Kevin Koym poses with YLAI fellows

Business Host Connects Visiting Entrepreneurs with Resources, Relationships

  • Apr 11, 2024
  • Gwendolyn Reed

Technology venture accelerator Tech Ranch works to solve global issues by supporting entrepreneurs and startups taking on some of the world’s greatest challenges. Founder and CEO Kevin Koym is dedicated to impact innovation, which prioritizes technology addressing human need in areas that include mental health, immigration, health care, agriculture, energy and more.   

Tech Ranch’s dedication to global impact aligns with Texas Global’s pursuit of international engagement and strategic partnerships for The University of Texas at Austin. Koym serves as a business placement host for the University’s Global Programs and Innovation (GPI) unit, which works with governments, universities and industries to train emerging leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs at UT and around the world.  

GPI’s Global Customized Programs team provides professional and academic training as well as cultural enrichment opportunities for participants from more than 44 countries. As a host for several of these programs, Koym introduces participants to entrepreneurial ecosystems both in Austin and around the world, connecting them with organizations and people who could potentially help bring their offerings to market. 

Kevin Koym poses for a headshot

“The idea is essentially to enliven the entrepreneurs,” Koym said of the mission. “For entrepreneurs to actually take on these problems, they need access to resources, to best practices and to the right relationships. Getting them access to those things is essentially what we do.” 

Koym recently hosted two fellows as part of GPI’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI). Administered at UT Austin by Texas Global, this U.S. State Department-sponsored professional exchange program serves entrepreneurs ages 25-35 from across Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada. One YLAI Fellow described Koym as not just a host, but a "fundamental figure in [their] entrepreneurial journey." 

Supporting Tech to Improve Conditions 

Tech Ranch utilizes both for-profit and nonprofit models. The for-profit side works with a pay-to-play model, offering programs for startups that are paid for either by the startups themselves or by sponsors. The nonprofit side focuses on a number of topical initiatives, with donors funding the startups that work to solve problems within each initiative.  

Koym’s organization focuses its work in areas suffering from dire conditions that have been neglected throughout the world. From disease control and water technology to clean energy and electromobility, the organization’s success in solving complex issues is largely due to a willingness to experiment with solutions. Koym explained that often, these issues are “not pretty” and typically haven’t received much prior funding or support.  

Tech Ranch has worked with entrepreneurs in more than 28 countries during the past seven years. Through programs with Texas Global, it has supported the work of entrepreneurs from Uzbekistan, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico and beyond. 

Early Motivations for Global Connection 

Koym’s emphasis on international relationships dates back to his earliest years. While he was growing up, his globally informed father was involved in the US Peace Corps in Brazil. At home, the family frequently hosted guests from around the world, introducing their young son to new languages, cultures and ideas. 

Later, at the beginning of his career, Koym worked his way through college at several fledgling companies while studying electrical engineering at UT Austin.  

“I got really passionate about how technology and startups can be used to change the world for the better,” Koym said on working for a Steve Jobs startup company called NeXT. “I was working for the crazy guy at the front of the room who's beating his fist on the table saying, ‘We're going to change the world!’ I bought into it as this young college student who initially didn't know anything about entrepreneurship.” 

In 1994, Koym started his first company in Austin but didn’t find immediate success. Soon enough, however, he discovered a customer in Mexico who needed his technology. While working with clients in Mexico, Koym said, he “fell in love with the idea of not just doing technology and startup work, but doing it internationally.” 

“Kevin goes above and beyond to introduce Fellows to influential people in their fields and help them with navigating the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Austin and the United States,” said Caroline Hoffman, senior program coordinator of Global Customized Programs. “He is truly committed to increasing global partnerships and understanding.” 

Tech Innovations in Many Nations 

Tech Ranch connects emerging technologies to their appropriate market niches through a mechanism called a “venture bridge.” Essentially, venture bridges introduce Tech Ranch to new technologies and their developers around the globe. That way, Tech Ranch can then connect them to U.S. markets and assist with entrepreneurial activity in both directions.  

One of the entrepreneurs Tech Ranch supports in Chihuahua, Mexico, recently developed a new method that can successfully test for a heart attack up to eight hours before one happens. Besides changing the game for preventative measures, at only $2 per test, the technology also revolutionizes what it means to have a heart attack for those with financial constraints. 

Another company supported by Tech Ranch, AVA Salud, is based out of Monterrey, Mexico. The team at AVA Salud has developed “virtual hospitals” to extend hospital care into the home. Many of their comprehensive patient care methods are now being integrated into more than 50 hospitals across Mexico. The founder, David Potes, was selected through a venture bridge that connected Tech Ranch to the university Tecnológico de Monterrey. 

Additionally, a company in Hungary called MedicalScan is experimenting with artificial intelligence to sift through mass amounts of medical data, more accurately diagnose patients and create personalized treatment plans. Their innovative technology and massive databases allow them to observe health population data across the country.  

Medical Scan’s founder, Celia Blasszauer, got connected to Tech Ranch via a venture bridge funded by the Hungarian government in 2021. Blasszauer now operates an office each in Austin and Hungary, bridging European and American health care systems. 

“There's no issue in the world that hasn't already been solved somewhere,” said Koym. “You just have to have the network to discover that solution and connect it to the right market. To solve the world's problems, you have to have a discovery mechanism.”

Currently, the company maintains active venture bridges in Japan, Austria and Mexico. Historically they have also worked with entrepreneurs developing projects in Italy, Egypt, Slovenia and South Korea. Koym describes each of his travel experiences as “an opportunity to build a bridge.”

“The slogan at UT is, What starts here changes the world,” said Koym. “UT needs alumni like me to actually help connect it to the world. I'm passionate about taking the way we think in Austin and bringing that to the world.”