Celebrating 20 Years of Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan

Shannon Beeman
October 9, 2019

The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies was established at the University of Michigan Business School with an endowment of $10 million from Samuel Zell and Ann Lurie, on behalf of her late husband Robert H. Lurie, in 1999. 

Twenty years later, the Zell Lurie Institute (ZLI) continues to thrive at the University of Michigan, recognized as one of the best-resourced, top-ranked University-based entrepreneurship and venture investing programs in the world. In recent years, Sam Zell increased his commitment to entrepreneurship at U-M with an additional $60 million dollar gift. 

Twenty U-M entrepreneurs were honored along with five venture capital alumni.

To honor this 20-year milestone, we are featuring 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and companies that made their mark at U-M and beyond:

Annalisa Barrett, MBA ’00

Barrett is the founder of Board Governance Research, LLC, which provides independent research on corporate governance practices, board composition, and director demographics. Now, she serves as senior advisor at KMPG’s Board Leadership Center. At ZLI, Barrett received the Weiser Social-Based Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, and was a student when the Zell Lurie Institute was established in the fall of 1999.

Xoran Technologies

Xoran Technologies LLC is the pioneer of low-dose radiation, cone-beam CT scanners for use in-office and operating rooms. What began as just an idea for an innovative medical imaging device, was brought to life with the help of the Zell Lurie Institute in 2001. Xoran Technologies received the Pryor-Hale and Best Presentation Awards at the 2002 Michigan Business Challenge, as well as a Dare to Dream grant.

Heather Grisham, MBA ’04

Grisham has more than 20 years experience building early-stage companies, specializing in finance, operations, and federal contract management. She is currently the COO & CFO at Pixel Velocity Inc., a company that seeks to use smart video technology to revolutionize the accuracy and efficiency of processing video data. At ZLI, she received a Dare to Dream award, and won the 2002 Michigan Business Challenge.

Rishi Narayan, MSE ’05

Narayan is the founder and managing owner of Ann Arbor-based custom apparel company Underground Printing, with several other locations spread throughout Midwest college towns. He is also a principal in the startup angel fund Chibor Angels, specializing in seed and early stage investments. Narayan participated in the Michigan Business Challenge.

Satish Malnaik, MBA ’04

Malnaik serves as the CEO at NextServices Inc., a solutions provider for health care providers that improves administrative efficiencies and ensures compliance with regulatory mandates. At ZLI, Malnaik was the recipient of 2004 Dare to Dream grant. He also currently serves as a Desai Accelerator Mentor & Advisor.

Todd Sullivan, MBA ’05

As the current Chief Innovation Officer at Service.com, Todd is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and advisor with over 15 years of experience growing revenue through product development, brand licensing, business development and strategic partnerships in consumer-facing, e-commerce, sports-tech, marketplace and mobile-first businesses. Sullivan was the 2004 Dare to Dream recipient for Spirit Shop, a retailer and distributor of personalized, branded high school merchandise. He was also named the MBA Entrepreneur of the Year for 2004-2005 term.

Josh Botkin, MBA ’06

Botkin currently serves as a Faculty Member & Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Ross, mentoring students and teaching classes and workshops on Entrepreneurship & Innovation. As an MBA student, Botkin served as Vice President of the Ross Entrepreneurship and Venture Club, and in 2006, he was named the MBA Entrepreneur of the Year.

Shaily Baranwal, MBA ’07

Baranwal is the Founder & CEO at Elevate K-12, a live streaming platform designed to introduce high-quality digital instruction into a school’s classroom. While at Ross, she was awarded the Dean’s Entrepreneurial Scholarship and won the Michigan Business Challenge. Baranwal currently serves on the advisory board for the Zell Lurie Institute.

Heath Silverman, MBA ’08

Silverman is the Co-founder and CEO at Stessa, a tool used by millions of real estate investors to help track, manage, and communicate the performance of real estate assets. As a Ross MBA student, he was named MBA Entrepreneur of the Year, and served as the chair of Entrepalooza and Co-president of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Club.

