New Entrepreneurial Mentor Brett Hurt Brings Brain, Heart and Soul
McCombs students returning to class will be delighted to discover that this school year’s Herb Kelleher Entrepreneur-in-Residence (the fifth since 2010) is none other than Bazaarvoice vice chairman, former CEO, and co-founder Brett Hurt, BBA ’94. His arrival lends high-profile visibility to our innovation and creativity initiatives—and naturally, he’ll sport his own brand of entrepreneurial zest, to engage, inspire, and challenge students to their core.
That philosophy includes a passion for nourishing the employee culture of the companies he creates, thinking of the organization as having a brain, heart and soul. “At the end of the day it’s the people who are going to make the company successful,” Hurt told OPEN Magazine in 2011.
Hurt’s credentials as a business-builder are stellar, capped by his leadership of Bazaarvoice to a successful IPO in 2012, with a subsequent follow-on offering and two acquisitions. He recently served at Austin Ventures as a Venture Partner, focusing on early-stage software investing, and last week announced his own seed-stage venture capital firm, Hurt+Harbach.
Swing for the Fences
An alumnus well practiced at giving back to his community, Hurt was recently on campus to deliver the keynote address at the Texas MBA Class of 2015 Orientation.
He expressed his love for the Forty Acres, where his grandfather, James Mann Hurt, taught mathematics for his entire career, and described his satisfaction in joining entrepreneurs such as Red McCombs and Herb Kelleher in devoting time and resources to the school. His advice for entering students: set big goals, don’t play it too safe, and take calculated risks.
“You have nothing to lose at your age, so you should swing for the fences,” Hurt said. “Look at where the world is going, there are huge industries being transformed. Nothing is safe anymore, and everything is subject to disruption.”
Nourish Your Network
As a model of prolific disruption, Hurt started coding at age seven. He soaked up the real world experiences offered by his undergraduate MIS classes at McCombs, and launched his fourth business, Coremetrics, as a 25-year-old MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. As a student, he drew upon every advantage he could gain, including tapping into a nascent network of “diverse, intelligent, Type-A” peers and faculty members.
“I remember when Farhad Mohit, co-founder and CEO of BizRate, came to speak to us at Wharton,” Hurt recalled. “It was around 7:00 p.m., and only 20 students showed up. No one really knew who he was, but it was magical. Here was Farhad talking about how he had been eating ramen noodle for the past year, and now he had finally gotten his business funded. I still remember the raw humility of it all.”
In recounting this memory of a pivotal moment in his own preparation for business success, Hurt lays out a success strategy for McCombs students who desire to create advantages for themselves far beyond the classroom. I hope they are listening.
Welcome, Brett. And thank you, Professor John Sibley Butler for once again recruiting world-class entrepreneurial talent to The University of Texas at Austin.