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471 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

College of Music endowment encourages MSU music students to become entrepreneurs

The Withrow Career Building Endowment in the College of Music, created by long time donors and supporters Jack and Dottie Withrow, is helping talented students gain the skills they will need no matter what type of career they pursue. Though, the intent, says David Rayl of the College of Music, “is to give them the chance to pursue non-traditional music careers that will enhance the community.” 

There are a wide range of goals surrounding the endowment and a major one is to help students develop an entrepreneurial mind set that will lead to valuable, art-related businesses within the community. “The presence of art in a community makes it more vibrant,” says Rayl. The purpose of this endowment is to show students there are a lot of ways to make a living and contribute to the community with a music degree. 

Funds from the endowment give support to a wide range of activities. A music business class teaches students how to put together a business plan, and guest speakers that come in from the community include successful alumni that have taken non-traditional paths. 

While many of the students will become performers or play in orchestras, they can’t be present in the community if they can’t make a living. This endowment helps them do just that. 

Source: David Rayl, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Music
?Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Driver on Tap hiring drivers, aims to eliminate drunk driving

While some may compare Driver on Tap to Lansing's recent addition, Uber, they are more than simply a ride share program; they are trying to solve a dangerous and disturbing problem. Michigan has the highest number of DUI's per capita, Driver on Tap wants to help lower this number and eventually eliminate the problem. 

"There is absolutely no reason to drink and drive," says Founder Jose Ramirez, "especially when there are services like this." This service provides an option for those that don't want to drive, but don't want to leave their car behind. If you have been drinking and needs a ride, simply call Driver on Tap and they will get to you and drive you home in your own car. 
They are in the process of hiring and before they launch at the end of the month will have hired at least 10 drivers with the hope of eventually hiring 50-100. The hiring process could take a while though since, as Ramirez states "we have to be very comfortable with who we hire." 

Driver on Tap will launch on August  27th at The Hatching at Beggar's Banquet. "We will learn a lot in the first three months," says Ramirez, and then, "Ideally we will completely eliminate DUI's in the area." 

Source: Jose Ramirez, Founder
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Greenlight Bootcamp educates, prepares entrepreneurs

In two weeks the The Greenlight Entrepreneurial Boot Camp will help first-time entrepreneurs through the beginning stages of starting a business. A partnership between Spartan Innovations, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and the MSU Innovation Center, this week-long course will provide all the research and instruction a startup could need in one central location.

Starting on August 18th, the boot camp serves multiple purposes within the startup community. Amber Shinn, Marketing Director for the MSU Innovation Center, says, "The more normalcy we can create around starting businesses and a community that is comfortable with taking business risks, the better for the community."  

It also helps keep entrepreneurs in the community. According to Paul Jaques, Director of Student & Community Engagement at Spartan Innovations, before this program, "we had to send people to Ann Arbor, Detroit, or out of state for similar programs." By offering these resources right in the community, Lansing can provide, " strong curriculum, and built-in integration into the local startup community and support."

In addition to creating a supportive community and hands-on help, the camp also gives these businesses a way to quickly assess the viability of their product or business instead of wasting valuable time and money. It also helps the successful ideas, like Poochie Bowl, quickly move into the hiring stage and contribute to the local economy.
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Source: Amber Shin, Paul Jaques, MSU Innovation Center
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

MEDC announces funds to support entrepreneurship, technology

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced the approval by the Michigan Strategic Fund of Entrepreneurial Service Provider Request for Proposals awards. These awards will, according to Paula Sorrel of the MEDC, go toward creating early stage technology companies and will also generate more than $15 million new investments in the state. "We are focused on creating a strong pipeline of companies," says Sorrel.

The funds are going toward entrepreneur services all across the state, and $500,000 is coming into Lansing through the Michigan State University Foundation and Spartan Innovations. The funds will be distributed over two years to help grow the GreenLight Business Model Competition. The last GreenLight Competition had nine universities compete, which according to Sorrel is an impressive number. She says it's the basis for a strong pipeline, a pipeline they hope to grow.

The MEDC tracked 30 new tech companies in the state last year, and the hope is that with these awards, that number will grow. "The tech sector is always evolving and we are trying to evolve with it," says Sorrel.

