From 100 student teams across the University’s 19 schools and colleges one grand-prize winner emerged on Friday, March 15, at the Ross School of Business. Throughout the course of the five-month, multi-round Michigan Business Challenge business plan competition, student-led startup Calcium Solutions gained momentum and took home nearly $30,000 in cash prizes from the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies‘ 36th annual competition award ceremony.
“The Michigan Business Challenge has allowed our team to remain hyper-focused on the business aspect of our venture,” said Robert Chisena (PhD ‘19). “We have been fortunate enough to meet with experts at the Zell Lurie Institute who have helped and guided us along the way. Our team is more knowledgeable, confident, and prepared to take the next step because of MBC.”
Founded by Chisena and Matthew Hildner (PhD ‘20), Calcium Solutions is launching an innovative medical device, Plaque-Buster. Plaque-Buster is a safe, easy-to-use, patent-pending device developed to improve the treatment of calcified, atherosclerotic plaques in cardiovascular peripheral arteries. The Calcium Solutions team is working diligently to bring the device to market to increase the effectiveness of the treatment of calcified plaque. As the population continues to age, Plaque-Buster will have a growing impact in the cardiovascular device space.
“Our team plans to continue the hard work that will be required to get this device into the hands of clinicians,” said Matthew Hildner (PhD ‘20). “The journey will be long, but we are confident that with the hard work and determination of our talented team, Plaque-Buster will be improving the treatment and lives of patients in the near future.”
In addition to the $25,000 grand prize, Calcium Solutions took home the new Michigan Investment Challenge (MIC) Investment for $2,000 and one of two Best Presentation Awards.
Michigan Business Challenge teams took their ventures, both for-profit and socially driven, through a rigorous five-part competition, shifting and reworking initial concepts to create a viable business plan. To guide student teams through this process, the competition process is supported by one-on-one coaching from Zell Lurie Institute entrepreneurs-in-residence, individualized training through ZLI startup workshops, and feedback from judges in venture capital and entrepreneurship.
Michigan Business Challenge
The Michigan Business Challenge is a multi-round competition for students from across the University’s campus. The competition focuses on student teams testing real-world business concepts through engaging in customer discovery, vetting financial models, conducting market research, and developing a complete business plan. Throughout the course of the competition, over $100,000 was awarded to student teams.
Teams whose new ventures pursue a mission-driven goal were selected in the first round of MBC to compete in the Seigle Impact Track – with prizes totaling more than $26,000 – sponsored by the Mark and Robin Seigle Entrepreneurial Innovation Fund. Florence Noel (MBA/MSI ‘19), founder of Dear Black Women, took home the Seigle Impact Track Grand Prize of $15,000. Dear Black Women is a socially-driven venture specializing in creating communities and increasing the social capital of Black women.
In addition to Calcium Solutions and Dear Black Women, the 2019 Michigan Business Challenge winning teams include:
Holly Keith Lingerie, a luxury lingerie brand focused on providing high quality lingerie to larger busted women and innovating how women are sized for bras. Founded by Holly Meyers (MBA ‘19), the student-led startup received the Pryor-Hale Runner-up award for Best Business for $10,000, and one of two Marketing Awards, sponsored by Marketing Associates, for $2,500.
Practical Prosthetics, founded by Harrison Price (BSE ‘21), Joseph Schuman (BS ‘21), Ethan Russo (BBA ‘21), and Anthony Salmeron (BSE ‘21), integrates 3D printing in the prosthetic manufacturing process, developing functional prosthetics operated by an independent and intuitive control system. This innovative startup took home Seigle Impact Track Runner-up for $7,500, the Sillman Award for Best Undergraduate Team for $5,000, and the Williamson Award for Outstanding Cross-Functional Team for $5,000.
Eastern Bazaar, a line of chic and affordable holiday decorations and stationary for the Muslim-American community, was awarded the second of two Marketing Awards, sponsored by Marketing Associates, for $2,500.
NeoHealth, a company dedicated to eliminating counterfeit drugs in developing countries, founded by Sujai Arakali (BS ‘20), Derrell Chapman (BS ‘19) received the Small Giants Positive Organizing Award for $2,500 and Best Showcase Award.
Acqua e Rosa, a Detroit-based luxury floral design brand specializing in timeless and elegant floral arrangements using signature acrylic boxes, founded by Mariam Jalloul (MBA/MPH ‘19), took home the second of two Best Presentation Awards.
“Many students come here eager to bring their own business ideas to fruition, leveraging programs such as the Michigan Business Challenge to fine-tune plans, develop go-to-market strategies, and establish important relationships,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “These opportunities allow students to validate their ideas in front of a wider community of entrepreneurs and investors. We’re proud of the outstanding entrepreneurial drive shown by these student teams, and are confident that the resources they’ve received from the Zell Lurie Institute will help them achieve even greater success.”
The Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance bring together a potent mix of knowledge, experience, and opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investments. The student learning experience is further enhanced through internships, programs, and events that serve to provide viable networks and engage the business community. The School’s five student-led investment funds, with over $10M under management, immerse students in the business assessment and investment process. For more information, visit the Institute at www.zli.umich.edu.