Category: Entrepreneurship

Students Tackle Silicon Valley over Spring Break

The School of Business and Economics led a student group to Silicon Valley for an Alternative Spring Break trip.

Alternative Spring Break trips are all the rage at Michigan Tech!  These trips enable students an affordable way to get away from Houghton and have some fun over Spring Break.  The School of Business and Economics offers a students the opportunity to tour the high tech companies of California’s Silicon Valley.

“Going on the Silicon Valley trip was a great way to spend break because I got to meet a lot of cool and inspirational people, while touring top-notch technology companies,” says scientific and technical communications major Armando Flores. The School of Business and Economics organized this trip to give students a backstage pass to tech giants like Google, Autodesk, Cisco and Brocade Communications. The visits came with plentiful opportunities to network, learn about business strategies and explore a whole new world of career options.

Aside from connecting with industry leaders, the students got to experience a culture that differs from what they are accustomed to. “I caught a glimpse of what life is like in California. It really is a melting pot of people, culture and innovation,” Flores says.

The trip wasn’t strictly business, however. The students also had time for fun, creating memories that will last a lifetime. “The most memorable experiences for me were visiting The Gallery at Autodesk, riding a G-Bike at Google and then visiting the Hacker Dojo,” says Flores. “Swimming in the ocean was pretty cool too.”

These thrilling experiences may have made returning to classes a challenge, but they also gave Flores something to strive for. “The trip put everything into perspective and motivated me to keep working hard. One way or another, I will go back,” he says firmly.

Click here to read the full Tech Today article that describes other Alternative Spring Break opportunities Michigan Tech students engaged in this year.

Tech Students win $20,500 at New Venture Competition

Last weekend Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University students competed for a total of $45,000 in this year's New Venture Competition.

Two teams of Michigan Tech students won more than $20,000 in the annual New Venture Competition held at Central Michigan University recently.

Northern Aquaponics won $10,000 in the Best Technology category, and Upland Nanotech won $10,000 for Highest Growth Potential and $500 for second-place pitch.

“We had five strong teams competing in a field of 2Y,” said School of Business and Economics Dean Gene Klippel. “All the teams benefited greatly from the experience of presenting their ideas and receiving valuable feedback from the outstanding panel of judges who participated.”

First place and $30,000 went to Solar Cycle Lights LLC, a student team from Central Michigan.

Upland Nanotech was founded by Thomas Daunais, an electrical engineering major, whose company developed a rapid-sensing technology used for food pathogen detection and drug-level concentration that has the ability to yield results within 20 minutes.

“The first thing we’re going to do is going to take the winnings and leverage another $55,000 out of it,” he said. “We’ll use the $65,000 we’ll have to make an E. coli sensor prototype.”

He said the competition, attended by many business and industry professionals, helped his group network and convince others to believe in their idea.

“We got feedback from the judges that we have an interesting concept, a solid business plan and an overall very intriguing technology,” Daunais said.

Northern Aquaponics, specializing in growing plants and raising fish in indoor environments, won the $10,000 award for Best Technology.

“I think we have done a lot of work to pinpoint our target market and refine our business model to make it more viable,” said Josh Krugh, an economics major and the company’s cofounder. He also thought the judges at Central gave good feedback, not just to his team, but to all of the teams.

“There were so many people there willing and able to help all of us,” Krugh said. “I can’t tell you how many people stopped me throughout the day to give us suggestions and talk about our business. It was definitely a rare opportunity to be in a room full of so many successful businessmen and women.”

He said Northern Aquaponics will use their prize money to build partnerships and company business models.

Twenty-seven teams from Central Michigan and Michigan Tech competed in the daylong event for awards ranging from $500 to $30,000. Panels of 60 judges representing business leaders and entrepreneurs from throughout Michigan and the region evaluated the team presentations based on several factors, including the quality of the idea, strength of the management team and the business plan.

Upland Nanotech and Northern Aquaponics also won second and third place, respectively, at the Fourth Annual Bob Mark Memorial Elevator Pitch Competition on the Michigan Tech campus in November 2012.

