2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Raleigh Dewan, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Raleigh Dewan

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

“Entrepreneur at heart with the soul of a poet and an ear for music.”

Fun fact about yourself: I was a (failed) child actor and have an IMDb page

Hometown: Austin, TX

High School: Regents School of Austin

Major: Marketing, English

Minor: Italian, History, Public Policy, International Affairs

Favorite Business Course: Identifying Entrepreneurial Opportunities from the Cox Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Residential Assistant for Kathy Crow Commons | Works in the student dorm to create a safe, inviting, and enjoyable living experience for SMU students

President for Engaged Learning Student Board | Lead student board for an organization that develops research and entrepreneurship on campus

Development Chair for SMU Program Council | Managed 80+ members for SMU’s premier programming organization

Teaching Assistant for Honors English Program | Helps honors English students improve their critical writing and thinking skills in a course context

Student Admissions Ambassador | Guided prospective students and families around SMU, informing them about the opportunities and possible paths available on campus

COX BBA Career Accelerator Program Mentor | Mentored underclassmen in navigating SMU, starting their professional journey, and securing their first internship

Student Advisor on Provost Advisory Board | Advised SMU’s provost on key academic and student life matters

Student Advisor for University Honors Program | Advised SMU’s honors program on key issues regarding curriculum, community, and student life

Poet Laureate for the Meadows Museum | Honored as the Poet Laureate for the nationally recognized SMU Meadows Museum in 2019

Lucy Billingsley Future Texas Business Legend from the Texas Business Hall of Fame

Dallas Business Journal 25 under 25

2022 Poet’s & Quants Most Disruptive Undergraduate Startup

National Institute of Health DEBUT Challenge | Won NIH DEBUT Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Design award

SMU Creative Writing Awards | 1st Place Russell Memorial Poetry (2x)

NexPoint Capital Management Scholar | Highly selective honors cohort for minor in public policy and international affairs at SMU

Hunt Leadership Scholar | The most prestigious leadership scholarship at SMU

Edgar V. Armentrout Scholar | Scholarship award given to exemplary Cox BBA student at SMU

Belle Mayer Bromberg English Scholar | Scholarship award given to the top English student at SMU

Burrell Leadership and Involvement Scholar | Scholarship award given to a student for exemplary leadership and involvement on campus at SMU

Engaged Learning Research Fellow | Research Fellowship awarded to select SMU students to pursue their own independent research

National Academy of Engineers Grand Challenges Scholars | Selective Scholars program for top engineering students to start tackling society’s grand challenges

Clinton Global Initiative University Scholar | Global Scholars program for select student changemakers

Caswell Leadership Fellow | Fellowship for exemplary student leaders at SMU

Hyer Society | Most exclusive honors society for SMU, invitation-only for top 4% of students

Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honors Society | Honors society for top 10% of business students

Phi Beta Kappa | Prestigious honors society for top 5% of students

Where have you interned during your college career?

Deloitte | Enterprise Performance Summer Scholar

The Family Office Association | Marketing Analyst

The Sister Shaq Tea Company | Founder + CEO

SteadiSpoon | Founder + CEO

Collegiora | Founder + CEO

Where will you be working after graduation? My next adventures will be in Brazil and Israel for national fellowships and a global MBA at Tel Aviv University in New Venture Creation, Innovation, and Venture Capital. Afterward, I plan on going full-time into my entrepreneurial ventures.

Who is your favorite business professor? The SMU Cox School of Business boasts some of the most experienced and impressive faculty in the business world, which makes this question a tough one. While many professors have decades of experience, my favorite professor caught my attention not for what he had done in the past but for what he was doing in the classroom. Professor Nils Van Den Steen remains, without a shadow of a doubt, the most dedicated and engaged professor I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from and befriending.

Though I took his Data Analytics & Supply Chain Management course as a non-major, he made me feel as though the class had been specifically tailored to me. He knows every student by name, spends hours revising his decks and lectures, and optimizes his teaching style for each section (and even each student) during office hours. He pushed me to excel and go further even though I already had a fair amount of experience in the field with my businesses. Even more so, he improved my business approach by helping me optimize my processes and strategies. He didn’t do this as a part of some class assignment or as an outside consulting project, but because he genuinely wanted to help. His belief and support in me, exemplary dedication to students, supreme command of the classroom and learning content, and unconquerable affability make Nils Van Den Steen not just my favorite business professor, but one of my favorite people who honor me with their continued friendship.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Without a doubt, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from business is how to deal with uncertainty. Life is a game of unparalleled uncertainty with an endless maze of possible paths and a cacophony of voices telling you which one is best. Understandably, it can be quite overwhelming. To look at the vastness of the world—of your life, even—and decide where to go and figure out how to get there remains any person’s truest “Hero’s Journey.”

