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entrepreneurship

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Government failed Flint.

It's pretty tough to dispute that statement, knowing what we know about how the Flint water crisis came to be, and how it was dismissed and denied by bureaucrats and officials at all levels of government.
 

Entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Joseph Sanberg believes we should work through the boardroom to help address working-class problems, not just wait for government to fix things.

Courtesy of Zollipops

The Next Idea

There’s now a new way to enjoy candy – without the cavities and the tooth decay.

Zollipops” are 11-year-old Michigander Alina Morse’s creation. They’re sugar-free and gluten-free suckers, made with natural flavors and colors, that are good for your teeth.

Courtesy of Chelsea Liddy

Kicking open the door to "the boy's club,” and bringing opportunities to women who want to make their mark on the comic book and gaming world: that's the mission of ComiqueCon.

It’s a comic book convention specifically for women who create comics. And it's happening Oct. 22 in Dearborn at the Arab American National Museum.

Max Nussenbaum is the CEO of Castle, a company looking to make property management simpler and more efficient
Courtesy of Generation Startup

What's the barrier between you and the life you truly want to lead?

That's one of the questions Cheryl Miller Houser explores as co-director of the documentary film Generation Startup.

It follows some young entrepreneurs as they build startups in Detroit. They try, stumble, learn, and try again.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Business leaders in the Saginaw-Midland-Bay City region hope entrepreneurs will fill the employment gap left by layoffs by major local employers.

Public Domain

The Next Idea

Among small business owners in Michigan, access to capital remains one of the most significant challenges, especially for people in underserved communities. This seems to be true even in places with improving economies, like West Michigan. The area has seen a strong post-recession recovery in recent years, and ranks highly in the prevalence of investors. WalletHub named Grand Rapids #2 in its 2016 rankings of “Best Large Cities to Start a Business,” yet it was ranked 43rd out of 150 cities analyzed in terms of access to resources.

Garden Fresh

You may not know Dave Zilko's name, but you've probably seen his products in your grocery store.  Zilko is the former vice chairman of Garden Fresh Gourmet. He and business partners Jack and Annette Aronson took a scrappy little Oakland County company that was deep in debt and turned it into the number one brand of fresh salsa in North America, with revenues topping $100 million.  Last June, Garden Fresh was sold to Campbell Soup Company for $231 million.

Mason County competition stimulates local business

Jul 18, 2016
The Momentum Business Plan Competition galvanized entreprenuer Andy Thomas's brewery, Starving Artist Brewing.
Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

For the last two years, Mason County has the Momentum Business Plan Competition, which awards $50,000 to entrepreneurs during the startup phase of their businesses. The project aims to boost entrepreneurship and small businesses within the county. Prize money is provided by local sponsors and organizations.

The riverfront in Traverse City
Public Domain

The Next Idea

Most anyone would agree that Traverse City is one of Michigan’s crown jewels. It’s a beautiful location and a great place to live, visit and retire.

But one thing Traverse City has lacked is a strong central point for the area’s tech industry.

Russell Schindler is a Traverse City geologist and entrepreneur. He basically got sick and tired of driving nearly four hours to Ann Arbor for tech meet-ups, so he started a new group, called TC New Tech.

Let's stop with the Silicon Valley comparisons

Dec 9, 2015
Flickr/Scott Lewis / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

In Detroit and across Michigan (and just about anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, for that matter), there is often talk about becoming the next Silicon Valley.  This comparison gets pretty tiresome. If innovation is about "new and different," why would we want to be something that already exists?

Detroit has its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and we should strive to be something new, something different.

flickr user Daviddje / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

There are many questions about how the public and private sectors can and should work together.

Gabe Klein has had some success on both sides of that equation. He helped ZipCar grow from a small startup to a company known across the nation, and he has had key executive roles in city government in Washington DC and Chicago.

His new book is Startup City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done & Having Fun.

Grocoff: "If we wish to sustain the climate to which we and all living things have adapted, then we need to design systems more like old growth forests and less like tree farms."
Jim Sorbie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

As The Next Idea continues to explore innovation in Michigan, it’s clear that amidst the new technology and new breakthroughs, some concepts stand the test of time.

One such concept was summed up by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods."

That was the key to the success of Michigan inventor, businessman and innovator Webster Marble.

Flickr/MichBio / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

For decades men have considered bars, clubs, locker rooms and golf courses open territory in which they can ask for introductions and guidance to advance their businesses and careers.

But something like the Old Boys’ Network has mostly eluded women. Our formal and informal networks are not as robust, perhaps because we are still hampered by the competition that existed when there was only one seat for a woman at any important table.

Courtesy of Backyard Brains

The Next Idea

All it takes is one new innovation or successful company to change the economic fortunes of an entire city or region.

