Tag Archives: business plan competition

Shawn Badanjek, Engineering Management & MIS, Wins Big at Lear Open Innovation Challenge with other Michigan Tech Students

By Jennifer Donovan
Original Link

Five Michigan Tech students competed in the Lear Open Innovation Challenge 2018, and four brought home awards.

Michigan Technological University students Shawn Badanjek, Mayank Bagaria, Anurag Kamal, Cameron Philo and Arvind Ravindran completed this year’s challenge, and Badanjek [student in the School of Business and Economics] was a member of the team that won the grand prize.

Lear Corporation, based in Detroit, is a leading automotive supplier that hosts the annual challenge to build connections with the state’s universities and tap new sources of innovative ideas.

“Detroit is the birthplace of the automobile, and, leveraging this proud legacy and manufacturing expertise, its industries are poised to be ground zero for the development of tomorrow’s mobility solutions,” the Lear Open Innovation Challenge website explains.

The challenge is conducted by the Innovatrium, a consulting firm founded to help organizations build the internal capacity to innovate and grow.

This year’s Lear Challenge had 57 participants from six universities: Michigan Tech, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Detroit-Mercy.

The Lear Open Innovation Challenge presents a problem to interdisciplinary teams of university students. This year, the challenge involved increasing vehicle occupant safety. Two weeks later, the teams meet in Detroit to present their solutions.

The competition is designed to teach an innovative mindset, prepare students to create ideas for the future of mobility and vehicle connectivity, work with innovation coaches and Lear technology development experts and learn how to develop solutions that advance technology and manufacturing. While in Detroit, the student teams get a tour of Lear’s headquarters and a chance to network with top companies in the Detroit area and faculty from Michigan Tech, Michigan State, Wayne State, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Grand Prize Winner

Five Michigan Tech students completed the challenge and four received awards. One, Shawn Badanjek, was a member of the team that won the Grand Prize. A senior in engineering management [and management information systems], he will receive an internship with Lear for the summer, where he will work with his team to develop a prototype of their idea. He will also receive $250 cash prize, a Haworth Fern chair (customized personally for him) and a set of Detroit Tigers tickets.

Lear Open Innovation Challenge grand-prize-winning team

Lear Open Innovation Challenge grand-prize-winning team: (from left) Michigan Tech student Shawn Badanjek, Janelle Newman, Shivam Bajaj, Nicole Goldi and Adrian Maloy.

Badanjek has high praise for the competition mentors. “I believe the guidance and mentoring I received from these people was priceless,” he says. “I learned more about high-level team building and interaction in two weeks than in any semester-long class I have ever taken. This is something you learn that will be with you and help you navigate team interactions for life.”

Two other students, Cameron Philo—a Pavlis Honors College student—and Mayank Bagaria, were on a team that won an award for the most innovative idea. They will each receive a $250 cash prize.

“We approached the problem from a very different perspective, not as a conventional mechanical engineer would design, but as a biomedical engineer would design,” says Bagaria, a graduate student in mechanical engineering. “Working on the team was an awesome experience; diverse universities with people from different majors provided a very different perspective to the solution. The whole experience made me realize my strength and areas I need to work on. Michigan Tech helped us throughout the process. It would not have been possible to go and compete in Detroit without Michigan Tech.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.


The sun is shining on a new Upper Peninsula business

Dustin Denkins ('10) and Matt Miotke of Suburb Solar, Cooks, MI (Photo credit: Shawn Malone)

Alum Dustin Denkins and his wife Jill are growing their advanced technology business right here in the Upper Peninsula.  Suburb Solar, which was founded in 2009 during Dustin’s graduate work here at Michigan Tech, was formally incorporated in early 2011. Sam Eggleston of Upper Pennisula’s Second Wave, an online magazine devoted to reporting trends in technology, business, and growth in Michigan’s UP, featured the story in their January 2012 edition.

Suburb Solar builds portable solar generators, making it simple for anyone to use it in everyday applications. “Basically, when I decided to make this, I wanted to make something so easy that my grandmother could use it,” says Dustin Denkins of the EasySun Solar Generator.

While an MBA student at Michigan Tech, Denkins won first place in the first annual Business Plan Competition (founded by the late Bob Mark), and walked away with $4,100 in prize money and consulting services to help get the company off the ground. The Business Plan Competition, now the New Venture Competition, has partnered with Central Michigan University to offer a top prize of $30,000 on March 31st down in Mt. Pleasant. Michigan Tech expects to be well represented, learn more about the competition.

The solar generator–built right here in the Upper Peninsula and with many components constructed here as well–is portable, sporting two heavy-duty wheels that allows the 125-pound device to be transported wherever it needs to go.

The School of Business and Economics wishes Superb Solar future success and thanks Dustin for being a great inspiration to other students.

See full story here.


Business Plan Competition Ramps Way Up: $30,000 for First Place

Judges complete evaluations during the 2011 business plan competition.

“How do I sign up?”

That’s the question Bob Mark, professor of practice in the School of Business and Economics, is going to get asked a lot.

The reason?

His Business Plan Competition, with modest awards, just joined forces with Central Michigan University’s New Venture Competition to the tune of $30,000 for first, $10,000 for second, and $5,000 for third place.

Held at Central, at least initially, the competition will pit teams of undergraduate or graduate Tech students against CMU students. They come up with ideas for new companies and how to make them come to fruition.

“And next year, it could be even higher,” Mark said.

The competition will be extended to an all-day affair of each team making three presentations in front of three different panels of judges.

“This makes us part of one of the top competitions in the country,” Mark said. “I can’t recall any this large, other than Rice University’s graduate student-only competition.”

Mark sees more training sessions ahead for the Tech teams to match Central’s semester-long workshops for their competition.