In my experience, I have found no better teacher than business (and especially entrepreneurship) for learning how to acknowledge and work with uncertainty in the pursuit of making your ideas a reality. While many title me as an “entrepreneur,” I’ve always seen myself as more of a storyteller. However, I have to come to believe there is no better vehicle to bring your stories to life, to go from idea to impact, than business. With business (and life), you might not see the entire path ahead of you, but you understand how to find your next step, your next hold, and continue onward flexible and open on the path but unflinching in your ultimate goal.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? When I came to Cox, I had always thought business had to be fast. You must move fast, fail fast, etc. While in innovation and start-ups, speed does remain a critical component to success, I’ve learned another modus operandi in Cox—slow. Be measured, be efficient, think about second-order effects, and understand deeply. While certain activities require expedited execution, I’ve learned that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Additionally, Cox has shown me that progress is not always how but who and taught me how to leverage my network to find subject matter experts who can help me avoid failures and find the right path forward.

What business leader do you admire most? I’m fortunate to have one of the business leaders I admire most as an advisor and family friend. Dana Sellers—co-founder and retired CEO of Encore Health Resources, president and COO of Health, and a partner with IBM ‘s Global Business Services—has shown me what it means to do well by doing well and how to create a company that truly makes a difference while caring for its people. There is no business leader I admire more for their acumen and, more so, for their upstanding character and dedication to their employees. Every time I hear a story from Dana about running her various companies, I am always blown away by her immense humility, piercing business acumen, and love for her team members. She has shown me the standard of what a business leader should be and how they should care not just for their customers, but for their employees as well.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’ve been fortunate and lucky to have had an incredible journey so far—from winning international pitch competitions to having been featured on Fox News, NBC, the front page of The Dallas Morning News, and over 20 different journals/publications in four different languages. For me, the most meaningful achievements have come from being able to donate money to incredible organizations fighting human trafficking through my Sister Shaq Tea Company and from being able to see people regain the agency, autonomy, and dignity stolen by their neurological diseases with the SteadiSpoon, an assistive eating device I designed for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease tremors.

Which classmate do you most admire? I would have to say I most admire my good friend and business partner Mason Morland. I first became friends with Mason as we were both business (I’m marketing and he’s accounting) and creative writing majors—we always joke it’s great to have creative business professionals, but probably not creative accounts! Before bringing him onto the SteadiSpoon™ team, I first had him as project manager for Collegiora™—an Ed-Tech SaaS company that supercharges student experience. After seeing his incredible dedication and organizational prowess, I invited him to help with an upcoming SteadiSpoon™ pitch. What I promised would be “a light project” quickly turned into all-nighters and our main goal as the company took off. Throughout it all, he’s proven himself beyond reproach. He doesn’t just possess a great work ethic, but the intelligence, kindness, and upstanding character that everyone should aspire to while maintaining the often-difficult balance of life and work to a masterful degree. There are few I trust more or enjoy spending time with more, and even fewer yet whose friendship I could not imagine my life without.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? While my entire family has been instrumental in my success with my brothers, Richmond and Remington, and my father, Raman, I know I owe all of my success to my mother, Rebecca. Since I was a child, she has always supported me not just with affirmations and love but with true advisement and enablement for me to achieve my dreams. With an ADHD brain and a soul whose motto is “Why have one when six could do,” she has supported me through numerous activities, obsessions, and ventures. My mother was a successful businesswoman and has helped me immeasurably in all my ventures from figuring out financials and operations, to ideas for marketing and connections, to new avenues. Nobody has been more supportive. One would be lucky to have Rebecca Dewan as a loving mother or a business advisor and partner—I’m unimaginably blessed to have her as both.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I’m looking forward to successfully exiting one of my companies and publishing a book.

What are your hobbies? As a storyteller, I love writing in my free time (I’m currently working on a book of narrative poetry about small towns across America) and doing gesture sketches. I’m a big foodie and love trying new cuisines along with cooking—my family loves grilling and smoking on the weekends. I also love exploring different genres of music from Bossa Nova and Italian Opera to Sub-Saharan Desert Rock and Cali Salsa (the achievement I’m most proud of is being in the 99th% for most minutes listening to music for Spotify). Coming from a film family, I deeply enjoy watching films and TV shows as well!

What made Raleigh such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“I’m not sure SMU or the Cox BBA Program has ever had a student as fascinating as Raleigh Dewan. While we tell all our students they can do everything at SMU, not one of them has ever run with that philosophy more. This young man encapsulates everything we could possibly want in one of our students. Raleigh has been active in multiple campus activities, touched a lot of student lives, excelled in his studies, and somehow made time to create and operate three entrepreneurial companies that are doing very well. He has an entrepreneurial spirit, is academically driven and philanthropically motivated, but more than anything, Raleigh is grateful for the opportunities he has had at the Cox School. He has won a range of honors since becoming an SMU student, including having one of the companies he founded during his time here named among “Most Disruptive Startups 2022” by this very publication last fall.  SMU Cox may never see the total package like Raleigh again. We are already proud that we can soon call him an alumnus.  I look forward to looking back on this profile when he changes the world, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will.”

Jim Bryan
Associate Dean, BBA Programs
SMU Cox School of Business


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