Karate Champ Targets Art of Starting Own Business After Graduation
May 16, 2014
Tom Scott (left), competing at the 2011 Pan American championships in Guadalajara, Mexico, hopes to start his own karate school after he graduates with a master's degree in innovation and entrepreneurship from the Jindal School.
On campus, he’s Tom Scott.
But in the ring, they call him Captain America.
The Naveen Jindal School of Management student earned that nickname as a fierce competitor on Team USA Karate. Scott, a second-degree black belt from Richardson, has racked up dozens of titles at national and world championships.
Karate has taken the elite athlete to competitions around the world. It’s also what led him to UT Dallas.
Scott, 23, will graduate Saturday with a master's degree in innovation and entrepreneurship to help him launch another dream: opening his own karate school. Scott now teaches at Collin College and the Academy of Classical Karate in Plano.
At the Jindal School, Scott took courses in entrepreneurship, startups and sales — all while competing across the globe. He was at the Wado World Championships in London in October and the World Games in Colombia just before the fall semester started.
Dr. Joseph C. Picken, professor and director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programs, said Scott’s credentials will give him an edge in an important area: finding a niche that few others can fill.
“He’s done a remarkable job of balancing international travel — heavy international travel — with school work,” said Picken.
“He’s told me that he’s had this dream for a long, long time of teaching advanced level karate, and felt like he could convert that into a business somewhere down the line, but didn’t realize how much he didn’t know until he began to take some of these courses,” Picken said. “He told us it helped him quite a bit.”
The innovation and entrepreneurship program emphasizes the need to validate business ideas and to learn the skills to effectively manage a venture.
“He’s done a remarkable job of balancing international travel — heavy international travel — with school work.”
Picken teaches that even the best ideas will not work unless entrepreneurs learn enough about the process to avoid making mistakes. Scott developed and analyzed his business idea in a startup launch class, which requires students to test their ideas by conducting market research, including interviews with prospective customers.
“This process makes an individual aware of the significant time and personal commitment it takes to get a new venture of any kind started,” said senior lecturer Dan Bochsler, who teaches the course. “It is hard work, but the challenge is always worth it.”
Hard work does not scare Scott, who is used to training for five hours a day leading up to competitions.
Scott took his first martial arts class at the Academy of Classical Karate when he was 8. He loved it so much he stopped playing other sports. He earned his black belt when he was 16.
At age 18, Scott joined Team USA. He earned a second-degree black belt when he was 19. Karate has been sanctioned as an Olympic sport, but it has not yet been included in the games.
Master's in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Students can choose between two concentrations — new ventures or innovation within the corporation. The program has been recognized as a 2014 National Model Master's Program by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. read more
“I love the challenge of competing,” said Scott, who has had at least six broken noses by his count plus plenty of pulled muscles and bruises to show for it.
Now that he has earned his master’s degree, Scott hopes to move forward with his business dreams.
But first, he’s got a competition to win. The next stop is Peru, where Scott will compete in the Panamerican Karate Federation championships this month.
“I am very thankful for my time spent at UT Dallas and with my instructors,” Scott said. “I am confident that I now have what it takes to accomplish what I want to get done in the near future.”