Other approved proposals came from programs such as, Invest Detroit, Ann Arbor SPARK, NextEnergy, BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting, Inforum Center for Leadership, UofM Center for Entrepreneurship and the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

Source: Paula Sorrel, MEDC
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor 

The Hatching celebrates one year of supporting entrepreneurs

The Hatching, a pitch competition that allows entrepreneurs with a business idea to win money and grow their business, turns one-year-old this week.

In its first year the competition has helped create 18 jobs and form 12 companies, companies that, according to Tony Willis of Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), may not have gotten their ideas heard otherwise.

The Hatching, a joint effort between Spartan Innovations and LEAP, is a monthly event and the winners of each session are given not only prize money but access to resources that can otherwise be pricey and difficult to obtain such as legal help (provided by Loomis Law) and marketing assistance (from Michigan Creative).

There have been many successes out of the Hatching, including the most televised success, Swaddle-mi-Billi, a wearable jaundice treatment for infants. The company was featured on a startup reality show on A&E and it has become a mainstream product. Other successes include, Eightfold Marketing, Go Green Trikes, Poochie Bowl, What's Mapnin' (who won the year-end Grand prize) and more. All of these companies are growing, hiring, and contributing to economic development in Lansing.  "All of these businesses saw a common problem, and solved it," says Willis, "They created a business that can revolutionize that area."

In their second year, LEAP and Spartan Innovations hope to double the numbers from the Hatching's first year. They hope to see more attendance, more submissions and more jobs.

Source: Tony Willis, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 
 
 

New Greater Lansing Food Bank program shares farm fresh vegetables, creates farmers

The Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) has announced a program through the Lansing Roots farm program designed to fight hunger, create jobs, and help people provide for themselves and their community. The model, called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), is a weekly vegetable subscription that connects local farmers and food consumers. After one payment at the beginning the season, subscribers then receive a box of produce containing 10-15 different items, each week for 20 weeks.

The program also has a low income option, so that low income families have access to affordable, fresh produce. Subscriptions can also be paid for using SNAP/EBT and Double-Up Food Bucks.  According to Alex Bryan, the program manager, it's a great way to connect farmers to those that need food and cut out the middle man.

They are not only feeding families in need, but are also creating jobs by providing the tools, support and marketing components for those that want to farm but may not have the resources or funding to get started. The program provides 10 acres in Mason that was donated to charity as the land the farmers utilize. This two-fold approach is the GLFB's way of assuring there is enough food in the community. According to Bryan, "The biggest anti-hunger movement is economic development," and this program strives to contribute to that.

Source: Alex Bryan, Program Director
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 

Poochie Bowl kicks off production, manufactured in Lansing

Poochie Bowl, the "eargonomically" designed food and water bowl made especially for dogs with long or furry ears, has officially kicked off production in Lansing. The dish keeps your pet's ears out of their water bowl, keeping them dry, clean and free of infection. It is being manufactured right here by the local Diamond Engineering. "We always knew we wanted to keep it in Lansing," says Vice President, Christopher Allen.

Poochie Bowl is currently on sale at Preuss Pets, Annabelle's Pet Station and at stores in Petosky and Grand Haven. They also offer online sales. They are excited to be in production after ten months and have plans to eventually expand nationally.
As they grow, and produce more bowls, they expect Diamond Engineering will have to add to their staff. Poochie Bowl themselves plans to add 2-3 jobs to their company within the next 3-6 months, most likely in the areas of shipping and office work.

You can also find Poochie Bowl on the road, traveling and promoting at events such as Lansing's 4th of July Parade. It may not be the way most companies promote, but it's working for them. "It's a unique way of doing things," says Allen, "But we're a unique company."

Source: Chris Allen, Poochie Bowl
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 

Turtle Cell, student startup, creates unique product

Michigan State University students have teamed up with students from the University of Michigan to produce a totally unique product.

Turtlecell is a cell phone case that solves the problem of constantly tangled, lost, or broken headphones by storing them right in the case. Its unique design allows the headphones to slide easily in and out for super simple storage.

Turtlecell opened for pre-orders last week and have already received hundreds of orders, even before advertising. They have already received 2 offers for retail sales and expect to be in at least 6,000 stores by Christmas.

