By Caroline Brooks
Like a boomerang, the “Dan Gilbert effect” launched from Detroit, is circling East Lansing, and will return to the Motor City. Quicken Loans Family of Companies (QLFOC) and the Eli Broad College of Business have piloted a program that taps the college’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation program to help Quicken companies solve real business issues.
“We’ve called this program ‘The Art of Starting: Ideation and Externship’ because it gives both partners—the students and the companies—a chance to start building something valuable,” said Forrest (Sam) Carter, Broad College associate professor and faculty director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
By engaging with Broad College students and entrepreneurs through The Art of Starting, students are connecting with the business partners early on, which creates a sense of pride and commitment to the Detroit startup community for the students.
This pilot program is new and unique, and unlike typical case studies that happens in most classrooms. “Students get their first experience with a living and breathing startup entrepreneurial venture,” Carter explained. “The QLFOC offers exposure to the latest business tools and techniques, as well as thorough, data-driven recommendations for growth challenges for our innovative students, he said.
Anyone familiar with Detroit’s resurgence can point to Quicken Loans and CEO Dan Gilbert, a Spartan alumnus himself, as having one of the heaviest hands in the movement. Just last month, Quicken announced it would buy 80 foreclosed Detroit homes to sell to current renters who want to build equity. No different is the company’s investment in students who can contribute to the city’s workforce.
“It is very important for the Broad College and the Burgess Institute to provide support and engage with the Michigan business community; and although our efforts are certainly statewide, we fully understand the significance of having our students working with Detroit-based companies,” said Ken Szymusiak, managing director of the Burgess Institute. “The city has seen such a resurgence in entrepreneurial spirit in the last few years that we need to make sure our students are aware of the incredible opportunities that are presented there,” he said.
With this experience, students will walk away with a new understanding for the emerging business culture in Motor City. “Partnering with Quicken Loans enables our students to get a firsthand look at some of the amazing people that are working every day to make Detroit a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation,” Szymusiak said.
The partnership is currently running for the 2017-2018 academic year and involves 350 startup hungry Spartans in Szymusiak’s class. At the beginning of the fall 2017 semester, Szymusiak divided students into teams to review business cases from the Quicken Loans companies. At the end of this semester, after the faculty vets their recommendations, students will present their proposals to the Quicken Loans business partners. The winners will have the opportunity to move on to Carter’s honors class and work directly, including on site, with the Quicken Loans Family of Companies in their Detroit offices throughout the spring 2018 semester.
“Students who advance will be guaranteed priority consideration for direct hire internship openings for summer 2018 and fall 2018, depending on class standing,” Carter said. “Winners who see implementation through will earn a day of exclusive activities in Detroit with opportunities to network with Quicken Loans team members and leaders.”