Circuit of the Americas Founder and Chairman Bobby Epstein to Headline Longhorn Startup Demo Day

The University of Texas at Austin announced today that Bobby Epstein, founder and chairman of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), will be the featured guest at the university’s Longhorn Startup Demo Day on April 24.

Demo Day is a biannual gathering to hear startup pitches from UT Austin undergraduates in the Longhorn Startup Lab, a semester-long class in the Longhorn Startup Program in which interdisciplinary teams are formed to start companies. Ethernet inventor and Cockrell School of Engineering professor of innovation Bob Metcalfe created Longhorn Startup three years ago to support student entrepreneurship. Longhorn Startup Lab is taught by Metcalfe, Cockrell School Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ben Dyer and Joshua Baer, of the College of Natural Sciences' Department of Computer Science and founder of Capital Factory. Demo Day serves as the culmination of the students’ work throughout the semester, and this spring’s event will feature 12 six-minute pitches by student startups ranging in discipline from health care to social networking.

One of the hallmarks of the Longhorn Startup Program is the access students receive to successful entrepreneurs across industries, both as mentors and guest speakers. Last fall’s Demo Day included “Shark Tank” investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Bobby Epstein

Bobby Epstein

During this year’s one-on-one interview with Metcalfe, Epstein will share his experiences on founding and continuing to grow COTA.

“We are delighted and honored to have Mr. Epstein at Demo Day, and I look forward to hearing his insight and wisdom,” Metcalfe said. “COTA can be considered one of Austin’s largest high-tech startups, and it’s helping to advance the automotive technology cluster in our city.”

Raised in Dallas and an alumnus of UT Austin, Epstein is a loyal supporter of the Cockrell School and its students, sponsoring the UT Austin Solar Vehicles Team’s participation in the Formula Sun Grand Prix, an annual collegiate solar car competition held at COTA.

Epstein spent much of his successful career as a bond trader before joining Red McCombs as a majority investor in COTA, a $450 million multipurpose facility in southeast Austin that contains a 3.4-mile Formula 1 race course capable of hosting crowds in excess of 150,000. Once Epstein signed on, the engineering and building of the COTA track began almost immediately and was finished in just two years — an accomplishment of great scale on a very short timetable. COTA track construction was announced in 2010, broke ground in 2011 and was ready for its first Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in fall 2012.

In addition to the annual F1 event, COTA also hosts MotoGP, X Games and other major sporting events throughout the year, as well as concerts, conferences and expositions at its Austin 360 Amphitheater and other meeting spaces. COTA employs 300 people year-round, with employment jumping into the thousands for major events, and estimates a local economic impact of more than $400 million annually.

Demo Day will be held on Thursday, April 24, 5-10 p.m. in the LBJ Auditorium on the UT Austin campus. Register today to attend.