s important to go out of my comfort zone. And now I can tell myself, ‘If you’re thrown into the ocean, you can help yourself. You can survive. You don’t need to be scared of doing anything because you are good enough.”