Zell Lurie Institute Announces 2021 Michigan Business Challenge Winners

Shannon Beeman
March 1, 2021

The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business has announced the winners of its annual business plan competition, the Michigan Business Challenge (MBC). With the move to a virtual environment, MBC continued to thrive through a growing interest in entrepreneurship across a wide variety of disciplines and student degree programs.

Michigan Business Challenge 2021 Zell Lurie InstituteThe Michigan Business Challenge, the University of Michigan’s annual campus-wide business plan competition, exposes students to a rigorous, multi-phase business development and planning process. Open to current undergraduate and graduate students, MBC attracted student teams from medicine, engineering, law, and a number of other disciplines. These entrepreneurial teams have gained valuable feedback from judges, secured cash prizes throughout the multi-round competition, and expanded their business networks.

“In what has been a pretty tough year, University of Michigan entrepreneurs have shown themselves to be up to the challenge,” said Stewart Thornhill, Eugene Applebaum Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and Executive Director of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “Our winning student teams have demonstrated that they will not be stopped, and they have continued a long tradition of innovation and leadership. Entrepreneurs are calculated risk takers and, with support and guidance throughout the multi-round competition, our students have taken the measured steps and leaps of faith necessary to launch scalable ventures.”

The 2021 Michigan Business Challenge once again featured three distinct tracks of competition to reflect the diversity of new ventures competing:

  • The Seigle Impact Track recognizes the business that best pursues a mission-driven goal and aims to stimulate the creation of new businesses, products or services that prioritize social and/or environmental considerations.
  • The Innovation Track recognizes new ventures that offer a product, service, mobile application, or platform serving consumers or enterprises.
  • The Invention Track recognizes ventures that have intellectual property at the core of their high-tech venture and aims to stimulate the creation of new businesses in life sciences, physical sciences, mobility, AR/VR, and more.

Participants in MBC are taken through the entire cycle of new venture creation from composing a strong pitch to writing a comprehensive business plan. During each round, students pitched to panels of judges comprised of accomplished entrepreneurs and investors. Congratulations to the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge winners:

Melinda Su-en Lee University of Michigan Business Challenge Zell Lurie Institute Victor Le University of Michigan Business Challenge Zell Lurie Institute Parcel Health took home first place in the Seigle Impact Track and received $15,000, in addition to the Michigan Investment Challenge (MIC) investment for $2,000, and the OneMagnify Best in Business Award for $5,000. Cofounded by Melinda Su-En Lee (PharmD ’21) and Victor Le (PhD ’21), Parcel Health Inc. creates global impact through sustainable healthcare product innovation. Their first product aims to disrupt the current plastic prescription bottle industry by innovating a 100% curbside-recyclable solution.

CLOVO Brand was awarded second place in the Seigle Impact Track for $7,500. Cofounded by Megan Martis, (MS ’21), CLOVO Brand is a sustainable fashion company that makes natural and sustainable sheer tights that leave less of an impact on the environment and empower women.

Varun Madan LeaseMagnetsAmulya Parmar Lease Magnets Zell Lurie Institute Michigan RossLease Magnets won the Innovation Track Pryor-Hale First Place award for $15,000. The undergraduate student startup was also awarded the $5000 Williamson Award for Outstanding Cross-Functional Team, and the Sillman Undergraduate Team Award for $5,000. Cofounded by Amulya Parmar (BBA/BS ’22) and Varun Madan (BBA ’21), LeaseMagnets is a virtual leasing platform that helps apartments and homeowners better showcase their product, reviews, and referrals online.

Aurora Tights was named second place winner in the Innovation Track and received $7,500, in addition to being awarded runner-up in the MBC Elevator Pitch Competition. Cofounded by Imani Rickerby (MHSA ’21), Aurora Tights is a disruptive company that designs sports apparel for performers of all skin tones and all sizes.

Parker Martin University of Michigan Business Plan Zell Lurie InstituteEpiSLS claimed the $15,000 Pryor-Hale First Place award in the Invention Track. The innovative med-tech company also received the $5,000 Pinkert Healthcare Award for student startup team with the most potential to improve the future of healthcare. Founded by Parker Martin (MD, MBA ’22), EpiSLS is a novel medical device enabling automated, in-vivo allergy testing with a rapid, safe, and reliable platform.

Surgical ComfORt was awarded $7,500 for second place in the the Invention Track. This medical device startup was cofounded by Mark Farha (MD/MBA ’22), Lauren LaMonica (MD ’24), Devlin McConnell (MBA ’22), Christopher Tossas (PhD BME ’22), and Yuvraj Singh (MSE ’22). Surgical ComfORt aims to enhance efficiency and ergonomics of surgical procedures in performed in constrained anatomic spaces by offering a surgical assistive arm with unprecedented maneuverability and versatility of tool attachment.

MintyBrain, an educational STEM gaming company cofounded by Dan Zakon (BS ’21), was awarded first prize in the MBC Elevator Pitch Competition. EQuity, a learning and development venture to help advance racial justice by developing emotional intelligence, founded by Justin Woods (MBA/MSW ’21), took home another runner-up prize in the MBC Elevator Pitch.

A virtual round of applause for these outstanding U-M entrepreneurs! To learn more about the Michigan Business Challenge or the prizes awarded, visit the ZLI website.