The Michigan Business Challenge has narrowed down to eight from the original 45 student teams. After round one, fourteen teams were selected to compete in round two where each team was given seven minutes to describe their company’s solution to a pressing market need or pain, an estimation of the market size, and support for the team’s financial assumptions. The teams then had 10 minutes for questions from the judges.
This competition simulates the multi-phase business development and planning process required to commercialize a great idea, while also providing mentoring at every step in the process. In the past decade alone, over 500 teams have participated in the Michigan Business Challenge where they have received nearly $375,000 in prize money. Many earn enough seed funding in this and subsequent business plan competitions to fuel a successful launch and at times, attract sizable Series A investments.
Semi-finalists were named on Friday, Jan. 20 they are:
- @Fingertips – Building a device that enables the blind to use modern touch-screens on smartphones and other devices
- ASK Interfaces – Designing a user interface for mobile devices for individuals with fine motor control disabilities
- AutoBike – Designing a user-friendly automatic shifting system for recreational bicyclists
- Converge Medical Technologies – Creating a neuro-monitoring device would allow improved evaluation of patient sedation and awareness in surgery and in the critical care unit
- Fashion Forward Maternity – An online boutique for women to rent high quality and designer maternity fashions
- Stride Sports – Designing and manufacturing fitness and exercise equipment
- Surf-face – Mobile dating application that leverages Facebook to facilitate meaningful connections
- thru.im – Mobile website that lets customers transact with any business via free text messaging
The semi-finals and finals will take place on Friday, Feb. 17, during which the eight semi-finalist teams will present their entire business plans to judges. Following the semi-finals that day, four finalists will be selected to discuss their businesses with a panel of professional investors during a 30 minute interactive session. The winning teams for the Challenge and the Winter 2012 recipients of Dare to Dream grants will be announced during an evening reception at the Ross School of Business. For more information, see www.zli.bus.umich.edu.