Institution to be Exclusive Presenting Sponsor of CodeLaunch VII
Since opening in 2016, the UNT at Frisco campus has focused on building partnerships with the region’s business community. The school’s ongoing efforts are intended to benefit both its student population — with job-focused learning opportunities — as well as local businesses in one of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. and the heart of the DFW economic boom.
As part of these efforts, UNT at Frisco has been a key player in cultivating the North Texas entrepreneur and startup system. That’s why the campus is returning as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of CodeLaunch VII — the annual seed accelerator competition that brings the hottest startups to Frisco every summer.
“CodeLaunch is an invaluable asset to any and all entrepreneurs ,” said Mike Rondelli, associate vice president for innovation and commercialization at UNT at Frisco and a longtime entrepreneur. “Having a great business idea but lacking the capabilities to execute is a problem that CodeLaunch helps to solve.”
Jason W. Taylor, president and founder of Code Authority — the Frisco-based software development company that created CodeLaunch — agrees wholeheartedly. “ We developed CodeLaunch as a seed accelerator competition, tech trade show, startup conference, and networking event, all designed to give startups the boost they need to become successful .”
“And teaming up with UNT at Frisco is a perfect fit,” continued Taylor, “because of our common goal — supporting the startup community.”
Working Together for Startups
After serving as a judge for CodeLaunch VI in 2018, Mr. Rondelli wanted to ensure that UNT at Frisco was involved again in this year’s event. The school decided to participate in CodeLaunch VII, and recently became the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of the event.
“CodeLaunch is a better business plan competition than any of the other accelerators and incubators,” said Mr. Rondelli. “ Instead of providing cash to pay for needed services, CodeLaunch actually awards those critical seed services .”
In addition, Mr. Rondelli is mentoring students who want to apply to Codelaunch — helping them with their pitch deck, mockups, and overall sales pitch.
With regard to serving as a CodeLaunch judge, Mr. Rondelli stated that “ UNT recognized CodeLaunch as a rebirth of the business plan competition, and we saw the opportunity to become a sponsor in 2018 .” He continued: “ I had the honor to serve as a judge for last year’s competition, and I was amazed by the depth of quality of the finalists. This year, we’re focused on continuing our relationship with CodeLaunch, and getting more UNT students to apply. Additionally, we’re offering mentoring to our student applicants to ensure they’re ready for the highly competitive field of international applicants .”
In addition, Mr. Rondelli has advice to share with this year’s applicants: “ CodeLaunch continues to grow in recognition year after year. I advise every applicant to start early and think about why any company ever wins at anything; it’s not just an idea, but how that idea is conveyed to others — whether those are investors, customers, suppliers, employees, or for a competition .”
“ The slide deck for the application should be vetted by mentors to help refine the deck, so it answers the important questions: Why? Why this team? How does it make money? And how will it grow? ”
“ Also, it’s imperative to practice pitching until it’s second nature; so your enthusiasm is clear and the logic behind the investment is absolute. Nothing beats preparation .”
Further Connections: Inspire Frisco
In addition, UNT at Frisco recently chose to join the board of Inspire Frisco — a local network of advisors and mentors who provide resources, support, and connections to venture capital for regional entrepreneurs.
Code Authority is on the board of Inspire Frisco, and Mr. Rondelli serves as one of the network’s primary mentors. They attend every meeting and work to develop mutually beneficial relationships between all startups. Also, UNT at Frisco offers mentoring sessions for IF members.
“ UNT is proud to be part of Inspire Frisco as it continues to expand its services across Frisco and the entire North Texas region ,” said Mr. Rondelli. “ We got involved early because we recognized that Frisco offers a unique circumstance of people, access to capital and an engaged corporate culture that makes Frisco the epicenter for growing the innovation ecosystem in the region .”
“ We see Inspire Frisco as a catalyst to change the very fiber of our economy; engaging students, employees, large corporations and entrepreneurs to grow together, to feed off each other’s successes and grow the entire region together .”
Putting Down Roots in Frisco
Currently, UNT at Frisco’s home is located at Inspire Park. But the school announced that it will be opening a brand-new campus in 2022, to be located on Preston Road in North Frisco.
In addition, they’re launching a new business/entrepreneur-based degree program, aimed at preparing students who want to build their own business.
Building a Brighter Future Together
Together, UNT at Frisco and Code Authority are demonstrating their dedication to both startups and the North Texas business community.
“ UNT Frisco is committed to innovation across the university, by both helping students as well as transferring technology from our faculty’s research into startup companies ,” said Mr. Rondelli. “ We’ve developed mentoring programs to help startups advance quickly with less chance of failure. Also, we’re working with several venture funds to build access to funding critical to startup success .”
Mr. Taylor added: “ We made a bold statement and commitment to the national startup ecosystem by opening participation in CodeLaunch to lots of professional software development teams. This model for supporting very early-stage tech startups is game-changing, and we’re proud to be a part of it — thanks to help from organizations like UNT at Frisco .”
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