News & Events | Neeley in the News
Here is a brief look at some of the recent news stories that featured Neeley students, staff and faculty. For a complete look at Neeley in the News, check out In the News Archives.
May 22, 2017
Ventures with Values – by Scott Nishimura
One TCU student’s memories
of chronic illness and hospital stays leads to a startup that wants to bring
virtual reality programming into children’s hospitals, helping patients cope
with pain, anxiety and depression.
As an elementary school
student, Christine Clutterbuck was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a painful,
chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In and out of the hospital for two years,
during which she underwent several surgeries, Clutterbuck, now a TCU senior,
has been symptom-free since she was 12.
“It just kind of stuck with me,” Clutterbuck,
who graduated from Grapevine High School and is due to graduate in December
from TCU’s Neeley School of Business, says. “I couldn’t stay in
school longer than two weeks. I had allergies to foods. I would get extremely
sick for no reason.” Of the hospital stays, and the isolation of the
experience, she says, “It’s such a depressing environment. My family couldn’t
be there all the time because of work. It makes it very difficult to see the
light at the end of the tunnel.”
No wonder then that the experience
served as fodder for Clutterbuck, who registered last fall for a class on
starting a business. Taking advantage of opportunities created by burgeoning
virtual reality, Clutterbuck wanted to create content that would ease pain,
anxiety and depression among for patients in children’s hospitals.
“The original idea was storytelling,
possibly animated,” says Mathew Debilio, a Neeley senior who grew up in an
entrepreneurial family in Southern California and is one of two partners who
came on board with Clutterbuck. “You’d be sitting in a forest, and
the story would be going on around you.”
To develop video, “we envisioned
partnering with a developer,” says Kendall Records, a Neeley senior from Sugarland and the
third partner in the venture, called Relievr. But that route would
have been too expensive. “We had no way to pay for it, to bootstrap it,”
Records says. “It was out of our price range.”
So the idea evolved into an open
source platform, with existing content provided by third parties that would be
paid per view. “That opens it up,” Debilio says.
Clutterbuck, Debilio and Records
obtained a camera from TCU and spent three months shooting and producing mock
video. They spent one Saturday in January shooting video of two people dressed
as princesses. They shot another video of singing and storytelling. They taped
pictures of basketballs on seats at TCU’s Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena and produced
a 360-view “I Spy” piece. “There’s a deeper level of distraction” with 3D,
Debilio says. The three shot TCU’s annual Christmas tree lighting. Debilio shot
pictures during a winter road trip from Southern California to Portland.
Clutterbuck also shot pictures and video during a trip to Peru.
The idea: to give children an escape
from the hospital.
The three contacted Cook Children’s
Medical Center, where Clutterbuck had been treated as a child and where she
hadn’t returned for a visit in 10 years, and have been working with the Fort
Worth hospital’s child life specialists since the fall.
They’ve been running focus groups with
the Cook Children’s Youth Advisory Council, also known as the YAC-PAC, a group
of 20 current and former patients as old as 18. “They are there to be the voice
of patients,” Clutterbuck says.
With the “I Spy” content, “they
immediately caught the destination piece of it,” Clutterbuck says. One
9-year-old patient confided, “When she feels anxious, she goes to Google Maps
so she can feel like she’s outside the hospital,” Debilio says. Clutterbuck: “We’ve
been trying to get to that age again,” to better understand patients.
Patients told Clutterbuck, Debilio and
Records, “‘I want to go see my friends’ birthday parties,’” Clutterbuck says. “‘I
want to see my home.’ The kids would love to see the education piece, what this
disease is doing to their body. It’s an extremely powerful technology that has
so much therapeutic value behind it.”
The feedback on experiences outside
the hospital that the children miss during their stays gave Clutterbuck,
Debilio and Records an idea for another revenue stream: content customized for
specific patients. “We’re not capable of doing that ourselves,” Clutterbuck
says. “But what if we were able to partner” with a vendor?
Content would be streamed through a
mobile app that Clutterbuck, Debilio and Records plan to develop. Smartphones
with the app would slip into virtual reality headsets. The team is using Google
Cardboard headsets, which cost $15 apiece, or two for $25. “We’re going to try
to work with Google,” Records says.
As for outside content, the trio
pitched the idea to the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks and drew interest,
they said. An idea for customized content: drop a camera into the Cowboys’
AT&T Stadium during a game, ask game-goers to cheer for a patient in the
hospital, and “maybe [the patient] gets to see the game,” Debilio says. Among
other potential content partners: Disneyland, Debilio says.
Michael Sherrod, a serial entrepreneur and the William M. Dickey
Entrepreneur in Residence at the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center, is high on the potential being created by advances
in virtual and augmented reality. He believes the potential for partnerships
with content providers like the Walt Disney Co. and Marvel. He also believes
Relievr can expand into other markets besides children’s hospitals. “It’s a
wonderful business; there are other markets,” he says.
Relievr’s potential revenue streams,
as they’ve evolved, include selling branding on the headsets, charging a price
per view that hospitals would pay, and charging fees to collaborate on
The Relievr team briefly considered
putting its content on YouTube, which pays 7 to 8 cents per thousand views. “But
there’s no way to censor those ads,” Records says. “We’ve kind of moved away
The trio’s work so far has won them TCU’s spot in TCU’s annual
international Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures® Business Plan
Competition, held in late April in
Fort Worth. (Relievr was not one of the nine teams among the 51 entries that
advanced to the finals.) Relievr earlier received a $1,500 grant for research
from the Shaddock
Venture Capital Fund that benefits TCU students.
IBM has expressed interest in becoming
a partner, the team says. And just before Values and Ventures, the team received what it’s
calling “an early verbal commitment” from Sony as a potential partner,
announcing that development during its Values and Ventures presentation.
