Professor Jim Price Advises on Common Entrepreneur Mistakes

Professor Jim Price shared his expertise with on the 10 most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when they’re pitching venture capital firms—from failing to understand how venture capital firms work to pitching financials that lack credibility. Be sure to check out the full article here for more things to avoid to ensure a successful meeting.

#ZellChat #2: Michigan Business Challenge 101

We hosted our second Twitter chat earlier this month and wanted to share the content for anyone who wasn’t able to follow along live. This chat focused on student business competitions at the Institute, specifically the Michigan Business Challenge (MBC).

If you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @ZellLurie. Look out for our next #ZellChat in early 2015!

  1. Is MBC the only business competition Zell students participate in?
    • Teams that reach Round 2 of the Michigan Business Challenge are eligible for consideration to participate in intercollegiate competitions.
    • Those MBC teams receive coaching and financial support to prep and compete in competitions at Rice, Austin, and others.
  2. What are three things you recommend addressing in the pitch?
    • Be clear about the problem you are solving. The judges want to hear a real pain point.
    • Describe your solution clearly and concisely. The judges should know exactly what your business is after the pitch.
    • Team team team! Tell the judges why you are the right team to solve this problem.
  3. What advice would you give to teams heading into competition?
    • Play to the strengths of team members, but acknowledge gaps in your skills. If you make it to Round 2, try to fill those gaps.
    • Take advantage of the many resources available to you at the Institute – office hours and startup workshops.
    • The Institute posts all workshop handouts/presentations on Ctools in the CLI/MBC folder.
  4. If we’re in the competition, when can we expect to hear if we made it to Round 2?
    • If your MBC team is selected to move on to Round 2 you’ll be notified on Monday 12/8 via email.
    • MBC Round 2 takes place on Friday, January 23. To help prepare your deliverables, attend our startup workshops.
  5. What do the MBC 2015 winners get?
    • Thanks to our corporate sponsor Fitbit, winners will receive a Fitbit tracker, aria scale, and other gear.
    • The winner of MBC will receive $20,000 and can win other awards like $5,000 for best cross-functional team.
    • The winner of the MBC Social Impact Track will receive $15,000 and can win other awards like best marketing for $2,500.
    • MBC competitors will be pitching in front of potential investors – real VCs!
  6. Who were some of the previous winners and where are they now?
    • Movellus, a patent-pending clock generator technology for the microprocessor market, was a 2014 winner.
    • Flipsi Bottle, a reusable drinking bottle that flips completely inside out for easy cleaning, was the 2014 runner up.
    • MyDerm Portal, a web-based platform for dermatologists to provide follow-up treatment, was a 2014 finalist.
    • Grant Hugh and Cavan Canavan of Focus Motion were our 2013 winners and are in LA going strong!

Executive Director Stewart Thornhill joins Michigan Radio’s Stateside

The Institute’s executive director Stewart Thornhill joined Michigan Radio on air yesterday for “Stateside with Cynthia Canty,” a program focusing on policy issues and news in Michigan. Thornhill addressed why continued success of entrepreneurs is vital to economic growth in Michigan and beyond.

To listen to the complete interview, visit the Michigan Radio website here.

Ross student featured in Los Angeles Times

This week, Ross student Nydia Cardenas and the Social Venture Fund were featured in The Los Angeles Times article, “Beyond profits: Millennials embrace investing for social good.” In the article, Cardenas says Wall Street needs a makeover, and she thinks finance can be used in a positive way to transform society.

In addition to studying for her MBA at Ross, Cardenas is on this year’s leadership team for the Social Venture Fund, which invests in and supports innovative companies that place social and environmental impact at the heart of their business model.

Be sure to check out the full article on the LA Times website here.

Former Entrepreneur of the Year’s latest venture connects millennials with career advice

Dan Morse (BBA ’13) earned a hefty list of accolades while studying at Ross, so it’s no surprise the latest venture he’s joined has taken off. recently added more than 5,000 industry experts to its advice marketplace where students, graduates and anyone making a career move can seek advisors with experience across various industries.

Morse serves as VP of Marketing for Wisewords, which was founded by CEO Dawson Whitfield in 2013. The company has connected millennials with a database of successful professionals for phone calls on everything from tailored career advice to resume feedback and mock interviews.

Wisewords isn’t Morse’s first experience with a startup. While at Ross, he founded The Beet Box, a food truck concept he launched as a student. Morse took home third place at the Undergraduate Venture Capital investment Competition and was a $5,000 Dare to Dream Integration Grant winner in 2012.

Morse also received the BBA Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Zell Lurie Institute in 2013 for founding Beet Box, which aimed to support, motivate and reward a healthy lifestyle through a naturally oriented, healthy fast food cart.

For more on Morse’s current venture Wisewords, visit the company’s website.

Entrepreneurial Ventures Course Offered to EMBA Students

The Institute is once again raising the standard in entrepreneurial education and action-based learning by offering a new course, EMBA 606 – Entrepreneurial Ventures, which will enable participants to sharpen their ability to find and evaluate opportunities for a new venture, as well as to think creatively and solve problems in highly unstructured situations. Back by popular demand after its trial offering, the course is available to executive MBA (EMBA) students in the 2015 winter term.

Taught by Professor Len Middleton, the course will cover a broad range of topics essential to leading entrepreneurial ventures, including idea generation, feasibility analysis, starting a company, raising capital, building a business plan, attracting a team, preparing for growth, corporate innovation and buying a business. During the course, teams will develop a feasibility and business model with a venture capital pitch presentation. The course will draw on a broad selection of readings, class lectures and discussions, case studies, guest speakers and videos.

“CEOs today are worried about keeping up with the changing business world – they want to work with entrepreneurs to feed the innovation beast,” said Len Middleton, faculty member in the Strategy and Entrepreneurial Studies department at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. “Most corporations are looking for individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset who can create and build new products and services in order to stay competitive – this new mindset will require EMBAs to have entrepreneurial skills. This course will help executives develop skills that will help them compete in an agile, creative workforce, whether it’s in their own ventures or as part of an established organization.”

Ross student leverages entrepreneurial EMBA course
Dr. Ali Safiedine, EMBA ’14 and a student of the initial Entrepreneurial Ventures course, currently serves as CEO of NEMO Capital Partners. Prior to the course, Safiedine invested in a distressed electronic health record (EHR) and revenue management company that was on the verge of shutting down and leaving thousands of physicians in the lurch. He and his business partners had to move very quickly, and became a sponsor company of Ross’ Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP), where students of the course worked side by side with Middleton and Safiedine to devise a business plan for the company.

“As both the EMBA student and the CEO of the sponsored company, I experienced a very unique situation where I was encouraged to learn and lead at the same time,” Safiedine said. “My biggest take away from the course – aside from the invaluable business planning help my partners and I received – was the confidence it instilled in me. Because of my work with Ross, I feel more self assured in my business decisions and capabilities as a leader.”

There are currently 83 students enrolled in the 2015 winter course. For more information about the course, please view the Ross course list.

Forecast 2015: Stewart Thornhill on entrepreneurial trends

With the New Year right around the corner, get up to date on all the up and coming trends in entrepreneurship from the Institute’s executive director Stewart Thornhill. You can view all of Thornhill’s thoughts on the state of entrepreneurship in 2015 here.


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