Category: Entrepreneurship

2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition Winners

The 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition was held January 29.  Eighteen students making up 13 teams pitched business models to advance their innovation. Community members and judges from across campus and the community selected the winners and provided the teams with feedback.

Student stands on stage during business plan competition
Jacob Soter is currently pursuing a TechMBA®

The winners of the 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition:

  • First Prize, $2,000—Kyra Pratley, POWERPENDANTS
  • Second Prize, $1,000—Jake Soter, SwimSmart Technologies
  • Third Prize, $500—J. Harrison Shields, Shields Technologies
  • Honorable Mention, $250—Samerender Hanumantharao & Stephanie Bule, Bio-Synt
  • Honorable Mention, $250—Allysa Meinburg, Haley Papineau, Sadat Yang, AAA Prosthetic Ankle
  • Audience Favorite, $250—Allysa Meinburg, Haley Papineau, Sadat Yang, AAA Prosthetic Ankle
  • MTEC SmartZone Breakout Innovation Award, ($1,000 Reimbursable expenses toward business development)—Ranit Karmakar

This event is a tribute to the late Bob Mark, professor of practice in the College of Business who started the Elevator Pitch Competition at Michigan Tech. The competition recognizes his entrepreneurial spirit and its continuation at Michigan Tech.

The 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition was hosted by Husky Innovate, a collaboration between Pavlis Honors College, the Michigan Tech College of Business, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. Husky Innovate is Michigan Tech’s resource hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, and offers workshops, competitions, NSF I-Corps training, a speaker series, and co-hosts the Silicon Valley Experience.


Apply Now for the Spring Break 2020 Michigan Tech Silicon Valley Experience

Aspiring student entrepreneurs and innovators are invited to apply for the Michigan Technological University Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break 2020 of California Bay Area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field. The deadline to apply for the experience co-hosted by Husky Innovate, a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College, the College of Business, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, is February 10, 2020.

student standing in Facebook headquarters

Silicon Valley is known for its technology breakthroughs, high-tech startups, innovative companies, and Fortune 1000 companies. Its innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem including culture, policies, talent, resources, and networks serve as inspiration for students.

The Silicon Valley Experience will showcase multiple perspectives of a day-in-the-life of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and business leaders. This tour will provide an interactive opportunity for students to discover more about a variety of industry settings, to sample various innovative corporate cultures through tours and presentations, and to meet and talk with successful alumni entrepreneurs.

Up to 15 students will be guaranteed a slot on the trip. Lodging, ground transportation to and from toured companies, and some food will be covered. Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own air travel. Students who have a demonstrated financial need can apply for a limited travel scholarship.

Students who apply and are accepted will have the opportunity to:

  • Tour companies like Google, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Facebook, Ford, Clari, BYTON, Twilio, Autodesk, Waymo, the Porter Vineyard, as well as recent Michigan Tech-alumnus startup company Handshake
  • Meet with entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Talk with Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field
  • Get answers to your real-world business, innovation, and leadership questions
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of the enterprises that are revolutionizing global business

As part of the application, students will create a two-minute video describing how they will share their experience with the Michigan Tech community upon completion of their travel in order to positively contribute to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Apple here: SVE Experience 2020 Application.

Major funding for the trip is provided by the 14 Floors alumni group.


Marketplace’s Chris Farrell to Speak On Campus April 8

Chris Farrell next to a bronze Husky statue on campus

Farrell’s presentation, “Old Techniques and New Technologies: The Rise of the Creative Economy,” will focus on one of the most exciting economic trends of our era—the rise of an artisan, craft, and creative business economy. Craft businesses like brew pubs and handcrafted snow bikes aren’t quaint artifacts from another era. They’ve grown and expanded and moved from the economy’s tributaries into the mainstream. Equipped with advanced technologies, entrepreneurial artisans can sell into local, national, and global markets.

An award-winning journalist, Farrell is a columnist for Next Avenue and the Star Tribune. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, the New York Times, Kiplinger’s, and other publications. He is also economics commentator for Minnesota Public Radio and host of the series, “Conversations on the Creative Economy.” His most recent book is “Purpose and a Paycheck” (HarperCollins Leadership).


Business Huskies Travel to Silicon Valley for Spring Break

Image of bicycle outside Google headquarters
This spring break (March 11-15), the School of Business and Economics (SBE) is sending five undergraduate Huskies to the hub of innovation—Silicon Valley. Sarah Anderson (accounting and finance dual major), Hannah Badger (engineering management), Jacob Mihelich (accounting and finance dual major), Kalli Hooper (engineering management and marketing dual major), and Haley Hall (engineering management and marketing dual major) applied and were accepted to the Silicon Valley Experience (SVE), an annual trip.
As part of the application process, students created a two-minute video describing how they will share what they learned with the Michigan Tech community to contribute to the on-campus entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“I had been wanting to go on this trip since my first year on campus,” says Hannah Badger, who along with other business students, will also be sharing their travels live via the School of Business and Economics’ Instagram account (follow at @mtubusiness). She adds that her parents are proud of the professional experience she’s getting. 

