Day: February 2, 2023

2023 Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition Winners

Three students stand with certificates

By Eugene Brown Agyei (Husky Innovate), Shannon Rinkinen (COB)

On Jan. 19, eleven Michigan Technological University students across disciplines pitched their business models to a panel of judges comprised of faculty and business professionals. In it’s sixteenth year, the business pitch competition is a tribute to the late College of Business Professor of Practice Bob Mark and helps nurture Michigan Tech’s entrepreneurial spirit. The tradition is a highlight of Innovation Week activities.

In the end, Bayle Golden (master’s in engineering management) emerged as the top award winner with SafeROW, a startup focused on solving child abductions. Golden also earned the Social Impact Award, sponsored by Elham Asgari, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

Presenting Tall and Small Designs, an innovation for finding the right clothing fit, was Jordan Craven (management information systems), who earned second prize as well as Audience Favorite and Breakout Innovation Award, sponsored by the MTEC SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Third prize went to Asia Motta (engineering management) with the Droplet, a device to keep houseplants alive.

Ideas spanning health, education, and sustainable power generation were also pitched by Huskies.

Business Model Awards

Presented by the College of Business with thanks to sponsors Rick and Jo Berquist, and Dan and Jane Green for sponsoring the Audience Favorite award.

  • First Prize—Bayle Golden with SafeROW ($2,000)
  • Second Prize—Jordan Craven with Tall and Small Designs ($1,000)
  • Third Prize—Asia Motta with The Droplet ($500)
  • Honorable Mention—Rehab (Ruby) Alhajjar with The Water Solution ($250)
  • Audience Favorite—Jordan Craven with Tall and Small Designs ($250)

Social Impact Award

Sponsored and presented by Gates Professor Elham Asgari, College of Business.

  • Winner—Bayle Golden with SafeROW ($1,000)

Breakout Innovation Award

Presented by Patrick Visser, chief commercial officer, MTEC SmartZone.
Sponsored by MTEC SmartZone and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

  • Winner—Jordan Craven with Tall and Small Designs ($1,000)

Special Thanks

Special thanks to those who dedicated time and resources to make the competition a success.


  • Dean Johnson, dean, College of Business
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Rick and Jo Berquist
  • Dan and Jane Green
  • MTEC SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation


  • Jay Meldrum, executive director, Keweenaw Research Center; MTU liaison to the Grand Traverse Area
  • Eric Roberts, MTU alumnus; executive director, 20Fathoms
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Dan Green, MTU alumnus and entrepreneur; principal, BlackFin Group
  • Adrienne Minerick, professor of chemical engineering; affiliated professor of biomedical engineering; president, American Society for Engineering Education
  • Patrick Visser, chief commercialization officer, MTEC SmartZone
  • Michael Cleveland, P.E. and MTU alumnus; mentor in residence at Michigan Tech
  • Lawrence W. Staley, MTU alumnus; director of engineering (retired 2019), Parker Hannifin Corporation

Visit the Husky Innovate Events page for upcoming opportunities.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accountingbusiness analyticsconstruction managementeconomicsengineering managementfinancemanagementmanagement information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

The Business of Being a Husky: Becoming a Leader at Michigan Tech

Group of students stand in front of Chicago's "Bean".
Emily (fourth from left) stands with other American Marketing Association members along with Professor Junhong Min (far right).
Emily Kughn stands in front of a Michigan Tech sign
This blog is by Emily Kughn, marketing and management dual major, and student ambassador.

Back in 2018, the summer before my senior year of high school, I began looking at colleges. I remember getting an email from a strange place called Michigan Technological University. My dad informed me that “MTU” was an excellent university, and we decided to come for a campus visit. Little did I know that when we made the 534-mile trek up to the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan Tech would become my home for the next four years.

I’m really proud of my path in college—I began as an overwhelmed first-year student far from friends and family, and grew into a person who welcomes challenges and changes. I attribute this success to my willingness to try new things and numerous leadership positions on campus. 

“I grew into a person who welcomes challenges and changes.”

Emily Kughn, Michigan Tech business student

My Leadership Experiences

Some of the leadership positions I have held as a Michigan Tech student include: treasurer of the American Marketing Association; Young Women Leaders Program mentor; Orientation Team Leader; College of Business teaching assistant; house manager and overall Winter Carnival chair for Delta Zeta sorority; and Women’s Rugby Club public relations chair, president, and captain.

I am grateful to attend a university that provides students with so many opportunities to be involved, stand out, and lead. Michigan Tech’s size is perfect—you will never feel as if you blend into the crowd, and the different ways and possibilities to develop into a leader on campus are endless.

“Michigan Tech’s size is perfect—you will never feel as if you blend into the crowd.”

Emily Kughn, Michigan Tech business student

If you don’t know how to get started on a path to leadership, my advice is to start making connections: 

  • Say hi to people in your classes.
  • Meet with your professors during their office hours.
  • Attend free campus events.
  • Go to K-Day in the fall.
  • Join student organizations (before holding a leadership position in a student org, you must first become a member).

Also, nobody becomes a leader on their own. It happens as a result of learning from mentors and being built up by those around you. I am fortunate to have had so many people on campus assist me in my path to leadership, including Michigan Tech Marketing Professor Jun Min. From my first time meeting him, he instilled passion in me, made it known that he believed in me, and was always there for advice and mentorship. Every student within the College of Business is lucky to have professors who go above and beyond their job description. They truly care about their students’ leadership development. 

Leadership Lessons

Photo of the Michigan Tech Women's Rugby team

Michigan Tech Women’s Rugby Club gathers for a team photo after conference playoffs.

My involvement has taught me so many lessons and developed me into a strong leader. The Women’s Rugby Club is one student organization that I have been a part of since my first semester here at Tech, and I credit it with developing me into an all-around better person.

In life, I think it’s extremely important to find something you are passionate about. It is much easier to develop into a leader when you have a strong passion for the subject at hand. In college, my passion has become rugby. When I first became a captain for my team, I struggled to speak up and feel like my voice mattered. Despite facing adversity, I kept learning. Over time, my confidence grew and I learned how to be a strong leader. To me, leadership will always be done by learning, empowering others, and building them up. I am so proud to say that in my last game as a captain, we took home some hardware (for the first time) by placing fourth in the conference playoffs in Oshkosh, Wisconsin! Michigan Tech and the College of Business have helped to foster these leadership experiences. As I look forward to graduation in April, I am thankful that I can take all of my leadership lessons with me into my career and personal life. 

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.