4B Wednesday January 8, 2014 // The Statement
Wednesday, J ry 8, 2014/SB
The Silicon aitten
Michigan's changing entrepreneurial landscape
Its gone viral. It's all across campus. It's not
an app, but in recent years, it's a movement
buzzing with energy all across phone
screens, Facebook profiles, posting walls.
And it's rapidly evolving.
by K.C. Wassman, Daily Staff Reporter
Zurbuchen's new role as senior entrepreneurial adviser may
not seem as consequential as the opening of two entrepreneurial
powerhouses. However, his appointment marks an important
shift in the way entrepreneurship at the University works: from
the individual to the collaborative group. One of Zurbuchen's
jobs is to design an academic program in entrepreneurship
which will be available to all majors, which is a stark contrast
from where the different entrepreneurial programs started.
Originally, Zell Lurie and the Center for Entrepreneurship
stayed in their respective corners: Zell Lurie in the Ross School
of Business on Central Campus, and the Center for Entrepre-
neurship in the Duderstadt Center on North Campus - primar-
ily supporting only their home communities.
As the buzz around entrepreneurship grew, so did students'
desire to utilize both Zell Lurie and the Center for Entrepre-
neurship, regardless of whether or not they were majoring in
business or engineering.
Mary Lemmer was one of those students. Lemmer started
Iorio's Gelateria with her brother Nick while she was in high
school, and decided to come to the University to further her
entrepreneurial ventures through Zell Lurie. However, when
she learned about the Center for Entrepreneurship's speaker
series, she decided to try and attend those classes as well as
Zell Lurie's. Though it was difficult, Lemmer worked with both
departments and was eventually allowed to take the courses
with both Zell Lurie and the Center for Entrepreneurship.
The Center for Entrepreneurship offers about 40 courses
available to students from other colleges, a 9-credit Program in
Entrepreneurship certificate program, and collaborations with
Zell Lurie on many different programs includingthe Masters in
Entrepreneurship program, a joint degree from the College of
Engineering and the Ross School of Business which was started
in the fall of 2011.
"If I would describe (the Center for Entrepreneurship) in
comparison to a company's life cycle, it was the early-stages of
really focused entrepreneurial resources for students on cam-
pus, and now they've grown a lot, which is great to see," Lem-
A growing resource hub
Apart from expanding programs to other schools, the
University has increased the available resources to student
entrepreneurs. The University's TechArb is a student startup
accelerator program run between the Center for Entrepreneur-
ship and Zell Lurie, and gives student startup teams the office
space to work on their businesses. Nestled in the lower level
of an office building on East Liberty Street, the TechArb also
offers other resources besides physical office space, such as
mentors and introductions with venture capitalists.
Like many students, University alum Jason Bornhorst didn't
come to the University thinking he'd delve into entrepreneur-
ship. He thought he'd get his degree in computer science, gradu-
ate and get into the startup scene later. Instead, Bornhorst got
involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship and later found-
ed MadeVentures - a student group which together to talk about
University-based startups in Bornhorst's apartment over beer.
Bornhorst founded the group initially because he felt there
wasn't a central place for student entrepreneurs to gather and
share ideas, but eventually with help from faculty and a local
real estate company, Bornhorst and the students of MadeVen-
tures became the first class in the TechArb.
Since graduating in 2009, Bornhorst has founded his own
software company, Filament Labs. He's returned to the Uni-
versity since graduating and recently spoke at the Center for
Entrepreneurship's Entrepreneurship Hour Speaker Series.
Bornhorst said he was impressed with both the students he met
after speaking, as well as the progress the University has made
in helpingastudent entrepreneurs.
"I think it's incredible. I think students have access to a ton of
new resources today," he said. "For example, I would never feel
the need to start MadeVentures today based on what I perceive
to be available from the University just since graduating."