This story was originally written by by Dennis Walikainen, University Marketing Communications senior editor, and published in Tech Today.

International Business Ventures Continues Success!

UP Health Care Network helps mobile wellness systems with International Business Ventures Enterprise.

The Upper Peninsula Health Care Network (UPHCN) agreed to match donations received for the student-run Mobile Wellness Systems project, which is converting a 15-passenger van into a mobile health clinic for Ghana. The UPHCN gave their matching donation to the team on Wednesday at an event held in the Rozsa Lobby. Administrators from UPHCN, Aspirus Keweenaw, Baraga County Memorial and Portage Health Systems were in attendance.

Students from Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership, in collaboration with the International Business Ventures (IBV) Enterprise and a School of Technology Senior Design team, have joined forces on the project. In addition to van reconfiguration, students are coordinating with area hospitals to secure donations of working, quality, used medical equipment for incorporation into the van.

The team also accepts monetary donations to purchase other supplies for the project and cover shipping costs associated with transporting the van to Ghana later this spring. Michigan Tech’s Superior Ideas crowd-sourcing website was contacted and helped solicit project funds.

Mobile Wellness Systems seeks to provide diagnostic, preventative and treatment services to Ghanaians who live in villages without easy access to larger medical facilities due to their remote location and who are not serviced by international aid organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. The team’s mission is to equip doctors from larger city hospitals with the tools needed to provide healthcare to these disadvantaged populations living in villages located outside of city centers.

The prototype this year’s students are developing will be used for testing in Ghana this summer by local doctors who will be treating and caring for many people who previously had limited access to adequate healthcare. These doctors will provide invaluable feedback concerning the mobile clinic allowing this sustainable project to expand to more villages in the future.

This story was originally published by Paige Hackney in Tech Today.

Entrepreneurs’ Club Presents: A Dialogue with Patricia Henderson

From Ms. Henderson's visit with the Entrepreneurs Club in 2010.

Funding Startups and the Entrepreneurial Experience

Ms. Henderson is an esteemed alum of MTU.  She is an entrepreneur and president of Cygani, Inc. in Chicago.

Please join us on Friday, February 8th, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm in Fisher Room 126.
All majors are welcome!

Ms. Henderson visited the Entrepreneurs Club in 2010. Read the article from that event.

Tour Silicon Valley during Spring Break 2013

2012 Michigan Tech Tour of Autodesk in San Francisco, California.

Looking for a life and career changing experience? On December 6th at 5pm, you can interview for the chance to go on the best Spring Break trip of your life. The Silicon Valley Experience 2013 will take 15 lucky students to visit California’s technology and innovation hub from March 10 – 15.  To win a spot at the significantly reduced cost of $300, all you have to do is answer one question in 90-seconds: “Why would I like to work and live in Silicon Valley?”

Your answer will be given verbally to the trip coordinators and final trip participants will be selected and notified before the end of the semester. This year, the participants will tour of some of the most innovative companies on the west coast. Last year the group visited Google, Brocade, Cisco, Kyocera, Plug and Play, and other companies.

The Details:

This opportunity is available to current undergraduate and graduate students of all majors at Michigan Tech.

  • Email Russ Louks, rwlouks@mtu.edu your name, major, and year by 5pm on December 5th to participate. A schedule will be sent out early on December 6th with the time you will be interviewed in the Academic Office Building conference room 101.
  • Practice your pitch and deliver it to the panel of judges.
  • If you are selected, you will be expected to:

o   Pay a deposit of  $300 (which includes airfare, transportation around California, and lodging but not food for the trip) prior to leaving for winter break.

o   Work in small groups to review companies we will be attending and present to group before departure to Silicon Valley. (This is to ensure that all trip attendees have an understanding and basic knowledge of the companies we will be visiting).

o   Create a list of thoughtful questions to ask each company in person.

o   Create and bring a resume.

If you have questions about the trip or the interview selection process, please email Russ Louks, rwlouks@mtu.edu or Andre Laplume, aolaplum@mtu.edu.

Read about the 2012 Silicon Valley Experience.

View photos on Facebook.