Two young entrepreneurs recently went head-to-head in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, a pitch competition hosted by Entrepreneurs’ Organization Austin in one of Square Root’s vibrant offices on Oakland Avenue. At stake was a chance to compete in an international round in Thailand for a $20,000 cash prize.
Regina Vatterott and Nathalie Phan met as teenagers in 2009. As acquaintances at St. Agnes Academy, each woman discovered entrepreneurship and the passions that would inspire their businesses.
Vatterott co-founded, a smart pill container that connects to smartphones and provides medication reminders. The container uses lights to indicate specific pills to take.
“Nathalie’s always been one of those people everyone admires for being really hard working,” Vatterott said of her opponent, who won the competition at Square Root. “We’re both happy with the outcome. She totally won, fair and square. It was a very positive experience.”
Phan is CEO of On Vinyl Media, a music and art collective that doubles as a low-cost music licensing service for businesses that want to feature local, independent artists who benefit from the exposure in exchange for leaner royalties.
Since launching in April last year, the service has covered more than 200 local artists on its blog and grown its staff to 16 of Phan’s fellow students, who work part time for equity. The plan is to begin distributing the artists' music on the platform when it launches.
"Regina has always been very well-spoken, sweet, and puts a charming edge to entrepreneurship,“ Phan said. ”Our relationship isn’t much different now. Unfortunately, we don’t have too many opportunities to collaborate because each of us is handling our own businesses while taking tough course loads, and our industries are so far apart that we don’t have many of the same connections."
Phan didn’t advance at the national competition in Miami yesterday, so Austin won’t be represented in the final round in Thailand.
But Austin GSEA Chair David Gatchell said a lot of the event’s value for applicants is the process itself.
“Nathalie and Regina both presented themselves extremely professionally,” he said. “Regardless of the outcomes, if a competitor is able to learn from the experience, I’d say they’ve already won.”
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