Because of this growth, Turtlecell has recently hired an MSU Law Graduate and will be turning to the MSU Career Fair to search out more local talent. "We’ve found some really talented people," says Jeremy Lindlbauer, Director of Sales and Marketing, "and the goal is to grow. We want those really motivated students."

To get where they are, they've utilized many local resources such as The Hatch to provide help with funding, web design, packaging, and more.

With over 100,000 units expected to be produced in the next 3 months, Turtlecell's momentum is not slowing down. They also have plans to produce a case with a battery and eventually have a completely customizable, personal product.
 
Source: Jeremy Lindlbauer, Turtlecell
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 

Hunt for Points and discover culture in your community

A scavenger hunt app created to help community members discover culture in their own community will be releasing an updated version.  The concept for Pointillism was inspired by the Dirty Feet Adventure race whose tag line is ‘Never Stop Exploring’.

“We wanted to create a similar experience that people could do on their own time,” said Jeff Smith, CEO. “We wanted people to get out into the community and discover it in a fun way.”

 Smith and his team partnered with Lansing Give Camp to create the early stages of the app and eventually developed Pointillism into a mobile map where users could check in to unique local sites and earn points on a leaderboard.
The new version will allow users to create private scavenger hunts with as many points of interest as they want. The potential for commercial use is extensive. Michigan State University is interested in setting up a private hunt for incoming freshman to help them get familiar with the campus. This feature is available for a fee with a cost structure based on the amount of users able to participate.

Pointillism has already been utilized by participants of Be A Tourist In Your Own Town.

 “People may not know the awesome things in their own community. Pointillism works to provide users with an insider’s view on a new community while competing against others.” said Smith.
 
 Source: Jeff Smith, Pointillism
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Two Men and a Truck launches Career Move Month

Two Men and a Truck launches Career Move Month in March with a goal of accepting 10,000 applications and hiring 1,000 people nationwide, 24 people in the Greater Lansing area.

"This is an opportunity to showcase the careers and potential for career advancement with Two Men and a Truck,” said President Randy Shacka. “It’s also a way to proactively plan for the busy season between May and September.”

Career Move Month began in 2013 with 1,000 applicants and 550 people hired nationwide.  The local business has seen impressive growth this year signing their largest number of new franchisees and hitting their highest revenues ever. As a system, their focus turned towards improving sales processes and finding the right people to help continue this growth.

“It was the perfect storm of people, processes and technology.  We had to ask ourselves what we could do differently to sustain our growth,” said Shacka, who originally started as an intern with the expanding company. “Companies do not make great companies. People do.”

The diverse positions available will range from movers and drivers to sales and management. The increase in staffing at the Lansing corporate office will require a 7 million dollar expansion of the Greater Lansing home office. 

In addition to the reinvestment in the economic improvement of the Mid-Michigan area, Two Men and a Truck will donate $5,000 to 5 different Dress for Success locations to support career advancement for low-income women nationwide.
Interested candidates can search for existing opportunities at careers.twomenandatruck.com.

Source: Randy Shacka, Two Men and a Truck
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor


City of East Lansing Geographic Information Site enhanced

The Geographic Information System provided by the City of East Lansing has been enhanced for usability 
and increased information.
 
“The GIS website provides data that people investing in the community would be looking for,” said Lori 
Mullins, Community and Economic Development Administrator for the City of East Lansing. “Although we 
still encourage community members to contact us for assistance on new developments, the GIS website is a good place to start with initial inquiries regarding property.”
 
The website allows for visitors to view layers of information related to parcel ownership, taxable value, zoning and links to market data. All commercial property listed publicly, as well as listings reported to the City of East Lansing is included on the mapping tool.
 
"We recognize the way that people do business today. Whether it’s making plans for vacation or any other activity, people go to the web first,” said Mullins. “If they can find info easily, they’ll have a better experience in the beginning and are more likely to take the next step in making an investment.”
 
The City of East Lansing will continue to add more information as it becomes available and community members are encouraged to submit feedback for improvement in the future.

Source: Lori Mullins, City of East Lansing
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Conferences to help educate emerging cooperatives

The MSU Product Center will be hosting 3 conferences this spring to help groups interested in forming cooperatives answer preliminary questions.

