MBA Student's Texas Moot Corp-Winning Company Acquired by Houston's BMC Software

Phurnace Software, a company co-founded by a student while in the Texas Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, was purchased by BMC Software, a Houston-based firm, in a transaction that was announced yesterday (Jan. 7).

Phurnace is a developer of automation software that reduces the cost, complexity and risk to deploy and configure Java-based applications in physical, virtual and cloud environments.

Founded by University of Texas at Austin graduates Daniel Nelson and Robert Reeves, Phurnace became a reality while Nelson was enrolled in the Texas Evening MBA Program, and the startup went on to win the prestigious Texas Moot Corp championship in 2006. Hosted by The University of Texas at Austin, Moot Corp is the longest-running business-plan competition in the U.S. and attracts MBA-student teams from around the world to Texas each year.

"Moot Corp was the driving force that made me get everything ready by competition date," Nelson said. "Just by competing we were able to significantly improve the clarity of the plan and express the demand from the market. And more importantly, our first investors were my judges there."

In addition to the Moot Corp experience and other classes as a Texas MBA student, Nelson used the New Venture Creation and Advanced Venture Practicum courses taught by Rob Adams, director of the Moot Corp program and an entrepreneurship teacher at the McCombs School, to formalize the business plan for Phurnace and raise money.

"McCombs gave me all the tools I needed to get the process going," Nelson said.

The company took advantage of the university's Austin Technology Incubator (ATI). While at ATI from 2006-2007, Nelson and Reeves continued to raise money, generate revenue and evolve their business strategy.

Adams was a board member and adviser to the company, and continued to work with Nelson and Reeves as they raised their financing and later introduced them to Larry Warnock, who became CEO of Phurnace.

"This was a true Texas born and built success story," Adams said.

Phurnace personnel became BMC employees when the transaction closed on December 17. The purchase amount was not disclosed.