Tag: MTEC SmartZone

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 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.