Sony, among other things, makes
smartphones and PlayStation game consoles and has a virtual reality gaming
system for PlayStation. The company’s library includes content for PlayStation
and Columbia Pictures, owned by Sony. Sony has been aggressively developing its
virtual reality portfolio. Another big potential value-add that a Sony
partnership could provide, Clutterbuck says: Smartphones.
A partnership with Sony “would just
put us in a very unique position,” Clutterbuck said after Relievr’s Values and
The team is seeking $125,000 in
first-stage funding to build its app, put it into work in Cook Children’s for
pilot research and prove the concept. “It’s down to find the right partner,”
Production of VR content today is
hindered by “temperamental” camera technology, with problems in the 360 view
and lighting, Debilio says. “We’re almost waiting on the technology to catch
up,” he says.
How does the company evolve after the
three students graduate from TCU? Debilio and Records, both 22, are graduating
in May, and Debilio has a job in sales for IBM that starts in August, giving
them the summer to ramp the company up, Debilio says. But even after that, “we’re
all planning on staying in the area,” Records says.
Social entrepreneurship appeals. “I
really want to make the world a better place,” she says. Debilio, whose
grandfather founded a food distributorship and father eventually took the
company over, says, “I was always looking for some way to have an impact,” and
Relievr “clicked with me.”
Proposal to sell half of the U.S.
strategic oil reserves – by Mitch Carr
Dr. Ed Ireland, energy professor at the Neeley School of Business at
Texas Christian University, discussed the controversial proposal to sell half
of the 700 million barrels of oil in the strategic oil reserve. Ireland said it
was a good idea. We don’t need the strategic petroleum reserve any more. We are
no longer relying on foreign oil the way we did when the reserve was
established more than 40 years ago. Its usefulness has come and gone.”
May 30, 2017
4 Qualities to Show During MBA
Interviews – by Ilana Kowarski
It’s hard to succeed in business if you lack the ability to sell
yourself. That’s one reason why experts say MBA interviews are a
critical component of the admissions process.
“We have had cases where an interview evaluation tipped the
scales one way or another,” says Soojin Kwon, admissions director with the Ross
School of Business at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor.
She says a strong interview evaluation has occasionally changed
her mind about an applicant and caused her to shift an application from the
“no” pile to the “yes” pile. But she also says that a poor interview evaluation
– in rare cases – can lead to a rejection.
Face-to-face communication skills are crucial in the business
world, Kwon says; but those skills are hard to measure in the written
components of the MBA application, so the interview is key.
Peggy Conway, director of MBA
admissions with the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian
University, says she cannot imagine accepting an MBA applicant without
interviewing him or her first.
Conway says she uses
interviews to gauge not only whether an MBA applicant would thrive at the
Neeley School of Business but also what kind of impression an applicant would
make on future colleagues and employers.
“We want students who are
going to make an impact,” Conway says.
The MBA interview also offers insight into how
applicants think and what they care about, says Chad Losee, managing director
of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School.
“We don’t feel that people need to come in with a life plan
already mapped out, but we do like to get a sense for how people think about
the decisions that they make,” Losee says.
He says MBA applicants who are anxious about the interview
process should do their best to relax before the interview by perhaps taking a
run or walk, eating comfort food or meditating. “Whatever it is, just make sure
you feel as at ease as possible,” Losee says.
“I think that’s good advice. And know that on our end, we’re
real people. We’re not trying to trick you. We’re just trying to get to know
you as well as we can.”
U.S. News asked MBA admissions officers to describe key traits
applicants displayed during interviews that made lasting impressions. Here are
four qualities that resonated with the interviewers.
1. Clarity: Applicants
who are able to explain their work eloquently to alumni interviewers in other
industries often get rave reviews, Kwon says.
For instance, a Ross MBA applicant who was a military
veteran received a glowing evaluation for his interview because of his
ability to share with his civilian interviewer the lessons he learned during
his military experience, she says.
“Oftentimes, candidates think that they have to have this
monumental achievement in order to impress the admissions committee, and it’s
not about the size,” Kwon says. “We’re trying to understand how you think about
things and how you think about yourself.”
2. Self-awareness: Applicants
stand out in MBA interviews when they offer thoughtful reflection about their
career, Kwon says.
“It’s being able to have perspective about the things that you’ve
done and the import of those things, because there’s value in everything that
an applicant might have done in their career,” she says. “It’s knowing how that
translates into something that will be valuable in your business school
experience, in life and in work.”
3. Humility: Business
school leaders say they appreciate it when MBA applicants acknowledge
mistakes when they’re asked a question about past failures.
“I don’t think you’re ever penalized for being open and honest
with that question,” says Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBX, Harvard
Business School’s online education platform.
Mullane recommends applicants be natural. He says dodging
questions, rather than answering them honestly, during MBA interviews also
Kari Graham, director of graduate admissions at the University
of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, says some of the most poignant
interviews she’s conducted are ones where MBA applicants described the wisdom
they gained from mistakes.
“Those are usually the things that make us better people and
hopefully better students,” Graham says.
4. A personal connection: Showing emotions during an interview isn’t a
sign of weakness and could, when real and appropriate, help applicants make
meaningful connections with interviewers, experts say.
Graham says she has encountered MBA applicants who cried when
describing the profound impact a mentor had on their lives or discussing
adversity they have overcome.
“I’ve had people really, literally come to tears in my office,” she
says. “What’s so beautiful about that is that really breaks down barriers, and
it connects us profoundly emotionally to one another.”
David Simpson, admissions director at the London Business
School, says that a great MBA interview goes beyond discussing an applicant’s
“A poor interview is one that just restates facts that could
have come from the application form,” Simpson says. “A good interview adds