“Now we do three sessions: one on executive summaries, another on identifying your market, and one more on the financial numbers you need in a business plan,� he said.

Additional changes will include putting the training sessions on the web (via a grant), and greater numbers of teams are anticipated to advance to Mt. Pleasant next year.

“We had seventeen teams begin this year’s competition, and only six continued to the end,” Mark said. “The increased monies will make a lot of the teams want to stick it out.”

By comparison, Central, with 28,000 overall enrollment and 2,200 in its business school, had 23 teams competing at their New Venture Competition that was just completed.

Tech could do well.

“They didn’t have a lot of high-tech businesses planned,” Mark said. “Their winner had a smart phone app for shopping, second was replacing rollers for conveyor belts, and another had plans for bamboo plantations.”

Microbreweries were also prevalent in the plans.

“We’ll be able to hold our own,” Mark said. “We will have to focus on our presentation and communication skills.”

A trip across the bridge could begin the trip of a lifetime, if the Tech students do their homework.

Like Jess Tompkins, a junior in management, did this year. She took second this semester in the Tech’s Business Plan Competition.

She used her prize of $500 to register her women’s outdoor apparel business, Two Bows LLC. “I will definitely be working to join next year’s competition,” she said.

Jacob Carlson, a finance major, agrees: “The partnership with Central presents students with a great opportunity to increase awareness of their business ideas, network and bounce ideas off of each other, and receive a large investment that can have a great impact on their business.”

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor


Affordable Solar Energy: Michigan Tech Business Plan Competition

Denkin wins first annual Business Plan Competition at Michigan Technological University.
Dustin Denkin and his company, Suburb Solar, won the first annual Business Plan Competition at Michigan Technological University.

Dustin Denkin walked away with $4,100 in prize money and consulting services after winning first place at Michigan Tech’s First Annual Business Plan Competition. Denkin’s company, Suburb Solar, created to provide pre-assembled modular solar electric systems to households, was awarded the prize after spending four months preparing a business plan and presenting his plan to a panel of judges on April 17th .

Denkin, an MBA student scheduled to graduate in December of 2010, said the idea for his solar panel business came from his own personal experience. “I wanted to set up a solar system for my house and I found out that it would either take a great deal of my time or a great deal of my money,” said Denkins. “So I wanted to come up with a more affordable, easier way to connect homes to solar power.” Suburb Solar’s product is still in the beta-testing stage, but will provide up to 5% of a house’s energy with just a single unit at 1/10 the cost of current systems. The next step is to finish the beta-testing and begin quality testing of the product.

As the winner of the competition, Denkins received $4,100 worth of money and consulting services from local area businesses to help get Subrub Solar off the ground.  “The money and services will help immensely in moving Suburb Solar forward,” said Denkin.

Three teams presented their plans to a panel of judges. Kevin and Cynthia Hodur came in second place, with a plan for their business, Keweenaw Archive, dealing with writing instruments, notebooks, and journals. In third, was Brent Halonen and Dan Eskola and their company NCO Cookies, a business with a niche market for a better cookie product.

Ensuring a very high standard, business plan reviewers included Dr. James Baker from Michigan Tech, Mr. Phil Musser, Director of Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, David Brule, Jr. of Northstar Industries, Dick Hennesy, retired banker from J.P. Morgan Chase, and Jim Bottomley, COO of GS Engineering.

Bob Mark, co-director of the Institute of Global Learning and Entrepreneurship added, “This is the first year Michigan Tech has had a Business Plan Competition but the quality of the business plans submitted was outstanding.  We look forward to additional competition next year! Special thanks to Jonathon Leinonen, Roger Woods and Anne Warrington for conducting the training sessions for the competitors.”

Thank you to the students, judges, the Institute of Global Learning and Entrepreneurship, the School of Business and Economics and prize contributors including: May Waddell, From Vario, Mechlin, & Tomasi, PLLC, Joe Daavettila, CPA, The Marketing Department, Delta Business Solutions, and the MTEC SmartZone for making this event a success!


Business Plan Competitors Learn from Jonathan Leinonen of Houghton’s Business Incubator

John Leinonen spoke to Business Plan Competition entrants about good business plan writing
Jon Leinonen spoke to Business Plan Competition entrants about good business plan writing

Competition is building as 16 teams have registered to compete in the first annual Michigan Tech Business Plan Competition. Since February 3rd, 25 students have been taking their ideas and constructing a plan for their dream businesses. On Tuesday, April 16 ten teams of competitors will present to a panel of judges and the winning business plan will receive cash and a variety of consulting services valued at $4,100.

As part of the competition, students are asked to attend learning sessions geared toward developing their ideas and teaching proper elements of a business plan. Jonathan Leinonen of the MTEC SmartZone Business Accelerator and adjunct lecturer of an entrepreneurship class within the School of Business and Economics at Michigan Tech, introduced key points to competitors, telling them what it takes to keep a plan near the top of the pile. Leinonen pointed out that in some cases, reviewers can be looking over as many as 25-50 business plans per day. He emphasized the executive summary as the opportunity to grab your audience’s attention. “This is the first cut,” he said. “This is where you need to answer questions like ‘Can my business succeed and will it be profitable?” According to Leinonen, investors generally look for a 20-30 percent return and base their decision on the likelihood of seeing such a return.

He also noted that demonstrating willingness to expand is key. “They want to see that you’re not a one trick pony,” Leinonen said as he discussed the best way to describe products and services. “Keep in mind as you’re writing that your industry peers should think that you are a force to contend with, if they ever read it.”

The most resounding advise spoke to honesty: “You don’t ever want to mislead people because they’ll sniff you out,” Leinonen said. He encouraged participants to exclude anything that couldn’t be concretely backed up.

Learn more about the business plan competition.

View the event on Facebook.