Q&A – Jerry Davis on how Free Accounting Fridays and other programs help Detroit business owners and nonprofits thrive

Jerry Davis is the associate dean at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and leads the Business + Impact initiative. Davis’ research at the University of Michigan is broadly concerned with corporate governance and the effects of finance on society. Through his years as a researcher, he recognized the implications that globalization and technology had for the U.S. economy as millions of Americans jobs were being displaced. He realized that the private sector needed to have a more positive impact on society. With this realization, Davis began concentrating on how business could be used to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Read more in U-M’s Detroit feature »

Michigan Business Challenge Seigle Impact Track Winner Announced

Ann Arbor, March 18, 2018 – The winner of the 2019 Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track is Dear Black Women (Florence Noel,MBA/MSI 2019), an affirmation movement and social network for Black women to heal, connect and grow. The Seigle Impact Track competition, co-sponsored by the Zell Lurie InstituteBusiness+Impact, and the Erb Institute, began in November with over 50 teams. Eight semi-finalists competed on February 8 for the four finalist spots in the Seigle finals competition.

Other finalists included:

NeoHealth is a company dedicated to eliminating counterfeit drugs in developing countries. It is estimated that over 1,000,000 people die each year solely due to counterfeit drugs. We have developed a low-cost device that attaches to a phone and utilizes the camera to detect whether an antimalarial is counterfeit or authentic.  — Sujai Arakali (BS 2020), Derrell Chapman (BS 2019)

Practical Prosthetics integrates 3D printing in the prosthetic manufacturing process, developing functional prosthetics operated by an independent and intuitive control system. The technology necessary to make affordable and accessible prosthetics exists—Practical Prosthetics is simply putting it to use and challenging the stigma that prosthetics need to be complicated and expensive. — Harrison Price (BSE 2021), Joseph Schuman (BS 2021), Ethan Russo (BBA 2021), Anthony Salmeron (BSE 2021)

SubQ Assist is a task-shifting device that facilitates the consistent and accurate administration of subcutaneous contraceptive implants thereby minimizing the likelihood of complications during removal and allowing minimally trained healthcare workers to provide safe access in rural areas. — Vinayak Gokhale (MBA 2019)

Dear Black Women received $15,000 for first place in the Seigle Impact Track and $100 for third place in Elevator Pitch competition.

Practical Prosthetics was the Seigle Impact Track Runner-up ($7,500), won the Best Undergraduate Team Award ($5,000) and the Williamson Cross-function Team Award ($5,000). Seigle finalist NeoHealth won a Positive Organizing Award ($2,500) and a Best Showcase Award ($250).  

The expert judging panel for the Seigle Impact Track finals was comprised of:

  • Carolyn Cassin – Belle Impact Fund
  • Loch McCabe – Shepherd Advisors
  • Marissa Guananja – W.K. Kellogg Foundation  

The Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition, of which the Seigle Impact Track is a subset focused on entrepreneurial student ventures focused on social  and/or environmental impact.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. 

View photos from the finals »

SubQ Assist: Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Vinayak Gokhale (MBA ’19, MD)
Ibrahim Mohedas (ME)

How did you decide your team name?

The name is same as that of the product/invention. It is derived from a functional description of the device as a “subcutaneous contraceptive implantation assistive device”

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

The product was created using ethnographic design technique. This involves researchers observing and/or interacting with a study’s participants in their real-life environment. Thus, a problem related to contraception in low resource settings was identified and a solution devised. It provides an extremely cost-effective way to provide access to affordable, long term contraception to women living in areas with lack or severe scarcity of trained medical personnel.

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

The MBC experience has forced us to identify and commit to a single best commercialization strategy and has helped us focus our efforts on finding ways of making it happen.

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

SubQ Assist has the potential to revolutionize contraception delivery in low resource settings and to boost the adoption of subcutaneous implants as drug delivery devices for a range of indications in developed as well as developing markets.

