By Tina Ray
The Broad College of Business supports efforts to develop entrepreneurship and innovation skills across the university—and these efforts have been widely successful over the past academic year, launching Spartans and their ventures into the exciting startup community.
MSU dominated the field of this year’s Student Startup Madness tournament, representing 12 teams in the field of 64—twice as many as the next closest school—and had the most teams competing in the semi-finals. Spartan startup Roze Inc. advanced to the Entrepreneurial Eight and was invited to pitch at the Student Startup Madness Finals and Championship event at the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) in Austin.
Students in the Full-Time MBA program coupled their creative sides with learned business skills through “Extreme Green” innovation and ideation workshops. To create new business ideas and learn how to bring those ideas forward with viable business plans, students participated in everything from improv comedy training to creativity training from MSU’s president and those who prepare Procter & Gamble executives.
One Extreme Green session provided students with access to top-secret General Motors intellectual property and tasked them with brainstorming new initiatives to pitch to GM vice presidents and managers. The winning student team visited the 2016 North American International Auto Show as the guest of GM leadership.
Broad juniors Jarett Lazare (BA Marketing ’17) and Danny Meltser (BA Finance ’17) won a $10,000 prize for their startup Bringitt at “Swim with the Sharks,” a contest held during the National Automatic Merchandising Association OneShow, in which students pitched to “Shark Tank” celebrity entrepreneur judges Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec. They also received honorable mention at the Baylor New Venture Competition. Bringitt provides a peer-to-peer shipping network accessed through a mobile app that connects users to transport items between campus and home.
At the 5th annual Broad Business Model Competition, a major project of Broad’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, graduate and undergraduate students pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of winning a cash prize as seed money for their startups. Ideas presented ranged from mobile apps to specialized medical products.
One winner, Spartan Assays, co-led by Mark Oliver (MBA ’17), went on to win the second prize of $10,000 in the 2016 GreenLight Business Model Competition for its product, a handheld device that law enforcement can use to test people for marijuana (THC levels) in 15 minutes.
Bailey Paxton (BA Business Preference ’19) has been traveling the country for nearly a year, networking and meeting investors to get his medical device company licensed and the product manufactured. He presented his startup to thousands at SXSW and placed seventh out of 70 in the Innovation Showcase, the most prestigious startup showcase for the Midwest.
Meanwhile, freshman Jordan Shelby (BA Finance ’19) launched Snatch, a mobile app that allows users to recall text messages. Since its launch in January, Snatch has been downloaded all over the Americas, London and Rome.
Alumnus Adam Stevens (BA Marketing ’04), recently named one of the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s “35 Under 35,” commented that his studies prepared him to start his own business.
“Learning how to thrive as a small fish in a big pond was one of the most important lessons I learned,” Stevens said.
With the launch of the university-wide undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship and innovation this past semester, even more Spartans will have the opportunity to get swimming.