Longhorn Startup is a unique program at UT Austin where undergraduate students earn real course credit while simultaneously building their own start-up under the mentorship of established entrepreneurs.
One such start-up created by UT Computer Science alumni was recently obtained by Ibotta in a multi-million-dollar acquisition deal.
Formerly known as InStok, OctoShop was a browser extension that helped users navigate online shopping during March of 2020, when the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic caused an inventory crisis for items such as toilet paper and disinfecting products.
“When we were watching the news, we realized that we could maybe solve some of these inventory issues,” said Rithwik Pattikonda, co-founder and former CEO. “That kind of evolved into a browser extension that lets you track items for restock alerts… we added more features like price comparisons, and like price drop alerts, and kind of tried to build an all-in-one browser extension for shopping online.”
As OctoShop grew, the start-up was approached by Ibotta, a major cash-back rewards platform.
In a matter of months — while most of the company’s founding team, which also included Darshan Bhatta and Sriram Hariharan, were still students —the platforms were able to reach a multi-million-dollar deal and OctoShop’s features were integrated into Ibotta.
Pattikonda said that the project-based nature of classes at UT and startup specific resources like Longhorn Startup, Convergent, and Genesis helped setup OctoShop for success. “If you have an idea, just try to build it out as fast as you can. Don’t wait for anything,” Pattikonda said. “The easiest way to learn is by doing.”