Sherman Powell


In mid-summer 2008, U.S. Army veteran Sherman Powell, MBA ’08, sent Zell Lurie Institute co-benefactor Sam Zell an e-mail message stating he was ready to move forward. At Zell’s invitation, Powell laid out the business plan for Army Property, an equipment accountability and procurement system, and made a formal investor presentation to Zell’s Equity Group Investors. “Mr. Zell said, ‘Let’s do it,’ so we worked out the term sheet and signed an investment contract,” Powell recalls. “In January 2009, we opened for business as a venture-capital-funded start-up.” Since then, Army Property has scaled up its online business operations and staffing. Today, the company helps 45,000 registered users in the U.S. Army account for $2.2 billion of military property, and is on track to generate $2 million in sales of new equipment, software and other services this year. Powell says the Zell Lurie Institute and the Ross School of Business catapulted him to entrepreneurial success. “New Venture Creation, a business-plan course taught by Adjunct Lecturer Jim Price, gave me the time, structure, deadlines and tools to write a business plan and investor presentation for my company, which I launched during the class,” he explains. “A $10,000 Dare to Dream grant allowed me to continue refining the plan and win the 2008 Michigan Business Challenge, where I pitched to real investors in a high-pressure, time-constrained environment.” In spring 2008, Powell met Zell at the Institute’s Advisory Board meeting and made his well-rehearsed investor presentation. Zell gave Powell his business card and an invitation to call. “The Institute offers fantastic opportunities and enables you to build out your ideas and take them to completion,” Powell says. “If you make it through the hurdles, you are introduced to high-powered people who will help you take your dreams to amazing heights.”