A well rounded group of attorneys, financiers, consumer cooperatives and small cooperative representatives and staff help them investigate what their options might be and discuss topics like 5-year strategic plans, long range planning and financing.

“We want to foster sustainable businesses, said Tom Kalchik, director of the Michigan Cooperative Development Program. “Many times we have individuals working on the same thing. If we can get them to work cooperatively they are in a better position to serve customers rather than trying to compete.”

Growers that work within a cooperative are often times more attractive to buyers because they can deal with one entity for delivery and payment.  A great local example would be the Allen Street Market where they work with growers in the area to deliver food to food hubs that are a part of the project.

Attendees are required to preregister for upcoming conferences. Click here for more information.

Source: Tom Kalchik, Michigan Cooperative Development Program
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

E-commerce community brings student art to area businesses

In October 2013, Victoria Bujney, Ashley Brimley and Caitlin McDonald participated in Startup Weekend Lansing. Within 52 hours they had created a rough concept for Folyo, a social e-commerce community geared toward student artists.

“Even if students had amazing work, they were selling to other students who couldn’t afford their art,” said Bujney, co-founder and CEO of Folyo. “Small and medium businesses don’t have the time or resources to pursue art but they have the budget that can afford student art.”

Folyo creates a bridge between talented artists and a market of small to medium sized businesses that want beautiful original art. The co-founders focus heavily on building a community of art enthusiasts who can get to know and engage with the artists creating their one-of-a-kind piece.  It also provides a space for artists to sell their art as well as an opportunity to learn how to price and eventually market their pieces.

“I think a lot of people, expect something like this to come out of New York and California. We have extreme talent here in Michigan.” said Bujney

Folyo is set to launch in April 2014. There is an open application process for top notch artists in the Michigan area. Visit www.folyo.co for more information.

Ashley Brimley is the Chief Operating Officer and the artist who inspired the idea behind the new venture while Katelyn McDonald serves as the startup's Chief Technical Officer.

Source: Victorie Bujny, Folyo
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

4-H Renewable Energy Camp introduces local students to innovative technologies

Local youth between the ages of 13 and 19 are invited to apply to attend the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp.

Starting June 23rd, students will reside in dorms to experience college life and participate in off campus tours around the state to learn about the unique role the state of Michigan plays in renewable energy.

Topics of study will include solar, wind and cellulose power sources. Instructors will show students the process of growing crops like soy beans, corn and sugar cane specifically for the purpose of converting them into energy that can be utilized by the community they live in.

“It will be a dynamic experience that exposes children to renewable energy and how they might be a part of it,” said Jacob Dedecker, Stem Program Leader for MSU Extension. “We provide youth with examples of what careers look like now and what they may be like in the future.”

There will also be a Teen Challenge component of the camp announced in the future.  Participants will work with leading researchers and industry leaders to find solutions to renewable energy problems and make their own experiments.

While creating awareness for the work that Michigan State University and local industries do within the different facets of renewable energy technology, the camp organizers seek to highlight successes and initial endeavors in the field for students interested in pursuing a career in the field.

The application for the camp is available online here. The cost of the camp is $190 for 4-H members and $200 for non-members. The fee includes meals, lodging and camp materials. 

Source: Jacob Dedecker, MSU Extension
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Cooley Law School supports legal writing competition

Students across the state will compete for prize money, publication and recognition through the Innovation and Intellectual Property (IP) Legal Writing Competition co-sponsored by the Intellectual Property Law Section (IPLS) of the State Bar of Michigan and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
 
“Across the world, the industries generating jobs are those based on new technologies,” emphasized Prof. Barry, “This is one strategy to create an environment statewide where those kinds of business can prosper.”
 
Professor David C. Barry is a Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a private, nonprofit, independent law school and director of the Graduate Program in Intellectual Property Law.
 
“Regardless of where Michigan students eventually practice, they will have more insight into IP and be better equipped to advise their future clients.” stated Barry.
 
Open to all students enrolled in a Michigan law school, the deadline to submit entries is May 15, 2014. The IPLS provides volunteer judges who review the papers and select a winner. In addition to winning prize money, awardees have their original work published in the IPLS Proceedings journal and are recognized at their annual IP seminar in March. 

Source: Professor David C. Barry, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor
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