Tag: entrepreneurship

MTU Team Makes Final Cut of MCIP

The Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize is a six month program that enables teams to go from an idea to venture launch.

A new statewide entrepreneurial contest aims to arm students with the resources and skills necessary to launch a successful tech start-up in the state of Michigan. In addition to more than $100,000 in award money, the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize (MCIP) offered participants intensive start-up training based on the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.

Michigan Tech fielded a team out of a project for the Business Development Experience course — one of four required for the Entrepreneurship Concentration.

"Our low cost ventilator which encompasses a robust and simple design, is used to provide life saving care for infants suffering from respiratory ailments in developing countries," said Smith.

The Michigan Tech students who participated were:

  • Cole SmithManagement major
  • Brock TreanklerManagement major
  • Colin PuttersMarketing major
  • Carolynn MagnusonMarketing major
  • Derek MazurBiomedical Engineering major

The challenge kicked off in late October with a two-day workshop and culminated in February with a final showcase and awards ceremony. During the intervening four months, participants attended biweekly online progress meetings and received pitch training, mentorship and up to $2,000 in prototype funding. Teams were encouraged to brainstorm and innovate on their business model and position in the market.

90 teams participated in the first round and 29 made it on to the finals. Applicants were evaluated based on:

  • The viability and impact of their technology
  • How their business differentiates itself in the marketplace
  • The skill and experience level of the team members.

The Michigan Tech Team mentored by Professor Entrepreneurship and Innovation Dr. Saurav Pathak, Instructor Jonathan Leinonen, and Senior Lecturer in Accounting Anne Warrington was one of the teams selected to advance to the finals. Their project was to develop a low cost ventilator for infants in Ghana. This is an International Business Venture project out of the Enterprise program. The Michigan Tech team went on to win a $2,000 grant to further develop their product.

Event coordinators say the statewide venture challenge will help both the state and its students by keeping Michigan relevant in the knowledge economy and creating different career paths for college graduates.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite…

New U.P. business putting bed bug fears to rest

Victoria (Tannehill) Gariepy uses SBE degree to start her own business!

A new Upper Peninsula business is helping find and rid the region of a returning pest, the bed bug.

Lady Killers Bed Bug Management was formed by the duo of Munising-area mo

tel owners Victoria Gariepy (2004 School of Business and Economics Alumn) and Angela Tiernan over the summer, when they realized a need to have bed bug abatement services more readily available in the U.P.

“Wherever there’s travel and tourism, there are bed bugs” Tiernan said. Munising just happens to be one town that sees travelers from all over the world, and as a result, bed bugs have indeed shown up. With the nearest abatement specialists several hundred miles away in Minnesota, however, Gariepy and Tiernan realized that they – and all U.P. motel and hotel owners – would be left with possibility of having to keep rooms closed for weeks while awaiting treatment.

“It’s such a growing problem. It’s a fear that we all have,” Gariepy said about potential bed bug infestations in their motel rooms. “It was about June, and a friend was concerned that she had one,” she added. At that time, Gariepy and Tiernan realized that something more could be done locally in the cases where bed bugs are found, to help alleviate the fear and to decrease the response time when extermination services are needed.

By August, after much research, the pair had purchased equipment that could take care of bed bugs for good, or at least until the next customer unknowingly carries more in. Now operating under the “Lady Killers” name, the women began to utilize special extreme heating units in affected rooms to safely and cleanly kill the bugs, which tend to hide in dark, tight corners, including in bed creases, behind headboards, and more. The heating unit is placed in the room, until it reaches and maintains a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. To reach all of the bugs, the room is taken apart to expose as many hiding places as possible, and room components rearranged a couple times during the heating period in order to negate any cold spots.

In addition to leaving no residues, the heating process differs from chemical treatments in that it more effectively kills bed bugs in all life stages, including the eggs, thus preventing natural reinfestation.

Now, after just a couple months of success using the heating units and gaining feedback from customers, Gariepy and Tiernan have decided to expand Lady Killers to include another step, a bed bug diagnostic service.

Beginning in December, the duo will begin using special bed bug-sniffing dogs to help facility owners assess whether or not they do have bed bugs present. “The first defense against bed bugs is their customers in the room,” Tiernan said, adding that this is just about the last thing motel owners want to have to discuss with their guests on any given morning. She and Gariepy were not alone in this thinking; owners of larger U.P. motels asked if Lady Killers would offer the dog service locally, since, like the Minnesota heating unit service, the nearest trained dog comes from quite a distance, out of downstate Kalamazoo.

