AIM Tech: Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Stephen John
Aaron Steiner (@aaronsteiner)

How did you decide your team name?

AIM Tech is the short form of “Advanced Innovative Medical Technologies”.

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

Stephen grew up in Nepal, and witnessed firsthand the need for an affordable, low tech, low power ventilator to help premature infants. NeoVent is a breakthrough product because it is so simple, inexpensive, and effective. We want to use it worldwide to help save millions of infant lives.

How has the MBC experience helped transform your approach to business strategy?

MBC brought our business strategy team together and focused our activities. At each step of the program, we benefited from workshops, office hours and feedback. We were constantly forced to examine our assumptions to build a stronger case. Now, as a result of this process, we have a business plan!

What do you think will be the long-term impact of the implementation of this idea?

If we can realize our vision of bringing effective respiratory therapy to millions of individuals, especially those in emerging markets, we will help save thousands — if not millions — of lives. We believe our technology has the power to transform how respiratory care is delivered effectively to the masses.

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

We previously worked rigorously on the product; MBC gave us a chance to work rigorously on the business plan… which turns out to be critical if we are to scale and make an impact. We have learned a lot as we synthesized our research into a rigorous and actionable plan.

If you win, what will you do immediately following the competition?

We are preparing to launch a pilot of our device in Nepal later this spring, followed by a larger clinical study in Malawi this fall. Any funding we raise will be dedicated to preparing for those critical studies, including device production.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

The chance to compete in both the Impact Track and the regular MBC track highlighted for us the opportunities and the challenges facing any business trying to make an impact. There’s great opportunity in venture financing to accelerate our growth and impact, but we struggle to balance our social mission with financial sustainability. This experience has been the best way for us to come to grasp those tensions in practical terms.


Join us on Feb. 17 to watch this team compete for the $15K grand prize in the Impact Track Finals!

Read more about the other finalist teams: Find Your Ditto | Kladder | Sage & Grace

Find Your Ditto: Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Parisa Soraya, @parisasoraya
Brianna Wolin, @breezygfreezy
Team: @findyourditto

How did you decide your team name?

We actually named our business with a thesaurus! We wanted to find a word to describe the feeling of “me too” and “I get it”, which led us to “ditto”.

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

Find Your Ditto connects individuals living with the same chronic illness locally for on-demand, in-person peer support. It started when I met my now-co-founder, Brianna, who really highlighted what it meant to live with an “invisible” illness. We went on to find that hundreds of other patients and caregivers across the nation also felt these pervasive feelings of isolation and loneliness associated with their chronic illness.

We are securing contracts with universities this year to pilot with their students. We hope to eventually grow to be a resource for all chronic illness patients across the nation so that they are able to find peer support wherever and whenever they need it and begin to feel like “it’s not just me.”

How has the MBC experience helped transform your approach to business strategy?

MBC has really pushed us to consider how to sustainably grow and scale our business. What’s unique about MBC is that it’s not just a one time pitch competition — it is separated into rounds with deliverables and workshops along the way. This really helped us build out different parts under the guidance of experienced mentors.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of the implementation of this idea?

Find Your Ditto helps establish a peer support foundation among individuals living with chronic illness and increase the awareness and usage of community health resources. Through this, we can improve psychosocial functioning among patients and ultimately improve health outcomes.

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

We’ve really been able to refine our business model. While I don’t have an academic background in business, I’ve gained so much structured support from MBC through mentors at the Zell Lurie Institute and Center for Social Impact, as well as the ZLI workshops. This has all helped me become more comfortable approaching our product through a business-focused lens.

If you win, what will you do immediately following the competition?

Sleep! And then get back up and work. Although it’s difficult to launch a business, it’s also really exciting and rewarding, and every minute you can spend growing the venture is invaluable.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I am so grateful for the continued support of MBC and especially for specifically supporting social enterprises through the Social Impact Track. We know we will stay connected with the mentors we have engaged with throughout our time in MBC and plan to utilize the skills and resources we have gained as we grow our venture.


Join us on Feb. 17 to watch this team compete for the $15K grand prize in the Impact Track Finals!