While the TechArb has been around campus a long time -
for a startup - the Center for Entrepreneurship is currently
working on a new resource for student entrepreneurs called
MEngage._ _ _
MEngage is a new program that focuses on growing entre-
preneurial programs outside of the University to make the pro-
grams on campus stronger. The two programs will be based out
of Grand Rapids and the Bay Area of California, and both will
work to connect students with successful entrepreneurs who
operate in the same sector. ____
Tom Frank, executive director of the Center for Entrepre-
neurship, characterized the program as "match.com" for entre-
"For me the goal is to match the best talent to the best
advice," Frank said. "I don't mean to oversimplify it, but getting
good advice from someone who knows (and) understands the
business sector you're operating in can make all the difference
in the world in terms of how fast you move forward with your
Frank added that while both locations have the same mis-
sion, they will do different work based on their locations. The
Grand Rapids hub will revolve around creating more opportu-
nities for students to explore design manufacturing innovation
in the state. Frank said this will include anything from finding"'
more internships to helping students build relationships with
Michigan incubators and accelerators. Furthermore, the Grand
Rapids hub will attempt to create an easier path for students
who want to stay in-state to build their company.
In contrast, the Bay Area hub will focus on long-distance
mentoring between experts in the area, and students in Ann
Arbor. Frank said participants will be using Skype video
screens to help facilitate the relationships and leveraging the
University's expansive alumni network to find mentors.
Both locations of MEngage are set to launch in the first few
months of 2014.
Changes by the leaders and the best
From new events to new CSG committees, entrepreneurship
has infiltrated the minds of the student body.
Many of the most recent student-lead changes can be attrib-
uted to University alum Manish Parikh, former CSG President,
who ran on a platform of promoting entrepreneurship on cam-
pus and followed through on his campaign promise.
During his tenure, CSG dedicated 10 of its 59 executive proj-
ects to the entrepreneurial community, which included the cre-
ation of an entrepreneurship commission.
The commission, which has been renewed for the semester,
is comprised of leaders from student organizations that focus
on entrepreneurship, and aims to shape the University with
the top student-driven entrepreneurial culture in the country.
Since its inception, the commission has worked hard to promote
entrepreneurship on campus, including hosting a "Month of
Entrepreneurship" in March 2013.
The month was a six-week period comprised of over 30
events featuring entrepreneurial topics. It included events like
the inaugural MHacks, which has become one of the largest
student hackathons in the country, and will be hosting its third
hackathon this month. The Month of Entrepreneurship was
well received not only on campus, but also by the Obama admin-
istration. The White House dedicated a blog post to the Uni-
versity's Month of Entrepreneurship, where they interviewed
Parikh about the event as well as growing entrepreneurship oe
When talking to Parikh on a long-distance phone call from
India, it's hard not to hear the smile in his voice when he talks
about entrepreneurship at the University. While discussing the
entrepreneurship commission, he sounds like a proud parent.
And when it shifts to the White House his tone switches to one
See ENTREPRENEURIAL, Page 6B
across the University, from MPowered events to
E ntrepreneurship. These days, it's a buzzword heard
student startups. Entrepreneurial efforts abound us
on campus, but its role at the University is hard to
define. If it can be defined by one trait, it's the ongoing process
"Change" is a fitting definition for the entrepreneurial cli-
mate on campus - with an increased focus on the topic over the
last year and a half alone. In 2013, there have been two hack-
athons, a "Month of Entrepreneurship" and a newly created
entrepreneurial adviser position. With another hackathon rap-
idly approaching and the Central Student Government's Com-
mission for Entrepreneurship renewed for another semester, it
seems last year's change is only the beginning.
The rising'rock stars of the world'
You may be hearing more about entrepreneurship on cam-
pus, but it's hardly a new concept. It's a spirit politicians say
America was built on, and the increase in entrepreneurship on
campus mirrors a national trend. According to a 2012 Global
Entrepreneurship Monitor reporton the United States, total
entrepreneurial activity is at its highest level since 1999.
