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Something Ventured, a Whole Lot Gained

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Brumleys with Powers

Jon and Becky Brumley with President Bill Powers

Entrepreneurs, take note. Texas Venture Labs at the McCombs School of Business is now Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, in recognition of a gift of more than $6 million from Fort Worth businessman and entrepreneur Jon Brumley. “This investment is a game changer that enables us to expand the scale and accessibility of the Texas Venture Labs model,” says Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School.

Since it started two years ago, Texas Venture Labs (TVL) has worked with 40 companies that have raised more than $25 million in investment capital, while providing direct entrepreneurial experience to graduate students in business, engineering, law, and natural sciences. TVL is a campuswide initiative with two missions: to accelerate startups from UT and Central Texas toward raising capital and taking their innovations to market, and to create an experience that transforms UT graduate students into future entrepreneurs and business leaders. Teams of four to six students interact closely with entrepreneurs and investors to make an immediate and direct impact.

“Texas Venture Labs is a gem in the Texas entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Brumley says. “It provides critical, hands-on experience for aspiring entrepreneurs who learn as students the effort required to get a new venture through the financing process. For me, this gift is an opportunity to build our capacity to grow the economy of Texas, while giving a leg up to young entrepreneurs, who remind me a lot of myself at that age.”

In addition to the TVL course, the organization is home to the Venture Labs Investment Competition, formerly Moot Corp. The winner of this year’s international competition, held in May, was NuMat Technologies, a clean energy company formed by students from Northwestern University. “Our theme for the investment competition is ‘Investor-Ready,’ which reflects why graduate students from around the world flock to Austin every spring for the chance to launch their business as they finish graduate school,” says TVL director Rob Adams. Brumley’s gift, Adams says, “has signaled to the entrepreneurial community that Texas Venture Labs is also ‘Investor-Ready.’ ”

Brumley, the chairman and CEO of Fort Worth’s Bounty Investments, has worked for, founded, and acquired several successful companies, including Southland Royalty Co., XTO Energy, and Mesa Petroleum. He also led the merger of Fort Worth’s two children’s hospitals in 1985. He has served as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education and remains active in educational causes. He and his wife, Becky, started a foundation that works with young children in Fort Worth. The program, which encourages parents to read aloud to their children, has given away 350,000 books.

The Austin native enrolled at UT in 1957, the same year, he notes, that Coach Darrell Royal arrived on campus. “We beat OU my sophomore year, and the football program has steadily improved—as has my degree,” he says. “My experience at UT and McCombs was wonderful. I majored in fraternity the first two years and got serious the last two years. McCombs gets better and better, which actually makes me look kind of smart.”

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