A $1 Million Boost to UT’s Venture Culture

San Antonio entrepreneur and investor Billy Freed and family donate to support students’ business efforts at Texas McCombs.

Texas McCombs
Texas McCombs News

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William “Billy” Freed, BBA ’81

Adding fuel to The University of Texas at Austin’s startup engine, alumnus William “Billy” Freed, BBA ’81, and his family have given $1 million to the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center in the McCombs School of Business.

The gift establishes the Freed Family Entrepreneurship Excellence Fund and endows the Freed Family Pitch Competition, previously called DisrupTexas. Freed’s wife Cheryl, BA ’82, JD ’84; sons Tyler, BS ’17, and Russell, BBA ’21; and daughter-in-law Leslie Lugrin Freed, BS ’17, took part in this gift.

“The Kelleher Center is deeply grateful to Billy Freed and his family for their generous support of the startup community at UT,” said Luis Martins, the center’s director and Texas McCombs professor of management. “With this gift, countless students will find the inspiration, know-how and capital to take their bold ideas to market.”

A serial entrepreneur in San Antonio for more than 30 years, Freed has served as president, principal or co-founder of numerous businesses. He is currently principal of Nueces Marketing Partners Ltd., a diversified investment partnership with interests in consumer products, energy services, technology and telecommunications. The company also holds a substantial real estate portfolio.

“Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Freed, who earned a marketing degree from Texas McCombs. “These ambitious students depend on the support and advice of experienced faculty members, industry mentors and investors. My family and I hope this endowment will encourage more young people to step up with fresh business ideas, and that those ventures will have room to grow.”

The Freed Family Pitch Competition endowment will support an annual event open to all UT undergraduate students. Teams vie for cash and prizes as expert judges critique their 10-minute pitch presentations, asking questions and offering vital feedback to help the emerging companies hone their business strategies.

The new Freed Family Entrepreneurship Excellence Fund will power other efforts of the Kelleher Center, including a pre-accelerator program, networking events, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student founders to collaborate.

“UT attracts some of the brightest, most innovative students in the world — young people poised to tackle the crucial problems of our time. With this gift to the Kelleher Center, the Freed family helps connect these entrepreneurial minds with the people and resources to realize their ideas,” said Texas McCombs Dean Lillian Mills. “I’m excited to see what solutions our students will find, thanks to this bold investment in their talents.”

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Texas McCombs
Texas McCombs News

News, business research, and ideas from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Learn more at www.mccombs.utexas.edu