Tag: Jess Tompkins

Michigan Tech Entrepreneur, Jess Tompkins, featured in UP’s Second Wave

Jess Tompkins, a fifth-year student in business management, was recently featured in the Upper Peninsula’s Second Wave. The publication tells the story of the new economy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — a narrative of creative people and businesses, new development, cool places to live, and the best places to work and play.

Tompkins was touted for her business Two Bows, which she started in 2010 under the tutelage of the late Professor of Practice in the School of Business and Economics Bob Mark. The article mentions:

To begin the networking process and get the ball rolling, Tompkins joined Tech’s entrepreneurship support center. During this time she incorporated her business plan, sketches and her prize money from the competition to get sample products made. She later joined the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance. Soon, her idea was starting to look a lot like a real company.

Read the complete article at UP’s Second Wave.


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


New Entrepreneur Support Center Includes Space for Tech Students

The Entrepreneur Support Center (EDC) is making space for new businesses, and two Michigan Tech students are among the first tenants.

A collaboration among the MTEC SmartZone, Finlandia University and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the EDC is located in the Jutila Center in Hancock and allows access to office space, equipment, training and other start-up resources, according to a press release.

“The center provides entrepreneurs with a short-term office and professional guidance to launch their businesses,” said MTEC SmartZone Program Director Jon Leinonen.

Jess Tompkins, a junior in management, is taking advantage of the space.

“I’m planning to start a business for women’s outdoor apparel, Two Bows,” she said. “The Entrepreneur Support Center provides a fully operating space that I couldn’t afford otherwise. Within a couple of weeks, I will have my partnership set up and be planning my initial product launch.”

Collin Stoner, an electrical engineering student, was also one of the first to register at the ESC. His Selene Photonics and Automation, which will manufacture drivers for electric motors, was just created, and he appreciates the business aspect of the center.

“I am an engineering student with little business experience. The ESC advisors have filled the gap in my business smarts, making my venture possible,” he said.

Bonnie Holland, director of the Jutila Center, stressed the importance of access to expertise.

“Both Jon and I are located in the building to help,” Holland said. “Partnership of the two landlords [Finlandia University and MTEC SmartZone] is bringing the entrepreneurship program forward.”

Local business leaders and industry professionals will also be tapped to help the entrepreneurs start their businesses, the press release said.

“With assistance from business mentors, most entrepreneurs will be able to complete the start-up steps, then locate into one of the local business incubators to keep growing,” Leinonen said.

For more information on the center, contact Jon Leinonen at 487-7004 or info@escenter.biz .


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


Pitching the Next Big Thing: Elevator Pitch Competition 2010

Jess Tompkins, 2010 Michigan Tech Elevator Pitch Competition winner!

In a packed lecture hall at Michigan Technological University, future entrepreneurs were strutting their elevator pitches in an annual competition to see who could best sell their business plan in three minutes or less–the average time it takes to ride an elevator.

It was fast, furious, fun and financially rewarding for some.

Master of Ceremonies Bob Mark, professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics, kept the pace quick, and the only pauses came between speeches, while the judges voted.

The pitches were as diverse as they were captivating.

Michael Pelletier was hawking Metro Safety Products, a GPS-based system for tracking school buses and the children who ride them, so mom and dad can monitor their progress from home. That way, Junior doesn’t have to go to the bus stop too early, and his parents and school personnel can rest a little easier, knowing exactly where he is located.

Beyanka Sutton and Emerald Gary promoted Essence of Ebony, while they rode with Professor Mark on the “elevator” at the front of the room. Their idea? To create a mobile hair salon for women of color in the UP, since existing services tend to be too expensive and too hard to find. Mark sounded sold on the idea, saying: “Why don’t we talk, ladies.”

A local high school student even tried her hand. Whitney Crist, a senior at Hancock High dual enrolled at Michigan Tech, presented the Whipper Snacker, a program to teach young children about entrepreneurship by training their parents to help. Crist also presented one of the potential products, chocolate chip cookies, to the judges for sampling.

As hard as the judges’ task was, they had to determine winners, in addition to the Audience Favorite Award, which went to Bobby Cheesman and Dan Madrid. They “created” Tasty Tape, an edible adhesive to keep food like tacos and burgers from falling apart, replacing the ubiquitous toothpicks. They had a little help: their fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma, was present in full force.

Third place in the judging went to Yooper T’s, by Shawn Peterson and Ibrahim Ndaou. They proposed creating shirts on demand for tourists in the UP, initially based on the CDs by the musical group, Da Yoopers. They would expand to create shirts for events such as Winter Carnival and the Professional Road Rally: unique, one-of-kind keepsakes. They took home $250.

The runners-up, who won $500, were Alex Cotton and Connor Callihan, with EZ Locks. This iPhone-triggered system allows someone with arms full of groceries, as demonstrated by Callihan, to unlock the front door without spilling the sacks. Their slogan: “Coming home every day should be EZ.”

Top winner was Jess Tompkins, with her Two Bows business: affordable hunting apparel for women. “With a bow in the hand, and one in your hair, you’ll look good anywhere,” she proclaimed. She said she was inspired by hunting trips with her dad, starting when she was in diapers, and by years of seeing women wearing unflattering clothes on hunting trips.

“I’ve already talked to a manufacturer in Virginia,” she said as she spoke of rolling out initial offerings of camouflage shirts, winter and fall jackets, and some “flannel that is really warm but never looks right on women.”

She pocketed ten $100 bills (with Ben Franklin on them looking encouraging), and as the winners gathered on the podium afterwards, one of her fellow students shouted, “Hey Jess, are you taking us all to Applebees?”

She seemed to have bigger and and more entrepreneurial plans for the money.

Posted by Dennis Walikainen.

Read this story on the Michigan Tech News website.

Michigan Technological University (mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.