December 18, 2018

December 18, 2018


Budding Entrepreneurs Earn Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarships

Andrew Brown and Omeed Shams

Andrew Brown MS'16 (left) and Omeed Shams

Three students from the Naveen Jindal School of Management have each won a $15,000 scholarship from the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation. Recipients were selected based on their entrepreneurial aspirations, leadership qualities and academic credentials.

Omeed Shams, an innovation and entrepreneurship graduate student, Rachel L. Hugo, a senior in healthcare management, and Vijay Bhagvath, a senior in finance, were selected for the honor this year. They plan to use the funding to pay for school, invest in their respective startups or both.

The winners will attend the organization’s scholarship luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 1, where they will be presented with their awards, named for Cinemark founder and chairman Lee Roy Mitchell. That evening, they will attend an induction ceremony for incoming hall of fame honorees, a black-tie gala that will afford them the opportunity to network with Texas Business Hall of Fame Legends, including Mitchell.

Following His Kwest

Shams is co-founder and CEO of Kwest, a mobile app that offers interactive guided tours. His business partner, Andrew Brown MS’16, conceived the app, which helps visitors navigate unfamiliar locations through a combination of augmented reality, geolocation, riddles and puzzles.

“We’re pivoting and building a new platform, so it was very timely, not to mention the recognition — the access to the (Texas Business Hall of Fame) network I would say is invaluable,” Shams said.

Kwest, which launched in 2015, takes up much of Shams’ time. He said he has “taken the slow track” in finishing his master’s degree and plans to graduate in fall 2018. Madison Pedigo, director of the MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the Jindal School, suggested that he apply for the scholarship.

In conjunction with his studies, Shams has taken advantage of the robust business startup programs available to UT Dallas students, alumni, faculty and staff through the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE). He has worked closely with Bryan Chambers, director of Blackstone LaunchPad, and others at IIE.

Rachel Hugo

Rachel Hugo

Health Care in Her Heart

Hugo, whose entrepreneurial background includes starting two companies — a real estate investment business and The Lost Toys, a vintage toy shop, will use the award to pay for graduate school. She plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in May and has begun the fast-track MS in Healthcare Leadership and Management program.

“The funds from the scholarship will make a huge difference for me,” Hugo said. “Now I will be able to go straight through and start grad school immediately.”

Having lost her husband to illness, Hugo was inspired and comforted by the professionalism of the medical personnel who cared for him during that trying time and offered her “a buoy of support.” The challenges she faced helped her find her calling, which “is to help others receive the care which so greatly helped me,” she said.

Her long-term goal is to open a concierge medical service to deliver health care to patients via a combination of telemedicine and home visits, which will require building a network of professional contacts.

“A fundamental aspect of success is who you know and how you interact with them,” Hugo said. “Getting access to the Texas Business Hall of Fame network is kind of an adrenaline shot. Anybody who’s in there is in there for a reason and has a lot to offer. Hopefully, I will eventually have a lot to offer them, too.”

Blend of Experiences

In past years, the scholarships were available only to graduate students — preferably MBA students. A few years ago, the scholarship committee expanded the applicant pool to include undergraduate juniors and seniors.

For Bhagvath, business and academic experiences played key roles in securing his scholarship as an undergraduate.

Vijay Bhagvath

Vijay Bhagvath

Last summer, he worked as a private equity intern for Texas Business Hall of Fame inductee and former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks at Hicks Equity Partners. He also worked as a founding venture capital analyst for UT Dallas Seed Fund, an IIE program that invests in technology startups. In that position, he collaborated with Chambers and Alex Treece, faculty advisor for the Seed Fund and director of the Professional Program in Finance (PPF), to select promising startups for funding.

Treece advised Bhagvath, who is in the PPF program, to apply for the scholarship.

“Vijay is one of those students who is easy to recommend anywhere,” Treece said. “He works extremely hard, has a very diverse range of experiences and continually elevates the game of those around him. I can’t think of a student who is more deserving of this reward.”

Bhagvath’s entrepreneurial pursuits have involved working with a business partner to develop a longboard that converts into a skateboard. He also co-founded and co-created Snapp’n Save, an app that helps college students find deals from nearby restaurants and stores. The app had a successful beta launch on the Apple Store but was scrapped so that Bhagvath could better pursue his passion for investment banking.

Like Shams and Hugo, he plans to remain in Texas to pursue a career — another requirement to win the scholarship.

“I really like the fact that this scholarship program is for entrepreneurship and helping improve the Texas economy,” Bhagvath said. “It’s an honor to be a part of the Texas Business Hall of Fame with all of the greats who have done so much for our state.”

The Texas Business Hall of Fame was formed in 1982 to honor outstanding business leaders in Texas and to inspire the leaders of the future by funding scholarships that help recipients pursue their business educations in Texas schools. 

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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