Aerial view of Silicon Valley
The trip offers emerging business leaders an opportunity to go inside some of the world’s largest corporations including Netflix, Google, Facebook, Ford, Byton, Hewlett Packard, Twilio, and Capella, as well as Handshake, a Michigan Tech alumni startup. The tour showcases perspectives of a day-in-the-life of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and business leaders. It is an interactive opportunity for students to discover more about a variety of industry settings, to sample innovative corporate cultures through tours and presentations, and to meet and network with successful Bay Area-based alumni entrepreneurs.

In total, 15 students across campus were accepted. Lodging, some food, and ground transportation to and from toured companies is provided. Students arranged and paid for their own air travel, although some limited scholarships were made available.

“The Silicon Valley Experience is Michigan Tech’s unique learning opportunity that helps students realize the formula of success = technology + business. Michigan Tech alumni currently working at companies in Silicon Valley escalate our students’ passions as entrepreneurial thinkers,” says Junhong Min, professor of marketing and SVE chaperone.

The opportunity is made possible in part through major gifts from alumni Rick Berquest, Tom Porter, and Kanwal Rekhi, and is a collaborative effort between SBE, Pavlis Honors College, the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, and the 14 Floors initiative.


Full-Circle Moment: MLK Day Speaker, Alumnus Reflects on Husky Experience

Speaker Donzell Dixson stands before an audience
Dixson Dynamics founder, Donzell Dixson, got his first speaking experience as a Michigan Tech business student.


Heading back to campus as the keynote speaker for the 30th annual Michigan Technological University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration banquet was a pinch-me moment for 2014 finance graduate Donzell Dixson. It wasn’t that long ago, where instead of inspiration and confidence, Dixson waded through self-doubt.

“At times as a student, I felt inadequate. I felt less than. In class, I wasn’t the smartest. Other students seemed to be more prepared for college than I was,” Dixson says. “But my professors in the School of Business and Economics seemed to recognize I had a willingness—an eagerness—to learn.”

Michigan Tech alumnus Donzell Dixson
Today, Dixson resides in Minneapolis and is employed by Target Headquarters.

The Saginaw, Michigan, native first experienced campus by way of the MiCup Scholars Program, a collaboration between three Michigan community colleges and Michigan Tech, which encourages low-income and first-generation college students to continue to follow their dreams of higher education. The initiative is specifically geared toward students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“MiCup was really the first and only time I got to see firsthand what Michigan Tech was all about. That’s how I knew it could be for me,” he recalls.

Coursework was rigorous and with support Dixson rose to the challenge. “Getting connected with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion was critical for me. My relationships there helped during times of struggle,” he says.

In his senior year, Dixson applied and was accepted into the competitive and nationally recognized Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP). “It is a hands-on trading experience that really opened my eyes to possibilities in business. The thought processes and strategies I learned in APMP apply to just about every facet of my career and life now. I tend to approach everything a little bit differently—asking, ‘how can I be a producer instead of a consumer’?”

A college internship with Target headquarters has evolved into a diverse technical career for Dixson. “Colleagues will often assume that as a business graduate I might not have a handle on the highly technical aspects,” Dixson explains. He became even more motivated to learn, challenging himself to master coding and develop mobile apps. Management took notice. He has thrived in software engineering roles with the company and is now a business analyst.

In 2017, Dixson, who recalls his first-ever public speaking experience as an APMP student, founded Dixson Dynamics, whose mission is to educate, motivate and guide others to achieve their goals through a plan. He and his business partners have spoken to schools, colleges, organizations and businesses about how to not only create a plan but to put it into action.

Donzell Dixson poses with Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech School of Business
Reconnecting—Donzell Dixson stands with his former finance professor, Dean Johnson, now dean of the School of Business and Economics.


Dixson calls Minneapolis home now, but he still has family back in Michigan rooting for him, just as they have since his days as a Husky. “In a lot of ways my mom barely recognizes me. I was a kid who at one time was expelled from school. She is proud of me. And she is proud that my success is centered on serving others.”

Just as Donzell Dixson has evolved, campus continues to, too. Dixson believes in President Koubek’s leadership and his mission to diversify Michigan Tech, providing more opportunities and experiences like his to even more students.