TCU MBAs Score VC Funding for Tech Startup

Paul Pieniadz and Christopher Fanchi
TCU is an environment ripe with entrepreneurial opportunities. A prime example is the Bill Shaddock Venture Capital Fund Pitch Competition, sponsored four times a year by the Entrepreneurship Center at TCU’s Neeley School of Business. During each of the four pitch days, student-led start-ups have the chance to receive $10,000 in start-up grants, without forfeiting equity.

Among this round's presenters, Professional MBA students Paul Pieniadz and Christopher Fanchi made a strong impression on the grant review commission. So strong, in fact, that Paul and Christopher were able to secure $5,000 in funding for their company, Tempus Analytics, and the further development of its flagship product, TradeJester.

What is TradeJester? Paul and Christopher describe this mobile app as “the Xbox/PlayStation of active trading.” By applying concepts from gaming — specifically, fantasy sports — to sophisticated, automated analysis of market data, TradeJester allows users to trade stocks in a virtual and risk-free environment.

phone stocksTradeJester is designed to be intuitive and quick to engage, but it’s also an educational tool that has the potential to make a significant social impact. “Currently, only 33 percent of millennials are involved in the stock market, mostly through passive investing, and only 18 percent of 18 to 25 year olds are involved. Our TradeJester platform encourages millennials to get involved in the stock market and to take great control of their financial destiny,” say the founders.

Paul and Christopher each acknowledge that their TCU experience was instrumental to TradeJester’s success in making it through the rigorous Shaddock Venture Capital vetting process. Paul says his MBA coursework taught him to “speak the language of finance.” Christopher further credits Neeley’s entrepreneurship curriculum for helping him to develop that “innovation-oriented mindset that’s so crucial to driving a business to success.”

The duo says the emphasis on strategy and generative disruption in their MBA courses gave them an edge when it came time to make their pitch. “We had just completed our first game for the TradeJester platform called the Earnings Game,” they recalled. “We were able to demo this successfully, which gave us more credibility than other groups that were still simply in the exploratory phase. We demonstrated that we could use Shaddock’s capital to expand our current product and attract a user base, whereas most groups proposed using funding to build the product they were selling.”

What’s next for Tempus Analytics? Paul and Christopher plan on dedicating their $5,000 award to expand their technological capacity, both in hardware and software. They also plan to purchase access to non-publicly available market data in order to add value to TradeJester offerings. Their ultimate goal is “to position ourselves as the premier fantasy stock trading platform in the United States.”

Both Paul and Christopher are aware that the key to achieving that goal is applying the lessons learned from their MBA with skill, imagination and persistence. When asked about what benefits entrepreneurs might realize from pursuing an MBA, Paul and Christopher point out that “many start-ups now are pursuing business models where monetization, revenue drivers and value-creation is not so simple and straightforward. Most new start-ups, like us, are mainly dependent on outside capital to propel the business until monetization becomes achievable. For that reason, having an MBA mindset is crucial when pursuing entrepreneurship in technical fields where the core competencies of the business are intellectually driven.”

Learn more about how an MBA from TCU can provide you with the tools you’ll need to establish your own business by visiting the Neeley School of Business School website.


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