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

No matter how much you have accomplished with a venture, working with a structured format toward clear objectives as well as obtaining independent feedback and fresh perspective, is always invaluable.

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

Update my resume, buy some really expensive market research reports, and celebrate!

NeoHealth: Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Sujai Arakali (BS, Cell Biology ’20)
Derrell Chapman (BS, Philosophy, ’19)

How did you decide your team name?

We wanted a name that showed that we were a modern medical innovation company, so we brainstormed a bunch of names until we both agreed on NeoHealth.

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

NeoHealth focuses on eliminating the global problem of counterfeit drugs through a low-cost device that attaches to the back of a phone and utilizes the camera to detect counterfeit drugs. We hope that it makes a significant reduction in the number of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and ends up saving lives.

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

Prior to MBC, both of us were primarily focused on the technical development of the product and lacked knowledge of how to pitch our project or develop a projection for our financials. The mentorship and workshops helped teach us skills essential for the development of a successful company.

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

An estimated 1,000,000 deaths occur each year due to counterfeit pharmaceuticals. We hope that our product will be able significantly reduce the number of lives impacted by counterfeit pharmaceuticals in developing country

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Starting a business can be one of the most exciting yet difficult tasks. Thankfully the University of Michigan has countless resources to help make this experience as easy as possible.

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

Get back to work. An entrepreneur never has time to relax.

Dear Black Women: Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Florence Noel (MBA/MSI ’19)

How did you decide your team name?

Dear Black Women is grounded in Black women’s affirmations to themselves. ‘Dear Black Women’ was the perfect way to symbolize our love and care for ourselves.

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

Dear Black Women is an affirmation movement and network for Black women to heal, connect and grow. We specialize in curating offline and online spaces that create community and increase the social capital of Black women in the movement. The Dear Black Women dream is to be present in every major city in the United States where Black woman want us and to change the lives of the Black women in this movement.

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

MBC has helped me in so many ways. One of my favorite ways is in helping me refine Dear Black Women’s value proposition and strategies for attracting and delivering value to Black women in our movement.

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

Simply put: Black women will save their own lives. In community.

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Keep. Going. It’s scary and overwhelming and without guarantee, but all your hard work and vision is worth the leap. Keep. Going.

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

Alert the thousands of Black women in the movement and tell them to tell everyone they love! Then,  party with Dear Black Women in the area. Then, cry. Then, sleep. Then, begin reinvesting in the business. Order may vary.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I dedicate this to every Black woman before me whose life made mine possible. And every Black woman alongside me and after me whose life reflects the best in us. All of their journeys offer me examples of love, strength, courage and wisdom. I follow them. I thank them. I am them.

Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track Round One Winners

Ann Arbor, December 3, 2018 – The Michigan Business Challenge (MBC), a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition has announced the eight teams advancing in its Seigle Impact Track.

Ninety-five student teams submitted proposals for MBC, with 51 teams submitting for the Seigle Impact Track. After passing a qualifying round, teams advanced to Round One, which was held at the Ross School of Business on Friday, November 30, 2018. In the Seigle Impact Track, eight teams will now advance to Round Two, taking place on Friday, February 8, 2019. From there, four teams will advance to the Finals on Friday, March 15, 2018.

Eight impact teams will advance from Round One to Round Two:

  • BLIP – aiming to reduce the amount of time and effort women in rural Gujarat, India, spend to collect potable water, alleviating pain and reducing “time poverty.”
  • Dear Black Women – an affirmation movement and social network, online and offline, that grows the social capital of black women.
  • Dough – personalizing student loan management from matriculation through repayment to reduce debt burdens and default rates.
  • NeoHealth – a low-cost device that can be used to detect counterfeit antimalarials in developing countries.
  • Peerstachio – a peer-to-peer learning community platform that helps undergraduate college students improve their grades by connecting underclassmen with trusted upperclassmen.
  • Practical Prosthetics – providing affordable, accessible and functional 3D-printed prosthetics.
  • SubQ Assist – a task-shifting device to aid in the safe administration of subcutaneous contraceptive implants for people in rural areas.
  • ValCycle – an end-to-end reverse logistics platform that connects unused product to the people who need it most.