Read more about the other finalist teams: AIM Tech | Kladder | Sage & Grace

Sage & Grace: Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Holly Price (MBA ’17) @sageandgrace

How did you decide your team name?

With an industry like the funeral industry, I felt it was important to have a name that did not directly trigger the negative feelings of death and dying. I have found that many of the people who plan funerals are strong women in the family and so I was comfortable with a name that sounded a little bit feminine. Sage is an herb that has traditionally represented healing and purification. Grace is for the Christian ideal of redemption being extended to all.

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

The idea of Sage & Grace was born from my own personal research about the death and dying process. When I have lost people close to me, I grieved hard. I set out to tackle my fear of death like I tackle other challenges in my life: by reading. The more I read about the funeral industry, the more I questioned the standard, predatory practices. I also read about niche businesses that address pain points, but are not reaching a broad audience, especially those that reduce the negative environmental impact of traditional funerals.

Sage & Grace is a website and concierge service that seeks to educate consumers who need to quickly understand their options for funeral planning. Hopefully, in the process, we can save them time, money, and help them focus on grieving more effectively.

How has the MBC experience helped transform your approach to business strategy?

My approach to business strategy is bolder and more tactical because of MBC. The entrepreneurs-in-residence at ZLI and the judges from MBC have pushed me to consider a bolder vision and not sell myself short. This has been easily one of the best learning experiences of my MBA program.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of the implementation of this idea?

Western culture needs to do a much better job preparing for the inevitability of death. Avoiding it until it is staring us in the face leads to all sorts of other problems. I believe Sage & Grace has the ability to help expand an emerging movement of “Death Positivity” and help people across the country honor their loved ones in a way that more effectively uses limited resources.

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My least favorite part of the competition is pitching in Round 1 when you have three minutes to tell you story and no slides to back you up. But, I learned so much from the teams who did really well during Round 1 in terms of how they pitched and how much preparation they put into pitching. It changed how I think about telling my story. My favorite part of MBC is getting questions from the judges–their questions and reactions are quite valuable, even though they usually start with a long pause and say, “Well….I don’t know much about the funeral industry, but have you thought about…”

If you win, what will you do immediately following the competition?

Hire a developer! I need outside help, especially for front end development, and any prize money will go directly to hiring someone to moving closer to launch!

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

The biggest part of the mission of Sage & Grace is to help people who need to plan a funeral and who are most likely grieving heavily understand their options and the process. The best way to avoid getting taken advantage of is to do your homework ahead of time. There is never an easy time to sit down and talk to a loved one about death but it is invaluable to do so before it is too late. I am a huge proponent of organ donations and green funerals, happy to chat with anyone who wants to learn more.


Join us on Feb. 17 to watch this team compete for the $15K grand prize in the Impact Track Finals!

Read more about the other finalist teams: AIM Tech | Find Your Ditto | Kladder

U-M startup pilots $10 grocery rides to Detroiters

Jan. 23, 2017 – ANN ARBOR – Cart, a University of Michigan startup that connects people to healthy, fresh groceries, will offer $10 round trip rides via Lyft through March 22 at Detroit Meijer stores. Meijer is donating the other $10 it costs per ride, said Cart CEO Stacey Matlen, who graduated from U-M with a master’s degree in public health last year and was sponsored by Business+Impact in the 2016 Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track and it’s Summer Fund.

READ THE COMPLETE MICHIGAN NEWS ARTICLE

Four Impact Track Teams Advance to the Finals of the Michigan Business Challenge

January 23, 2017 – Ann Arbor – Business+Impact wants to thank all the teams and judges involved in Round Two of this year’s Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track! The competition has been very successful thus far, and the ten teams from Round Two of the Impact Track had impressive presentations. The Impact Track had a panel of three judges – Anika Goss-Foster of Detroit Future City, Cat Johnson of The Empowerment Plan, and Aaron Seybert of the Kresge Foundation.  In addition to the 4 Impact Track teams moving on, 8 other teams will compete in the main track.

Kladder presents its social platform for diverse professionals during Round Two of the Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track.

