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McCombs MBA Student Goes on Food Network’s ‘Food Fortunes’

Leavey School

An MBA can prepare you for a host of different opportunities, but not all universities can claim “reality TV show contestant” among them.

Courtney Leffall, a second year MBA student at University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, recently took his father and son startup idea and competed on Food Network’s show “Food Fortunes.”

“When I was a kid, we never got a chance to build a bike together,” Leffall said. “But now, we’re getting the chance to build a business together.”

Leffall created “The Grillmobile,” a line of installable grills that latch on to the back of a pickup truck, with his father, Talmon Haywood. The idea for the grill came to Haywood when he grew tired of lugging his grill in and out of his truck at tailgates.

“I got tired of lugging that grill, and I had some metal left over,” Haywood said. “I saw two hinges in my garage, and it gave me an idea.”

On the episode of Food Fortunes, Leffall and his father pitched their idea, and won the vote of over 90 percent of the audience. At the end of the presentation, one of the judges, Willie Degel, founder and CEO of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, agreed to invest in the business.

“It’s one thing for your friends or your family to think you have a good idea,” Leffall said. “But when it’s total strangers that have never met you before, that really is a huge validation.”

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