Like those trained to sniff out drugs or bombs, dogs can be taught to smell and indicate the presence of live bed bugs. Humans can inspect a room, too, the women said, but the process takes a substantial amount of time, and each room must be torn apart in order to look in all types of hiding places. The dogs can perform the same task much more quickly, and without the need to take apart anything. “With the dogs, you’re in and out of a room in minutes,” Gariepy said. Tiernan also noted that the dogs can execute the task at a much higher accuracy rate than humans.

The duo opted to go straight to the person considered to be the country’s authority on the issue, Bill Whitstine, who has been featured with his trained bed bug-sniffing dogs on the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.” Gariepy and Tiernan will soon spend a week at Whitstine’s training facility in Florida, learning how to work with their two new dogs and to read their cues, before returning with them ready to get to work in the U.P. and the Upper Great Lakes region.

Lady Killers Bed Bug Management’s heating and bed bug diagnostic services will be available to more than just motels and hotels; Gariepy and Tiernan will happily work with any facility that may harbor the pests, including nursing homes, apartments, and even houses. “You can get a bed bug anywhere,” Tiernan said. More information about Lady Killers’ services may be visited online at www.ladykillers.me. They may be contacted directly by emailing BedBugHitman@gmail.com, or by calling Gariepy at 906-202-0812 or Tiernan at 920-737-8349.

Experience Silicon Valley over Spring Break!

Sign-up by December 5th for the 2014 Silicon Valley Experience!

The Experience of a Lifetime

Each spring 15 students travel from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, to the world hub of start-ups and entrepreneurs- Silicon Valley. This eye-opening experience focuses on immersing students in real companies, with real players, and the current challenges they face.

This year, you can to go Silicon Valley during Spring Break (March 8-14). Visits with entrepreneurs, inventors, managers and companies including Brocade, Cisco, and Google will provide you with a first-hand understanding of technology built enterprises that are revolutionizing global business.

Take Advantage of This Opportunity

Brocade is once again sponsoring the trip bringing the cost to $300 per person including airfare, hotel accommodations with breakfast each morning and transportation throughout the duration of the trip.

This trip is open to all Michigan Tech students. Please pass the information along. Student participation is based on a two minute interview on “Why you want to work and live on Silicon Valley.” If you are interested in participating, please email Karen Foltz at ksfoltz@mtu.edu. You will be assigned interview time starting at 4:00 pm on December 5, 2013.

Click here to view the PDF Brochure:  SiliconValley2014

Winning Pitch Cleans up at Competition

Entrepreneurship Club hosts another successful Elevator Pitch Competition.

Today’s university students are reminded to be careful about what they put up on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Sometimes they forget, and that’s a job for Clean It Up, the winning entry in the fifth annual Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition held Thursday night on the campus of Michigan Technological University.

The late business professor Bob Mark created the competition so students could polish their 90-second, new business pitches, emulating the length of an elevator ride.

The brainchild of accounting major Nikoli Wiens, assisted by chemical engineering major Zach Eckert, Clean It Up promises to clean up content and profiles on the Internet, even beyond the cleansing that Facebook and Twitter claim to do upon request.

“Companies will still dig deeper and get the info,” said Wiens. “We know it’s important to remove certain content, and we would do it cheaper than other services.” The team claimed there was more than $1 million in revenue possible with their $25 fee; such is the need for their service.

Their motto? “Don’t let one crazy weekend ruin your life forever.” They won $1,000 for their efforts.

Second place and $500 went to a device to which university students could also relate. FairShare promised a simple plug-in to calculate individual electric power usage, an important consideration for students sharing living spaces and expenses.

FairShare was created by an elevator-pitch veteran, Abhilash Kantamneni, who won last year’s competition with an Indian dating service.

“This can help college students save money,” Kantamneni said. “It would only cost $25, so most can afford it.” Kantamneni is a PhD student in computer science.

The bronze medal and Audience Favorite Award went to the ingenious Flashion, an app for your cellphone that can take a photo of a pair of shoes, for example, and instantly find their source, price, and more.

