Meet Jordana Schrager ‘16: Fashionista and Entrepreneur

When Jordana Schrager, BA ‘16, was grounded one night during her sophomore year of high school, instead of moping around she started doodling on a pair of white Vans. She had always loved art, and as her sneaker hobby grew, she began giving sneakers with her custom drawings to her friends.

That hobby eventually grew into a business, Sneakers by Jordana, which Jordana was able to strengthen through social media. She posted photos of her creations on Instagram, and soon she had a long waitlist and was making four to five pairs a week.

Since she had always been interested in business and had a great foundation with her design skills, Jordana, an art and design major, applied for the undergraduate business minor at the Ross School of Business which gave her the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship. Through her courses with Professor Len Middleton, Jordana was able to further grow her business, and is currently working on a group project with other students focused on Sneakers by Jordana.

According to Jordana, Professor Middleton stresses that failure is okay and tells stories of entrepreneurs who experienced failures before eventual success. As someone self-proclaimed as averse to risk, that really affected the way Jordana thought about her business.

“You have to keep taking risks,” said Jordana. “That’s the only way to sustain your business and grow.”

As Sneakers by Jordana began to grow, Jordana wanted to come up with a more efficient process for getting collegiate-themed sneakers, a popular request, made and shipped faster – that’s when SKICKS was born. Through the SKICKS website, customers can order sneakers with their collegiate logo of choice.

For now, the Sneakers for Jordana team includes other art students at the University of Michigan who help by putting the finishing touches on the sneakers after Jordana’s done the initial design outline. Her mother, Meryl Schrager, focuses on sales and family friend Lisa Benedict handles marketing and raising money for SKICKS. Once she graduates, Jordana plans to continue growing Sneakers by Jordana and her other venture, SKICKS. As her businesses continue to expand she’ll almost certainly have to take some risks, but as Professor Middleton taught her, taking those risks is the best way for a business to flourish.

#ZellChat #1: A social media introduction to the Institute

With our second Twitter chat right around the corner on December 4, we wanted to share the content from our first #ZellChat for anyone who wasn’t able to follow along live. Managing director of the Institute, Sarika Gupta, fielded your questions on programs, courses, and other offerings at Zell Lurie.

On Thursday, December 4, she’ll be tackling questions about the upcoming Michigan Business Challenge and other student business plan competitions at the Institute and beyond. Read up on our first Twitter chat below, get some entrepreneurial thoughts flowing, and tweet your questions for Sarika using #ZellChat before or during the December 4 chat.

  1. What types of courses do you offer?
    • ZLI professors teach courses, like New Venture Creation, to help satisfy the entrepreneurial big at Ross.
    • We offer courses through Ross, including Intro to Entrepreneurship, Marketing for Entrepreneurs, and Venture Capital.
  2. How can I get involved in what Zell has to offer?
    • I’d recommend you sign up for courses, clubs, and take advantage of all the available resources for students and alumni.
    • Apply to a venture fund like the Social Venture Fund or Wolverine Fund, or submit your idea to the Michigan Business Challenge.
    • Learn more about MBC here: … Apps due 11/17.
    • Visit the Institute’s website and get involved:
  3. Do you offer clubs or extracurricular activities?
    • Yes! Student-led groups include the Private Equity Club and the Entrepreneur & Venture Club.
    • Mingle ‘n’ Match is a series of casual, networking events that introduces entrepreneurs and potential teammates to one another.
    • We have a robust portfolio of programs that take students from pre-launch to launch, to growth and exit.
  4. How can the Zell Lurie Institute help me get my startup off the ground?
    • The Dare to Dream Grant program takes students through the entire business development process offering workshops, mentors, and funding.
    • The TechArb Student Incubator offers workspace and mentors and will help you launch your business!
    • Companies can apply to annual venture capital event Michigan Growth Capital Symposium to pitch and connect with venture capitalists in Michigan and the Midwest.
  5. What’s the one course you’d recommend students interested in entrepreneurship take?
    • New Venture Creation – teams go from ideation to full business plan and investor presentation in 12 weeks.
  6. Who are some UM alumni that worked with the Zell Lurie Institute?
    • After winning the Michigan Business Challenge in 2013, Cavan CAnavan and Grant Hugh founded wearable fitness device Focus TRAINR.
    • After his 2013 graduation, Ryan Fukuskima used his experience to counsel budding entrepreneurs at TechStars Chicago.

Save the date: Our second @ZellLurie Twitter Chat

Our first #ZellChat was such a success that we want to keep the conversation going! Join us at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, December 4 for another Twitter chat where Sarika Gupta, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute, will take over the @ZellLurie Twitter to tackle all of your questions about the Michigan Business Challenge and other business plan competition opportunities for students.

Round One of competition begins on Friday, December 5 at 1 p.m., so this Twitter chat will serve as a great opportunity for students on competing teams to ask Sarika any last minute questions before the challenge heats up.

Even if you’re not participating in the Michigan Business Challenge, Sarika can answer questions on all student opportunities in business competitions offered through the Institute and beyond.

If you already have a question in mind, please send it to and Sarika will address it during the chat. Feel free to tweet your questions in advance using #ZellChat or ask away during the chat.

Follow the hashtag #ZellChat to keep up with the conversation!

Executive Director Stewart Thornhill to host Reddit AMA on Nov. 19

Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Institute, will be hosting a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. He’ll be available to answer your questions about entrepreneurship education and experiences at the university level and to discuss everything from venture capital to startup businesses.

To join the conversation or follow along, be sure to visit Reddit just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Stewart Thornhill featured on Times Higher Education podcast

Executive Director Stewart Thornhill traveled to London in October where he had the chance to sit down with Times Higher Education to discuss the challenges of teaching entrepreneurship at the university level.

You can listen to Thornhill’s full interview on the Times Higher Education podcast here.

BusinessBecause: Business Schools Become Masters of Entrepreneurship, featuring the Institute

In case you missed it, the Institute was mentioned on BusinessBecause this weekend in this article on business schools mastering entrepreneurship. Be sure to give the full story a read on and check out an excerpt from the article below:

“About 20% of Ross graduate students have started a business plan. “The majority will launch within 5-10 years of graduation after further relationships are established, and funding is secured,” says a spokesperson at Ross’ Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Taught jointly with Michigan’s engineering school, it has a focus on technology and this is a wider trend in the entrepreneurship scene. A cadre of US business schools are rolling out courses which cater for tech entrepreneurs in particular.” – From “Business Schools Become Masters of Entrepreneurship

November: Entrepreneurship Month at Ross

While we always place an emphasis on entrepreneurship, this month Ross is pushing elections and Turkey to the side to highlight National Entrepreneurship Month.

Some of the entrepreneurship-related activity going on in November includes information sessions for the Michigan Business Challenge, our own Executive Director Stewart Thornhill making appearances in Dallas and Los Angeles to meet with prospective Executive MBA students and of course, our Twitter chat taking place on Nov. 13.

Check out more about entrepreneurship at Ross and the activities on the docket for this month here.


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