Alumna Lands Buyer for Firm She Founded as MBA Student
Lucent Mobile Acquires Maker of Software Service That Helps App Developers Reach Users
Jun. 17, 2013
MeLinda McCall says UT Dallas played a large part in Proxomo's success. Professors and fellow MBA students shared expertise.
McCall MBA ’10 worked seven days a week. She spent Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarship funds to market the company’s product, which app developers use to connect their innovations with phones, tablets and laptops.
McCall also ran a human resources consulting business to keep paychecks coming, all while juggling a family, half-marathon training and more.
The hard work paid off this month when Lucent Mobile of Dallas bought Proxomo for an undisclosed sum. The company will keep the Proxomo name.
McCall said that Full-Time MBA Program at UT Dallas has played an important role in her success. Professors gave advice and mentoring. Fellow MBA students shared expertise. And interns helped with pricing strategy and marketing, helping the company move faster, she said.
“The UT Dallas ecosystem has been such a boon to Proxomo. As with any startup, resources are constrained, time is short, and everything needs to be done yesterday,” McCall said. “We appreciated the assistance from the entire UT Dallas ecosystem and give them much credit for directly supporting Proxomo's entrepreneurial growth and success.”
McCall’s involvement with Proxomo began at UT Dallas.
The then-MBA student met her co-founders after participating in the UT Dallas Annual Business Idea Competition in 2009. Her team placed third, and her partner did not want to pursue their idea. But one of the judges, entrepreneur Steven Thrasher, contacted McCall about a different startup that was just getting off the ground. That led to her role as Proxomo’s CEO.
Proxomo found support early on. The firm was selected to join technology incubator Tech Wildcatters in 2011 and was invited as one of the first residents of the high-tech incubator, Gravity Center, in 2011.
McCall said she was grateful to be able to continue to seek guidance from her professors along the way.
“That has been instrumental in bringing this to the point where we were acquired,” McCall said.
One of the mentors was Charles Hazzard, senior advisor to the dean and clinical professor of organizations, strategy and international management. Hazzard said McCall distinguished herself by showing up for class open to new ideas and new ways of approaching challenges and opportunities.
“MeLinda stands out as one of the best of all those students, not just because of her high intelligence but also because of her attitude,” Hazzard said.
Another one of McCall’s mentors, Dr. David Springate, associate professor of finance and managerial economics and academic director of the Executive MBA Program, said that she sets a great example for others.
“One of her qualities is the ability to see that education and preparation can help in a big way,” Springate said. “MeLinda believes in education. She participated fully in class, she went through the Wildcatters program, she has visited as a speaker in class, and she stays in touch with professors. She gets the best from the entire mix.”
McCall continues to help others who strive to launch business careers. She is currently mentoring a student. Proxomo also brought in MBA and MS in finance interns from UT Dallas.
“We were really leaning on interns to help us,” McCall said. “UT Dallas has been very good to Proxomo.”
Even with help, entrepreneurship can be a rough business with slim odds of success.
“Good ideas are a dime a dozen, and successful entrepreneurs are less common,” said Dr. Joseph C. Picken, director of JSOM’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs and academic director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas.
McCall said she was inspired by her parents, who also launched successful businesses. Her mother sold some of the first generation of mobile phones. Her father has a photography business.
The Lucas resident has been running Proxomo and her HR consulting business while raising her own family. She and her husband, Jason McCall, celebrated their daughter’s first birthday when MeLinda joined Proxomo. Now, she’s 5. The McCalls welcomed their second daughter just after Proxomo secured a second round of angel funding. That daughter is now 19 months old.
McCall hopes her daughters will follow in her footsteps as leaders in a field that, in her opinion, too few women enter.
“I’ve got two beautiful girls, and hopefully they’ll be in technology,” McCall said.
McCall’s exit strategy provides her with a consulting contract during the transition and as needed going forward. What follows that is still up in the air. But for now, she and her husband are planning a getaway.
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