The eight teams feature students from Biology, Education Engineering, Computer Science, Information, LSA, and Michigan Ross. Additionally, 17 teams are advancing in the at-large competition, including Dough and SubQAssist.

The Michigan Business Challenge (MBC) is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where student businesses have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling over $100,000, gain feedback from leaders in the business community, and expand their business network. Ross’ Seigle Impact Track is sponsored by the Mark and Robin Seigle Entrepreneurial Innovation Fund and co-managed by Business+Impact at Michigan Ross, the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, and the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. This track awards a $26,000 prize pool to the most compelling business plans that deliver social or environmental impact, and the top social impact team can win $15,000 at the finals on March 15.

Read about all of the Round One winners ZLI’s post “2019 Michigan Business Challenge Teams Advancing to Round 2”

Impact Hackathon Brings Together Global Leaders to Transform the Impact Economy

On July 12-13, Jerry Davis, Associate Dean for Business+Impact at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, worked with partners at Global Silicon Valley and the Stamps School of Art & Design to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, academics, corporate executives, policymakers, and others to discuss transformational ideas in impact. Using an architecture model known as a charrette, John Marshall of U-M’s Stamps School led subgroups in drafting solutions to the central question: “How can the impact economy create value beyond shareholder returns?” Subgroups then convened in a large group to hash out areas of common ground and disagreement.

Using a “hackathon” model over the course of a day, collaborative discussions addressed four focal questions:

  • How might we meet the social and sustainability challenges that are not being met by the current system?
  • How might we redirect efforts of initiatives that are falling short in the current economy and retool them for the impact economy?
  • How might we take advantage of new opportunities in the impact economy?
  • How might we accelerate existing initiatives in the impact economy?

Teams considered pathways for innovation within organization design, financing, impact business models, and through new dimensions. Participants were challenged to move beyond conventional approaches to solving problems or addressing needs.

The event was the beginning of a new Impact Task Force, founded by Michigan Ross and Global Silicon Valley (GSV). The ultimate goal of the group is to illuminate a path forward that enables new forms of enterprise and new models of funding to accelerate the pace of impact in the world. This and other annual events are designed to develop an ecosystem that will be at the forefront of sea change in the global economic system.

This July event was sponsored by Michigan Ross, Global Silicon Valley and Stamps School of Art & Design.

The Value of Accounting to Detroit and Local Entrepreneurs

by Aaron Ngo, Michigan Ross BBA ’20

Most people that know me well know that my parents were entrepreneurs. They owned a small Chinese restaurant near our home in the suburbs of Philly. Not coders hacking away on an app in the garage or MBAs pitching to a VC firm, they were local entrepreneurs — everyday people in the neighborhood who decided to start a smart business to create a living for themselves. Watching them, and countless others like them, drew me to get involved in entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan.

The experience thus far has been rewarding, I don’t regret anything. However I have noticed a large gap between what I used to consider entrepreneurship and the resources for students on campus. From what I’ve seen, most of entrepreneurship at Michigan focuses on the areas I mentioned earlier — tech companies and startups creating complicated software products. That’s not a bad thing (if you’re into that kind of stuff, more power to you), but I always felt like there was a disconnect between people like my parents and most of the entrepreneurs like my parents.

Let’s back up a bit and talk about my interests.

  • I’m a Philly native and a fan of everything related to Philly culture.
  • I’m a numbers guy and have always enjoyed math related courses (even if the grades don’t show it.)
  • I’m passionate about community building and social impact (i.e. a significant positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.)

I’ve been reflecting a lot on these interests, my experiences, and life goals a lot this past year. I know I want to use my business education to make a social impact, but am still figuring the how part out. When the opportunity arose to join the Ross Accounting Outreach team, I thought it fit all of these interests and past experiences perfectly.

