September 25, 2018

September 25, 2018


Startup Skills Help Earn Students Business Hall of Fame Scholarships

UT Dallas students Kiran Devaprasad, Brian Harris and Kamiar Kordi were awarded Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarships.

From left: UT Dallas business graduate students Kamiar Kordi, Brian Harris and Kiran Devaprasad were awarded Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarships.

Being born into an entrepreneurially minded family is not a prerequisite for business and academic success, but it’s certainly helped Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate students Kiran Devaprasad, Brian Harris and Kamiar Kordi.

All three come from families that have forged startup firms, and now they have gravitated toward the same type of risk-taking initiative modeled by relatives.

That initiative has helped them earn Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation scholarships worth $15,000 each.

The organization honored scholarship recipients on Oct. 27 at a gala in San Antonio, where students were able to rub elbows with business legends including billionaire investor Warren Buffett, one of the inductees into the Texas Business Hall of Fame this year.

Twenty-five Texas colleges and universities participate in the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation’s scholarship program. This year, the UT Dallas scholarships are sponsored by the Mitchell Family Foundation.

“For me, what planted the seed of entrepreneurship was being taught a sense of accomplishment,” Devaprasad said. “I realized that my father and uncle work hard, and their destiny was determined primarily by their own actions and not based on somebody else’s assessment of their worth.”

Devaprasad, who is pursuing dual degrees in the Executive MBA program and the MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, will use his scholarship earnings to grow TraceIT — a startup he created with EMBA classmate William White. Their system tracks drivers and loads in the car- and truck-hauling industry.

Kamiar Kordi and Warren Buffett

Graduate student Kamiar Kordi (left) met billionaire investor Warren Buffett at the Texas Business Hall of Fame awards ceremony.

Like Devaprasad, Harris was influenced by his family. His father and grandfather started their own construction business when he was young. That, along with his love of nature, instilled the idea of working for himself, which led him to start a fly-fishing business.

Harris said the idea of working for himself was something he had always longed for. The proceeds from Harris’ scholarship will help expand Blanco Farms Exotic Mushrooms, a business that evolved from a hobby.

“If I were to offer someone advice, I would say that successful entrepreneurs don’t hesitate,” Harris said. “They take opportunities to make it real. Don’t just sit back and think about ideas. I grew some mushrooms, took them to a restaurant and put them in a chef’s hands. I found out their needs. That’s how I made it concrete.”

Wanting to start a business the right way, Harris enrolled in the BS in Business Administration program and the MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fast-Track program. Then he entered MSIE’s Startup Launch Track. This allowed him to test his concept. It was so successful that he was awarded $5,000 in seed funding. Now the proceeds from his scholarship will help expand the business.

Kordi’s parents had emigrated from Iran to Dallas and started an ice cream truck business. He got to tag along from the age of six months, and as he grew older he got more directly involved in the family business.

Kordi ran with those early lessons. Currently working on his MS in finance, he will use his scholarship award to start a couple of tech companies including a nonprofit, value-added organization with multiple services that facilitate voters’ involvement in the democratic process. Those services feature Policentric — a mobile app by which constituents can send correspondence to their representatives, monitor their replies and response rates, and check up on their legislation.

“The main purpose of the Policentric app is to hold candidates accountable for the policy decisions they pursue,” said Kordi. “There’s so much anger in society that’s coming to a boiling point, and I wanted to provide a means by which voters can make decisions based on [rational thought] and logic rather than angry rhetoric.”

Media Contact: Jimmie Markham, Naveen Jindal School of Management, (972) 883-5079, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]

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