The Impact Track finals will take place on February 17, 2017 from 12:30 – 3 pm at the Ross School of Business.  The following teams will participate there (Click on each name to find a summary of key information on them):

AIM Tech – Stephen John (MD ’19)
AIM Tech has a desire to improve health care options for underserved groups on a global scale through the development of safe, user-friendly, low power, and affordable equipment.

Find Your Ditto – Parisa Soraya (MHI’17)
Find Your Ditto is a mobile application that connects individuals living with chronic illness locally to on-demand, in-person support.

Parisa Soraya of Find Your Ditto presents her idea for generating peer support for those suffering with chronic illness.

Kladder LLC – Jaymon Ballew (JD/MBA ’18)
Kladder is an online and mobile application that connects diverse professionals and offers unique industry insights based upon the experiences of these individuals.

Sage & Grace – Holly Price (MBA ’17)
Sage & Grace is a website and concierge service that educates and empowers grieving families to better, and more affordably, navigate the complications and stress of the American funeral planning process.

The Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where the winning team has the opportunity to win  $26,000, gain feedback from judges and expand their business network.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. The at-large Michigan Business Challenge is sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, and the Impact Track is co-sponsored by Zell Lurie, Business+Impact, and the Erb Institute.

Center for Social Impact and UM-Flint to Collaborate on Flint Challenge

2017 Social Impact Challenge to Address Economic Development in Flint

ANN ARBOR, MI – JAN. 4, 2017 — The sixth annual Social Impact Challenge will take place in Flint, MI and is presented as a partnership between the Ross School of Business’ Center for Social Impact in Ann Arbor and UM-Flint’s Office of University Outreach. As Flint looks toward a post-water-crisis future, the 2017 Social Impact Challenge will look at how to advance entrepreneurship efforts in Flint to revive neighborhood centers and city corridors for economic development.

Business+Impact has hosted previous challenges in Detroit, partnering with civic, community and nonprofit organizations to tackle pressing strategic issues in the urban environment. In 2016, students tackled strategic and operational questions to help launch Detroit PAL‘s Kids At the Corner Campaign in partnership with the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which involved the redevelopment of the historic field.

In 2017, in addition to the partnership between the two University of Michigan campuses, teams will be working with community partners the City of Flint, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce and Skypoint Ventures—a venture capital and real estate company with strong social impact ties.

“It exciting to move the challenge to Flint this year, where so much is going on, but where there is also so much potential,” says Glenn Bugala, Marketing Manager for Business+Impact.

Paula Nas, Interim Director of University Outreach at UM-Flint says, “The opportunity to partner with the Ann Arbor campus on meaningful social change in our city is very exciting. We look forward to having ongoing dialogue between the campuses on Flint’s future.”

Student teams will be presented with a case statement and will work together to find solutions that will be implemented on the ground in Flint through the partner organizations. In addition to being able to create interdisciplinary teams, this year students will be able to create teams from students at both campuses.  The winning team will receive $2,500 and the opportunity to put their plan into practice during the coming months.

There are a number of events between January and March. Students will meet with UM-Flint Outreach in Flint on January 18th and in Ann Arbor on January 24th to kick-off this exciting event. On Friday, January 27, all participants will have a site visit in Flint with key stakeholders and U-M. Students must register their teams for the Challenge by Tuesday, February 7th. On Wednesday, March 15th in Flint, the final pitches and the winning team will be presented. There will also be special speakers and events surrounding the Challenge on that day.

For further information on this event, check with Business+Impact online at http://socialimpact.umich.edu or with UM-Flint Outreach at http://www.umflint.edu/outreach.  Ongoing updates throughout the challenge will be available on Twitter with the hashtag #MSIC17.

About Business+Impact: Business+Impact provides students support and opportunities to design a pathway to become social impact leaders. Students in the Center’s programs collaborate with mission-driven organizations across sectors to develop innovative solutions to pressing social challenges.

About UM-Flint’s Office of University Outreach: University Outreach connects campus and community to support learning, collaboration and partnerships. The office is guided by justice and fairness, healthy relationships, community building, economic vitality, and service.