Tapping into SMU’s innovation ecosystem

Tapping business plan tips, a network of mentors and serious seed funding, startup-minded students aiming to transform their bold ideas into businesses get the edge they need to succeed.

Dallas night skyline

Ranked among the nation’s top entrepreneurial cities by Inc., WalletHub and others, Dallas offers a wealth of opportunities and resources for building businesses from the ground up.

Some students arrive on the Hilltop with a plan in mind. Others find that spark in a class, through a research project or even in a casual conversation over coffee.

When they decide to bring their vision to life, students can find step-by-step support. Across the campus, a multitude of experiential, academic and research resources provide a framework for entrepreneurial endeavors, while funding from grants and competitions get them off the ground.

Our network of alumni leaders, founders, innovators and creators stretches from coast to coast and across the globe. They’ve blazed new paths in tech, business and just about every other sector of the economy. As mentors, they provide guidance, share expertise, generate opportunities and cheer on students finding new ways to make an impact on the world.


Turning a brainstorm into a real business

Through Engaged Learning’s Big iDeas and the Incubator@SMU, students have access to mentors, programming and funding. Check out this video to hear from Jennifer Ebinger, director, and Camille McCallum, assistant director, about the ways students are already changing the world with their businesses.

Seun Suberu ’23 holding a large check for first prize ($73,825)

Seun Suberu ’23

Seun Suberu ’23 co-founded the CollegePlus app to help students take control of their future. Now it’s setting his direction, too. Over the past three years, Suberu has earned more than $85,000 in funding through multiple SMU competitions to fuel his startup.


Raleigh Dewan ’23

Raleigh Dewan ’23 took two things he was passionate about and put them together: Fighting human trafficking and brewing tea.

His company, Sister Shaq's Tea Company, is a packaged beverage company with teas that taste good and does good by supporting a mission to end human trafficking. Through the support and funds he received through SMU's Big iDeas competition and the Incubator, he is able to operate his business while still attending school full time.


Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club

Collaboration, connection and community are the calling cards of this campus organization focused on accelerating the success of entrepreneurial students.

Launching a passion project

The Office of Engaged Learning provides undergraduates with the tools and resources they need to connect a personal passion with academic learning in a signature work. Among recent student projects are a podcast for international students and a gourmet mushroom farm.


SMU alum connects tech and beauty

SMU alum Courtney Caldwell ’00, a former international marketing executive, and her husband Tye, an award-winning salon owner, are shaking up the salon industry with ShearShare, a B2B platform shaped for the gig economy. They recently closed a $2.3 million round of new funding. Hear how they transformed an analog solution to an age-old problem into the ShearShare app, matching independent beauty industry professionals with empty chairs in existing salons.

Bold move

Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11, founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., became the youngest woman in the U.S. to take a company public in February 2021. In this article from the SMU Magazine archives, she talks about her evolution as a tech powerhouse.

Breaking out on her own

From learning how to run a small business in a lumberyard at the age of 4 to managing more than a billion dollars before turning 40, Lacey Horn ’04, ’05 shares her Mustang journey and expert financial perspective.

Big D was innovating before it was cool. More than 60 years ago, Dallas became the birthplace of the integrated circuit, which would become the microchip. Today, we’re home to startup warriors, cyber defenders, biotech wizards and other innovators who think big and do good.

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