Meet the Finalists Pitching at the Big Idea Competition

It’s back! The UT Dallas Big Idea Competition is back and bigger than ever. 20 startup founders are competing for over $350,000 in cash and scholarship prizes at the university’s largest startup pitch competition. Below are the students, alumni, and researchers competing in the 4 categories that make up this year’s competition. Let’s meet them:

Watch the awards ceremony in person or live streamed on November 9 at 4 pm. Registration is required. Visit to learn more.

Student Track

  • Forgot or Knot – Jason Hendricks, MS’22
    Forgot or Knot creates a memorable gift experience that deepens customers’ relationships with their family, friends, and/or clients.

  • Food Magnet – Mercedes Johnson, MBA’23
    Food Magnet is the Uber of the food truck world. Whether you need to book a truck for an event, find a quick bite to eat, or if you’re a truck looking for new business, Food Magnet is here to help!

  • Bonsai – Shashank Vinay Kumar, BS’22
    Bonsai is redefining the future of customer engagement through personalized, lightning-fast AI ticket resolution and accelerated lead generation for all sales and customer support teams

  • Bright Owl Tutoring – Sofia Babool, BS’22
    Bright Owl helps parents and students access affordable, virtual, high-quality tutoring.

Alumni Track

  • HERMTAC – Kevin Patel, BS’06 & MBA’10
    HERMTAC designs antimicrobial bespoke telehealth case systems for Veterans Affairs various clinical use cases as they transition to a field and home-based primary care first model.

  • Nuooly – Rosalie Robinson, MS’15
    Nuooly is an exclusive community uniting and empowering Independent Professionals to unlock their full potential.  We target Independent Professionals who are business-focused and have 8+ years of experience in their field (lawyers, accountants, etc.).

  • Tangible Intelligence –  Matt Coburn, BS’13 and Austin Howard, MS’09 & PhD’14
    Tangible Intelligence creates Business as a Service offerings. Services and tools are purpose built to solve your business’s rote and mundane work, freeing your workforce to focus on innovation and creativity, and unleash the true value of your company and your team.

Research Commercialization Track

  • Phinomics, Inc –Massa Shoura, BS’10, MS’10, PhD’13, & PhD’15
    Phinomics is a biotechnology company that brings circular-DNA-based technologies to the cancer-diagnostics/therapeutics and immunogenomics markets.

  • Qualia Oto – Benedict Voit, BS’08
    Qualia Oto uniquely designs hydrolytically stable, softening polymers with a more biocompatible surface to improve the lives of individuals through better hearing assistance.

  • GrapheneTX, Inc – Duck Yang, Department of Chemistry
    GrapheneTX offers aminated graphene (AG) powders with different particle size and nitrogen content. This eco-friendly method of production allows for these materials to be produced at a large scale.