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Organic Development of a Student Run Accelerator at University of Michigan

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The nearly exponential growth of the entrepreneurial community at University of Michigan (U-M) is largely attributed to the students themselves. In January 2008, U-M launched the Center for …

The nearly exponential growth of the entrepreneurial community at University of Michigan (U-M) is largely attributed to the students themselves. In January 2008, U-M launched the Center for Entrepreneurship to support these students. Through these and other similar efforts, students of like mind on a campus of nearly 40,000, can network, share ideas and pursue their passions. By January 2009, seven students actively involved in their own ventures joined together to find ways to share resources and ideas to accelerate the launch of their ventures.This resulted in the launch of a student run business accelerator, TechArb (techarb.org), in the Summer of 2009. The seven founders secured real estate in downtown Ann Arbor and invited 30 entrepreneurial-minded students, representing seven companies in the music, technology, and biotech industries. This paper discusses the genesis and results of the first U-M student accelerator.


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  • 1. Organic Development of a Student Run  Accelerator at the University of Michigan Aileen Huang‐Saad, Ph.D., Center for Entrepreneurship Jason Bornhorst, U‐M Alumni, Computer Science Department Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Ph.D. College of Engineering Tony Grover, RPM Ventures/Zell Lurie Institute Marc Weiser, RPM Ventures/Center for Entrepreneurship
  • 2. Agenda • U‐M Center for Entrepreneurship Evolution • RPM10 Program – First round • Post ‐ RPM10dklk • RPM10 Round 2 & Evolution of TechArb • Where do we go from here?
  • 3. October 2007 “…innovation and entrepreneurship can help U-M students differentiate themselves in the global economy… http://cfe.engin.umich.edu/
  • 4. CEEPS Recommendations 1. Entrepreneurship Certificate Program 2. Distinguished Innovator Seminar 3. COE Student Entrepreneurship Center 4. Entrepreneurial Opportunities Fair 5. Support COE Student Entrepreneurship Group 6. Simplification and Clarification of Student Intellectual  Transfer Processes 7. Entrepreneurship Grants Program and Entrepreneurial  Fellowship Competition 8. Anchoring in the College of Engineering 9. Entrepreneurial Environment http://cfe.engin.umich.edu/
  • 5. Center for Entrepreneurship The Center for Entrepreneurship exists to empower students, faculty and staff at the University of Michigan to pursue entrepreneurial achievements that improve people’s lives and drive the economies of Michigan, the Nation and the world. Established Winter 2008 http://cfe.engin.umich.edu/
  • 6. Summer 2008 ‐ RPM10 RPM10 is an innovative summer intern program for University of Michigan students with a great idea for a technology-based start up company. During the 10 summer weeks, student teams will develop their idea into a working prototype and lay the groundwork to launch their start-up. • Seeking brilliant, entrepreneurially minded students.   • From idea to prototype in 10 weeks. – Co‐location – Mentoring – Capital • No business plan required. The program is focused on starting a company and building your product.
  • 7. 2008 RPM10 Teams TROUBADOUR MOBILE, Inc.
  • 8. And Then What?  … • Academic year • Loss of co‐location • Result… • 22 members representing 13 companies
  • 9. 2009 RPM Teams
  • 10. 2009 RPM10 Lecture Series Topics • Overview of entrepreneurial experiences • Accounting overview • Software development methodologies • Project management • Innovation • Intellectual property • Entrepreneurial lessons learned • Search engine marketing • State funding and resources for early stage tech startups
  • 11. Summer 2009:  TechArb TROUBADOUR MOBILE, Inc. duazie Code
  • 12. TechArb Video 4:17
  • 13. TechArb 2009 10 Engineering 5 4 School of Information 4 LSA 12 Music and Theatre Business
  • 14. Funding Distribution TechArb Student Ventures Funding ($K) Mobil33t  0 Carrier Mobile 5 Roomations 14 Phonagle 20 Shepherd Intelligent Systems 28 CrowdClarity 27 Backyard Brains 47 The Wojo Group 0 MyBandStock 20 QuazieCode 0 Troubadour Mobile 25 Total Student Generated Funding = $186,000K
  • 15. Funding Sources TechArb Funding MORE Program ($11,000) Dare to Dream: An idea competition by the ZLI and CFE ($22,000) Marcel Gani Internship: A ZLI entrepreneurial internship competition  ($13,000) Michigan Business Challenge:  A ZLI business plan competition ($2,200) RPM10 Program: The CFE entrepreneurship competition ($70,000) Kauffman Post‐Doctorial Fellowship ($45,000) SPARK: An Ann Arbor based business accelerator ($16,800) Center for Entrepreneurship: small specific support of various tasks  ($6,000)
  • 16. Impact • 10 week summer experience • 37 students • 27 press mentions • 1 live iphone application – DoGood – Within 1 month, 43,000 iPhone Users – Featured in Forbes and New York Times • 1 music video • 4 mobile applications in development
  • 17. Value • Alternative Work Environment – Free of Distraction – Attitude – 24/7 Access – Comfort – Conference Rooms/Offices • Entrepreneurial Community – Group Meetings/Feedback Fridays – Guest Speakers
  • 18. AY2009‐2010 • University of Michigan pilots 2 year  continuation of TechArb • Co‐sponsored by: – Center for Entrepreneurship – Zell Lurie Institute – Office of Vice‐President of Research • Rent and Internet
  • 19. Going Forward • TechArb Graduation • Formalization of Program • Post TechArb
  • 20. TechArb Onboarding • 6 month intensive session for 12 companies • Each company will go through an orientation around: – How to engage with each other and the community (IP) – Legal orientation (how to form an LLC) – Finance – (introduction to quick books)  – 12 workshops on topics from business development to  how to network to marketing – Every other week the companies will participate in  feedback sessions to learn about the growth of their  companies
  • 21. Where do they go from here? All TechArb graduates will have the opportunity to move to a local  entrepreneurial space with support services • TechBrewery – High Tech shared work space ($50/mo for desk) • Workantile – Shared work space ($100/mo for desk) • SPARK Incubator ($95 for virtual workspace)  • All graduates will receive the business development services through  SPARK – Access to Expert Resource Board – Invitation to monthly tenant lunches around key topics. – Free admittance to Entrepreneur Education 1.0 and 2.0 dinner series – Free drop‐in usage of SPARK East during business hours.
  • 22. Summer 2010 TechArb Companies • CWIC Technologies 4 Number of Companies 3 • Fibril Scan 3 2 2 2 2 2 • Food Waste Energy 1 1 • GivingGrows 0 • Heart Graffiti • Joe • June Energy  • Resonant Capital, LLC • Sentient Wings  • SiCAR Company Category • Team Seton • Theoryville
  • 23. Where are they now? TROUBADOUR MOBILE, Inc. duazie Code
  • 24. DoGood 2:42
  • 25. Thank You