Tag: entrepreneurship

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.

Two Bows seeks funds for summer apparel line!

Two Bows-- the apparel line with the outdoorsy woman in mind-- is seeking funding for their summer line samples!

Three years ago Management major Jessica Tompkins started her own company Two Bows LLC .  Now a senior in the School of Business and Economics, Jessica needs our support!

Two Bows has been accepted by Kickstarter – an online threshold pledge system for funding creative projects– to raise funds for their Spring/Summer apparel line. She encourages everyone to follow the project, choose a reward, and pass along the word.  Two Bows only has 30 days to reach their goal of $5,000.  This money would then allow them to move forward taking the next big step to develop their company.

Jessica credits the School of Business and Economics and her classes for her growing success. Day by day she uses skills and knowledge she has gained at Michigan Tech while continuing to build the company’s foundation. Two Bows has previously been funded from several resources including: business competitions, Crowdbackers crowdfunding, and non-monetary awards. These sources, combined with social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) have enabled her to market the company at a low cost.

However, in an effort to grow Two Bows, they are searching for additional funding sources to add a Spring/Summer line. This new line will supplement the products currently being sold for Fall and Winter. Jessica hopes the new line will allow Outdoorsy girls, like her, to be comfortable and look great while enjoying the hobbies they love!

By meeting their $5000 goal, Two Bows will have enough funding to create their new line, have professional photos taken, and update their website.  They only have 30 days to raise the money, and get their backers the rewards they earn in return for their funding! The rewards stack, so the more you back, the more you receive. Every donation helps!

Two Bows needs all the support it can get to reach their goal!  Let’s help out one of our own, click here to read more and make a donation!

Student Entrepreneur Seeks Endorsements

Jess Tompkins pitches her idea in the New Venture Competition, a joint business plan competition between Central Michigan and Michigan Technological University held in the spring of 2012.

Jessica Tompkins, a fifth-year student in business management, needs the help of the campus community.

Tompkins is competing for a $250,000 grant for her start-up company, Two Bows LLC, and has only three days to collect 250 votes to be considered for the award.

All you have to do to help is:

  • Go to Mission Small Business
  • Click “Log in and Support” and log in using Facebook.
  • Type “Two Bows” in the search and click “Vote.”

You can also watch this 45-second YouTube video to show you the above steps: How to Vote.

This community outreach is part of CHASE’s program, “Mission: Small Business.” It offers 12 grants in the amount of $250,000 to help small businesses grow. The deadline for weighing in is Saturday, June 30.

Tompkins founded Two Bows, which offers an apparel line with the outdoorsy woman in mind. “For far too long,” she says, “women have worn men’s hunting and fishing apparel because they had nothing else. Now they are able to ‘roll with the boys’ and not have to look like one.”

The endeavor has been fruitful; Two Bows recently received the Student Startup of the Year Award from the MTEC SmartZone.

Tompkins is developing a sewing company in the area, so that garments can be produced not only in America but in Michigan and help create jobs in the area.

Two Bows has raised a small amount of capital on crowdbackers.com and is near completion on a website through ZT Web Development.

Originally published in Tech Today.

More from Jess and Two Bows…

Michigan Tech Students Compete for $60,000

2011 Elevator Pitch Competition

New Entrepreneur Support Center Includes Space for Tech Students