A Closer Look at the 2016 Student Startup Winner

Written by Sophie | May 2, 2016
Tags: Expo

SXSWedu 2016 student startup winner, Bru, photo by Erik Thureson

A 2016 highlight of the SXSWedu Expo was the Student Startup Competition. Four student teams made it to the final pitch competition on the NEXT Stage. The finalists were made up of the following teams: Beaut.e, Bru, ConnectMe, and WuHu. More about each of these teams can be found here. Each of these teams brought confidence and innovative ideas to the NEXT Stage.

The winner of the competition was the company Bru. Team Bru is made up of three Westlake High School students; Rohit Srinivasan in the 10th grade, Serene Hoskins in the 11th grade, and Sid Rao, also in the 11th grade. In one sentence the students described their platform as “an easy-to-use, inexpensive entrepreneurship app that helps anyone take an idea and turn it into a real company.” The members behind Bru won the $1,000 cash prize at the end of the competition. Browse through the interview questions below to get a better sense of what Team Bru is all about!:

How did Bru become a company?

Like many successful startups, we (the founders) experienced a problem and realized that others might have the same problem so we decided to create a solution. Specifically, in the past all of us have tried to start some sort of a commercial business or social venture but have found it challenging because of the lack of resources available to help us figure out how to be successful at it. From this, we realized that we needed better educational resources, a forum to ask questions and learn from each other and connect with experienced mentors which we concluded would be a great business idea in itself. And that is how Bru was born.

What are some goals of Bru?

When we were initially creating the concept of Bru and submitting it to the SXSWedu Student Startup Competition, our goal was pretty basic. We wanted to experience pitching an exciting idea at a top business plan competition. However, while competing at the SXSWedu Student Startup competition, we discovered the excitement and the demand for our solution from educators all over the world. Our mission became clearer and we are now eager to further develop our platform and content and help nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs from high schools and colleges all over the world.

Where do you hope to see your company in the next 5 years?

Moving forward we have many exciting plans for Bru. Though 5 years is a long time from now for us high schoolers, we hope to see Bru integrated into the curriculum for entrepreneurship education in high schools and colleges.

What was your experience like participating in the SXSWedu Student Startup Competition?

We had an amazing experience at the SXSWedu Student Startup Competition. Preparing to pitch the story, and the slide deck and then dealing with the challenging questions from real world judges was very educational and is unmatched by anything we could have learned in a classroom. Perhaps even more relevant for us and our idea, the competition allowed us to directly speak to educators and gain more market validation. The SXSWedu Student Startup Competition is simply one of the best learning experiences we have ever had.

Thanks Team Bru! It was a great experience having your team and the other finalists compete in the 2016 competition. Looking forward to exploring more creative ideas and solutions in 2017!