This mobile app would be free, according to creators Armando Flores, majoring in communication, culture, and media, and Allison Strome, a management major. They credited teammate and finance major Natalia Lebedeva for their inspiration, with whom they will share $250.

“She had the idea and we just built on it,” Flores said. “We might try to get funding on Kickstarter [the online funding site] to form an LLC.

Safety Straw targeted chemicals added surreptitiously to people’s drinks. Green Receipts sought to eliminate paper receipts at businesses. And more student-friendly businesses included Experience University, to help choose the right courses and teachers; and Food Now, to get groceries and fast food delivered to their rooms when they are in mid-cram for that final exam.

Michigan Tech entrepreneurs can also set their sights on the New Venture Competition, held at Central Michigan University in March and providing $65,000 in prize money.

New Concentrations for Management Degree

Are you Crazy-Smart? You should study business at Michigan Tech!

Two new concentrations have been added to the School of Business and Economics’ BS in Management: supply chain and operations management, and entrepreneurship. Both hold great promise.

“Businesses want employees with the knowledge and expertise in supply chain,” says Greg Graman, associate professor of operations and supply chain management in the School. “Distribution systems are important to customers and wholesalers, and they need to be managed before they get out of control.”

The importance is borne out in co-op, intern, and job opportunities from companies such as Raytheon, Target, Kohler, Union Pacific, Dow Chemical, Oshkosh Truck, Mercury Marine and Polaris.

“I get asked directly by these companies, ‘Tell me about your supply chain program.’” Graman says.

“It’s more than logistics,” says Dana Johnson, professor of operations and supply chain management. “It’s using information technology in a fashion to facilitate timely decision making with quantitative data, for example. It’s an important process in manufacturing or service industries.”

And, it’s multidisciplinary, Johnson says. Students who transfer in from engineering or computer science are bringing quantitative aptitude, and that skill set is emphasized throughout the concentration.

But there’s also emphasis on data analysis, finance, strategic skills, global perspective and communications.

Supply chain activities can have a profound effect on the financial status of the organization. High inventory level and slow response times can have an adverse effect on cash flow.

“A supply management department may be responsible for spending 50 to 60 percent of the gross revenue of an organization, greatly impacting profitability and operational success,” she says.

The new concentration will also be a proving ground for students who want to compete in the project management competition known as THE Project sponsored by the West Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute held in Grand Rapids each year.

Elsewhere, future entrepreneurs can now get focused training in the SBE. The new concentration is the result of work by Saurav Pathak, Michele Loughead, Russell Louks and Tang Wang, and experiential learning in entrepreneurship will be the focus.

The concentration’s unique feature is the Business Development course wherein senior year business school students assume entrepreneurial roles over two consecutive semesters and work on real-life technology-based projects to ascertain the potential for commercialization. In addition, the concentration requires students to take two content-based courses: Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Management.

Several entrepreneurial entities on or around the Tech campus, including the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement, the Enterprise Program, the Senior Design Program and the MTEC SmartZone have been identified and integrated into what could become a sustainable “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Pathak says.

”These entities have contributed a total of 11 technology-based projects for the Business Development course, whose commercial potential is to be ascertained by our business school students.”

Currently, forty-three students are enmeshed in all things entrepreneurial.

“The two content-based course sequence—Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Management—fits in as an introduction and connection for the management students in the new concentration,” says Wang, “At the same time they are taking the Business Development courses in sequence.”

“And the students will be working on real projects with commercial applications, producing real business plans,” Pathak adds. “In essence, the concentration benefits from the predominance of technology on campus.

One example is an improved fishing lure that a downstate company run by alumnus is working on. Four students are helping to determine the scope of the product and potential markets where to sell it.

Other students have been working on improved blood-typing technologies, advanced tire materials, hand-held sonar, and more. “The technology all sounds great, but is there a viable business out of these is the question.” Pathak says. “Business school students need to find the answer.”

They’ll all be involved, including Pathak and Wang, in Tech’s Bob Mark Memorial Elevator Pitch competition and Business Development competition, in addition to some new challenges.

“There’s a new Accelerate Michigan competition and others that we would like to compete in,” Pathak says.

Given Michigan Tech’s track record downstate (winning the $30,000 New Venture Competition in Mt. Pleasant in 2012), sending more students seems like a good idea.

This story was originally by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor, for Michigan Technological University’s University Marketing and Communications.