The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


From Blackstone LaunchPad to Startup Success

From Blackstone LaunchPad to Startup Success

Blackstone launchpad sign

The Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars network has helped open the door to entrepreneurship for many students at The University of Texas at Dallas and others.

Since the Blackstone Charitable Foundation made its original grant to UT Dallas in 2016, more than 25,000 people — a mix of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members — have come through the LaunchPad program’s doors physically or more recently, virtually.

“Over the past four years, we have seen incredible growth across campus in the number of students accessing the resources available to them to start new companies and explore ideas,” said Dresden Goldberg, campus director of Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at UT Dallas. “LaunchPad has trained students for career mobility by providing them with an entrepreneurial mindset and essential skills like creative problem solving, resourcefulness and leadership.”

In January, the foundation announced the expansion of Blackstone LaunchPad student entrepreneurship programming from two to eight campuses in the UT System.

The $5 million expansion gives students critical access to resources, opportunities and mentorship at UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT Rio Grande Valley, UT San Antonio, UT Medical Branch and UT Southwestern Medical Center. UT Austin — along with UT Dallas — has been a LaunchPad site since 2016.

“With access to thousands of world-class mentors and partnerships with sister schools, we are excited to see where the new grant takes us from here,” said Goldberg, who also serves as director of programs and operations at the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), which houses Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars.

Featured Founder Brian Hoang ‘19

Brian Hoang

Brian Hoang BS’19

Title: Co-founder and CEO of SURVIVR®

UT Dallas education: bachelor’s degree in software engineering from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science

Notable: SURVIVR won the $25,000 grand prize at the 2018 UT Dallas Big Idea Competition. Hoang also received a 2018 Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship.

Hoang co-founded Immosis, a virtual reality development agency in 2016. In 2018, Immosis became SURVIVR, a corporation dedicated to public safety, after the team met a retired law enforcement officer who realized the potential for the use of virtual reality (VR) as training for police. Their flagship product became a VR training platform that helps first responders improve their decision-making and de-escalation skills. SURVIVR’s products are used in municipal, state, federal, military and university law enforcement agencies across eight states, Hoang said, and the company plans to expand this year.

On his time at UT Dallas: “I’m a tactical learner and prioritize results over everything else. So, it was critical to know the right experts to consult with whenever I came across a challenge. Being plugged into the mentor network helped me move faster, avoid mistakes and make the most out of my goals while at UT Dallas. Since I’m biased toward the more tactical resources, I also took advantage of the CometX Accelerator Program and mentor office hours. You will learn more effectively when you apply concepts within a practical and relevant context.”

Advice for UT Dallas entrepreneurs: “If you have a business idea, go speak to the Blackstone LaunchPad folks to figure out which mentors you should talk to. If you need affordable office space, consider the Venture Development Center. If you want to gain experience at an established startup first, attend the Startup Internship and Career Fair. If you’re interested in the venture capital side, take the UT Dallas Seed Fund course. There are resources for everything you could want to learn at UTD.”

This article is also available at the UT Dallas News Center.