Austin Butler, '14

Austin Butler, '14

May 1, 2014
Senior sets out to define entrepreneurship and lands at TEDxRVA

Austin Butler, ’14, lost his father to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis the week of his high school graduation four years ago. Shortly thereafter, he made a decision: “I live my life with intention.”

Butler explained, “The intentions I’ve defined for myself are as follows: do something good for at least one person each day, remember everything for which I’m grateful twice a day, and connect people in any way I can. If I do at least these three things daily, I know I am living my life to the fullest,” he shared. This choice informs every decision he makes.

Butler added, “I chose to attend the University of Richmond because as a distinguished school that was close to home, I knew I could be there for my family while also receiving an incredible education. Richmond was my first choice, so when I received the phone call from the admissions office, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

Upon arriving at the University, Butler dove into campus life in order to continue living with intention. He joined Subject to Change Improv and WDCE Radio and started the Richmond Pulmonary Association in memory of his father. In addition, he took a multitude of classes across several disciplines.

“After a year I decided I needed to declare a major, so I began designing the interdisciplinary studies in entrepreneurial business major. Upon poring over the entire course catalog I chose the classes that would be most applicable to my studies.” The courses included all the Robins School of Business’ core classes, those in the entrepreneurship track and several advanced classes from each department within the Robins School, as well as classes in philosophy, theatre and psychology among others.

His interest in entrepreneurship led him to pursue paths beyond the classroom, founding Uhubb LLC, an online marketplace where students can buy and sell goods on a college campus, with Alex Eisenach, ’12, and Custom Tech Front LLC, a web design startup, also with Eisenach. For his thesis Butler has set out to define entrepreneurship. “An entrepreneur is one who identifies and capitalizes on new opportunity.”

In October of last year Butler got the opportunity of a lifetime. “One day in negotiations class, Dr. Coughlan asked if anyone would be interested in getting involved with TEDxRVA,” he explained. “Being a huge fan of TED, I jumped at the chance.”

He began working with Andy Stefanovich, an executive at Prophet, a strategic brand and marketing consultancy and curator for TEDxRVA. Over the last six months, Butler worked as a collaborator with Stefanovich, scheduling events and meetings leading up to the event. As TEDxRVA approached in March he transitioned into attending speaker meetings.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Andy on TEDxRVA. I’ve gotten a lot of insight into building relationships while getting to meet people from all over Richmond. It was a beautiful experience, and I’m thankful to Dr. Coughlan for announcing the opportunity to the class. I’ve learned a lot about entrepreneurship along the way.”

Upon graduation Butler has his sights set on New York. “I’m taking ‘New Venture Creation’ and working on a few ideas for that, so I’m hoping one of those work. I enjoy business development and going into existing businesses to help out. My goal is to join my twin brother, who is studying film at New York University. Right now I’m in that stage where I don’t yet know what’s going to happen, but that’s okay.”

Photo: Butler at the National Team Selling Competition in Indiana where he won a division MVP award for the University of Richmond team