The Ross Accounting Outreach initiative is designed to help Detroit small businesses get their financials in order. We meet with small business owners every Friday to discuss their accounting needs. Everything from inventory turnover, developing cost structures of different products, and mapping out growth opportunities is fair game. But why exactly is creating a statement of cash flows or discussing costs of equipment considered social impact?

Well, by helping Detroit entrepreneurs and small businesses, we’re indirectly helping revitalize Detroit. With more small businesses in the community, more jobs are created and the economy is boosted. Retail businesses like restaurants in particular also make use of abandoned buildings and infrastructure. With an economy that has suffered after the Great Recession, this boost from entrepreneurs of all kinds is helping Detroit get back on track.

Local entrepreneurs benefit from our services because:

  • They’re completely free. All they have to do is sign up for an appointment on our website
  • Having properly organized financials helps businesses communicate important information to different stakeholders such as banks, grant writing institutions, and business partners. Many of the entrepreneurs we work with don’t have a formal business background, and so benefit from simply talking about this with us
  • Accounting tips and equations can help entrepreneurs see aspects of the business in new ways. Which products are the most profitable and to which customers are our marketing tactics the most effective? How long will it be until we pay off our loan? Can I afford another employee while I go on vacation?

Personally I as a student have come to appreciate accounting more after these few short weeks. It’s been a way for me to learn more about business and get acquainted with what social impact can look like. I’ve also had the opportunity to work more intimately with numbers. Seeing the entrepreneurs faces when they talk about their business or when they understand a new accounting concept is by far the most rewarding part though. Detroiters have a spirit about them that I’ve only experienced back in Philly. There’s a tough “roll up your sleeves” attitude that’s ingrained in the fabric of both cities.

“There’s a tough roll up your sleeves attitude that’s ingrained in the fabric of both cities.”

The genuine love for hard work and refusal to back down from a challenge that I’ve seen from the entrepreneurs is inspiring, and shown me that Detroit’s revitalization is well on its way. It’s also shown me social impact can take many forms — including behind the numbers of a financial statement.

To get more updates on Ross Accounting Outreach, you can follow the Center of Finance, Law, and Policy on Facebook or read up on the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project

See the original post on Aaron’s blog.

The Bottom-Up Media Revolution: How Social Entrepreneurs are Building Trust Between Communities and the Media

Laxmi Parthasarathy and Michael Gordon
April 12, 2018

Ashoka has partnered with Business+Impact to understand the new media landscape being forged by social entrepreneurs. These individuals work closely with their communities to address problems ranging from malicious actors sowing disinformation or hijacking media for nefarious purposes, to a lack of well-trained local journalists, and local citizenry having limited opportunities for public engagement. Based on a deep analysis of fifty Ashoka Fellows whose primary aim is addressing problems associated with media, the report shows the five overarching goals that unite their work and the various approaches they have adopted to achieve them.

The five overarching goals include:

  1. Improving the infrastructure and environment within which the media operates
  2. Improving standards of reporting to strengthen the quality of journalism
  3. Ensuring the media is a vehicle for civic engagement
  4. Making the media a self-sustaining business
  5. Increasing media literacy by providing the public with diverse and representative content.

This work points the way toward stronger trust between communities and the media.

Download the full report: The Bottom-Up Media Revolution (.pdf)
 Read the article “Rebuilding Trust in the Media from the Bottom Up,” in The Conversation, based on this study

Michael Gordon interviewed Laxmi Parthasarathy about the highlights of this study in the video above (Youtube)

Center for Social Impact brings opportunities for community engagement, social entrepreneurship & more

April 5, 2018 – ANN ARBOR – Nitya Gupta of Michigan News posted an article on the Engaged Michigan newsfeed that discusses corporate social responsibility, social challenges, and the place of Business+Impact in developing leaders that will make a positive change in society. This article includes discussions about our Board Fellows Program, last year’s Change Agents Program, and our Social Impact Challenge experience.