Scott Hanson, PhD ’08

After receiving his BSE, MSE, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Hanson founded and became the CTO at Ambiq Micro, which provides the world’s most energy-efficient chips for applications that require months, years, or decades of battery life. While at Michigan, his team took home the top prize at the 2010 Michigan Business Challenge.

Jeff LeBrun, MBA/MS ’09

LeBrun currently serves as the CEO of optimize.health, a next-generation Remote Patient Monitoring platform that enables health care providers to provide better care and generate new streams of revenue with easy-to-use software. As a Ross student, LeBrun took home the first place award for $20,000 in the 2009 Better Living Business Plan Challenge.

Angelique Johnson, PhD ’11

As a PhD student at Michigan, Johnson pitched her own company, MEMStim, at the Michigan Business Challenge in 2011. Johnson’s company, which produces implantable electronics to treat neurological disorders, ended up taking home the top prize of $27,000. Today she continues to serve as the CEO of MEMStim, and is an assistant professor gratis in the College of Engineering at the University of Louisville.

PK Mishra, MBA ’12

Mishra is the Co-founder and CEO at Fingertip Labs, whose primary mission is using machine learning for remote, design-obsessed interaction with technology. At Ross, Mishra received a Dare to Dream Award for @Fingertips, developing smart phone accessories to allow visually impaired users access to modern technologies. He was also named MBA Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012.

Grant Hughes, MBA ’12/MS ’13 & Cavan Canavan, MBA ’12

Hughes and Canavan co-founded FocusMotion, which creates data-driven orthopedic recovery solutions to automatically assess and monitor pre- and post-operative patients, building the deep learning and diagnostic AI that will transform human recovery. The duo received Dare to Dream grants in both 2012 and 2013, and Hughes was named MBA Entrepreneur of the Year.

Muhammad (Mo) Faisal, PhD ’14

Faisal is the CEO and Founder of Movellus, which develops process portable, high performance & ultra-low power analog IPs. After winning the Michigan Business Challenge in 2014 with Movellus, he went on to become the 2014 ZLI Entrepreneur of the Year.

Shelly Sahi, MBA ’16

Sahi is the Founder and CEO of Sahi Cosmetics, the only luxury cosmetics brand that addresses undertones first by creating shades that match a wide range of skin tones. As a Ross MBA, Sahi was named the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year, after winning the Michigan Business Challenge, and receiving Dare to Dream grants.

Walker McHugh, MSE 17

McHugh is the Co-founder at PreDxion Bio Inc., a precision medicine diagnostics company seeking to revolutionize critical care and emergency medicine. While at U-M, he was awarded the Pryor-Hale Award at the Michigan Business Challenge, the team went on to win a $200,000 investment at the Rice Business Plan Competition. McHugh was also selected to be a Zell Entrepreneur, and Dare to Dream grant recipient.

Ramses Alcaide, PhD ’17

Alcaide currently serves as the CEO of Neurable, which builds full-stack neurotechnology tools that interpret human intent, measure emotion, and provide telekinetic control of the digital world. While at Michigan, he received the Valenti Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, along with grants from the Michigan Business Challenge and Dare to Dream.

Ann Duong, MHI ’18

Duong is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Canopy Co., builds digital tools that help people talk about, make and share their end-of-life healthcare decisions. Its goal is to ensure people from all walks of life can better navigate their journey through healthcare, with respect and dignity. Her team was awarded second place in the Siegle Impact Track at the 2017-2018 Michigan Business Challenge, and received the grand prize of $11,000 at the TechArb Venture Accelerator.

Flo Noel, MBA/MSI ’19

Noel is the Founder of Dear Black Women, a network and affirmation movement designed to empower and foster online and offline communities for black women. Dear Black Women took home the first prize in the Siegle Impact Track at the 2019 Michigan Business Challenge. In addition, Noel has participated in the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, Dare to Dream, Zell Entrepreneurs, and TechArb.

Hundreds of mentors, professors, supporters, investors, and alumni attended the celebration.

Looking to the next twenty years, the Zell Lurie Institute will continue our mission to charge the economy and enhance entrepreneurial leadership throughout the world. We look forward to the continued growth of our programs as well as the entrepreneurs supported by ZLI.