Though it's hard to determine exactly when this increasing
trend toward entrepreneurship started, Stewart Thornhill,
executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneur-
ial Studies, believes it comes from a changing business model in
the United States.
"The current generation of students - whether they're
undergraduate or graduate students - grew up in the period of
time when there was a real loss of faith in the long-term, big-
company employment model that their parents and their par-
ents' parents had gone through," Thornhill said. "There were
all these huge employers which had previously been seen as
very stable forms of employment ... now all (of a) sudden (they)
are not so stable anymore. Your job could literally disappear
Apart from the changing business model, Thornhill also
cited increased media coverage, a new social culture and the
desire for people to control their own destiny as reasons for
the growth in entrepreneurship in the United States, and con-
sequently, on campus. Thornhill said "Shark Tank" - an ABC
television show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to receive
funding from investors - is a prime example of how entrepre-
neurship is infiltrating popular culture.
"The entrepreneurs are now the rock stars of the world,"
Thornhill said. "They're on TV programs and magazine covers.
So you've got this whole sexiness thing that 20 years ago wasn't
really associated with starting your own business."
Indeed, there are many well known entrepreneurial "rock
stars" nowadays, Mark Zuckerberg being one of the most
famous. Zuckerberg started Facebook in his early 20s while a
student at Harvard University, and has since turned his dorm-
room project into a multi-billion dollar empire - increasing
his personal net worth to $19 billion in the process, according
to Forbes. Engineering junior Chris O'Neil serves as the cur-
rent president of MPowered, an active student entrepreneur-
ial group on campus that seeks to unite and enhance student
startup culture. O'Neil said during his time at the University,
there has been an increase in student entrepreneurial involve-
ment and believes it can partially be attributed to a "Mark Zuck-
"It's definitely more known than it used to be," O'Neil said.
"Everybody knows that a couple of kids that went to Stanford
started Snapchat, and just got offered $3 billion. ... Whether
you're interested in entrepreneurship or not, you're going to
know about that story. It builds this awareness of entrepreneur-
ship and you can get people thinking."
A student movement
Thomas Zurbuchen, now the senior adviser for entrepre-
neurial education, has spearheaded entrepreneurship on cam-
pus during his time at the University. In 2008, he started the
Center for Entrepreneurship, a resource hub for campus start-
ups and students interested in created new businesses. While
originally exclusive to engineering students, the Center has
since expanded its program availability to most students at the
Zurbuchen said the increase in entrepreneurial opportuni-
ties from the University initially came as a result of increased
student demand, adding that he founded the Center for Entre-
preneurship for the students - not for institutional prestige.
"In many ways I think Michigan entrepreneurship, as
opposed to other schools, is entrepreneurship that has started
bottom-up," Zurbuchen said. "It turns out that students have
taken tremendous ownership of entrepreneurship."
Zurbuchen cited the number of entrepreneurial-minded
clubs on campus as an example of student initiative. MPowered
was one of the first entrepreneurial student groups on campus
when it was founded in 2006, but is now one of 16 listed on the
Center for Entrepreneurship's website and one of almost 50 on
campus, according to Zurbuchen.
While entrepreneurship was primarily pushed by students in
the beginning, Zurbuchen said the current entrepreneurial cli-
mate is beingsupported by both the students and the University
"What's really interesting about this movement on campus is
that it comes from both directions," Zurbuchen said. "I think it
is a coincidence of sorts that the students see this as absolutely
critically important and something that they can act on, but we
at the University-level see it as absolutely essential and a huge
opportunity for the University to have an impact ... in our state,
and in our future of the U.S., and the world."
Changing an institution
The switch to entrepreneurship overdrive may have been
slow at the University through the lens of the fast-paced startup
world, but for an institution that's turning 200 in three years,
the shift is fairly quick.
Over the course of the last 15 years, the University has seen
large amounts of entrepreneurial growth. Zell Lurie was
founded in 1999, the Center for Entrepreneurship in 2008 and
Zurbuchen's role expanded to help foster entrepreneurship on
campus in 2013.