More often though, it’s the cumulative effect of many new innovations and successful companies that create lasting economic change.

Regardless if it’s one or 1000, new tech companies have an arduous path to success. Yet because of their potentially huge payoffs, competition to host them and their talented workforce is fierce.

Courtesy of Sakti3

The Next Idea

Ann Marie Sastry is a former University of Michigan professor, a material science researcher, and the founder of Sakti3 -- one of 30 companies invited to showcase its work at the first-ever White House Demo Day.

She's developing the next generation of low-cost batteries, a solid state solution that has generated results and hype.  A Fortune magazine article titled "Will this battery change everything?" offers a detailed look into what stands to happen if the company can achieve the "holy grail of power storage."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After spending years of taking orders in the military, a growing number of Michigan veterans are now giving orders in the civilian world. 

"A couple years ago, I had a few home-brew beers with a buddy of mine," Erik May says. "And I started asking him where the beer geographically came from.  Where the ingredients came from.  Pretty quickly I realized there was a big need for local malt."

From that realization, Air Force veteran Erik May launched his West Michigan malt-making business.

A Women's Business Social held in 2012 by No More Nylons, an organization that teaches women how to be successful entrepreneurs.
Jodie Womack / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Women are getting tired of waiting for corporate America to give them the pay and opportunities they need.

So they’re taking matters into their own hands.

flickr/jmarty / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Silicon Valley churns out apps to “change the world,” but whose world are they really changing? How do we know if these new technologies are going to work in a city like Detroit, for example?

All across America, digital innovations have proliferated in the last four decades, but poverty rates haven’t budged, and inequality has skyrocketed.     

People who are elderly, poor, or not white have new ideas too

Jun 15, 2015
Flickr/George A. Spiva Center for the Arts

The Next Idea

“We never know where the next big innovation is going to come from.”

That’s a common phrase we hear over and over, and it is true. 

VH1

Entrepreneurs can pop up out of anywhere.

Take Kellyann Wargo of Ann Arbor.

While she was a student at the University of Michigan, her entrepreneur’s eye saw a business opportunity in the “Walk of Shame” so many students take on the “morning after the night before.”

She started charging five bucks to drive people home. That idea eventually turned into the Walk of Shame Shuttle, her business.

Flickr

The Next Idea

Michigan will never be the next Silicon Valley.

Michigan can't compete with the allure of the Coasts, or even Chicago, for the nation's best talent.

Michigan investors and politicians are too conservative to support true innovation.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Rick DeVos’ venture capital fund will stop giving away $5,000 each week to people with a good business idea. The fund, known as Start Garden, has given $5,000 to nearly 200 entrepreneurs in the last three years.

“A few years ago the biggest thing that it seemed like the region needed was a lot of experimentation and to get over fear of risk,” said Paul Moore, communications director for Start Garden.

Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

Michigan’s economy is changing, and our state’s investment culture must change along with it. As we work to diversify by stimulating entrepreneurship, innovation and talent attraction, among many other things, more Michigan residents with money to invest must learn to see that betting on new local businesses is worthwhile, even if the potential for them to fail is high. 

Courtesy of optiMize

The Next Idea

In his essay for The Next Idea, contributor Jamie Shea, who helps finance social enterprises, argues that Michigan has an opportunity to become a global leader in new ideas to solve age-old social problems. One reason Michigan has this potential, he says, is because “new social enterprises are often led by Millennials who want to align their work with their values.  

Courtesy of Urban Ashes

The Next Idea

I think most people would agree that Michigan is on the rebound. In Detroit, where I live, new restaurants are popping up on a weekly basis, national retailers are moving in, and corporations are opening new offices. This hint of change in the Pure Michigan air is still polluted, however, by many of the same intractable issues -- homelessness, unequal access to education and food, and environmental degradation, to name a few. Much like the rest of our economy, these old problems require a new approach.

Luther College_Photo Bureau / Flickr

Is Michigan just too modest, too Midwestern in the way it treats its prominent entrepreneurs? Jeff DeGraff thinks the answer might be yes.

DeGraff is a clinical professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and our partner for the Next Idea. Jeff DeGraff has two questions for listeners:

How would you identify the best and the brightest? And what kinds of help would you give them?

The Next Idea

You may have never heard of Joseph Schumpeter, an eccentric Austrian economist who taught at Harvard in the 1930s and '40s. But to those of us who study the strategic and financial dynamics of innovation, he is far more influential than his peers John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman. Schumpeter is the guy who made the entrepreneur the engine of growth for an economy, and several Nobel Laureates since have suggested that he was right on most counts.

Today on Stateside: 

  • Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced his resignation. Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark discuss this and more Michigan politics.
  • Nicolette Hahn Niman, vegetarian and environmental-lawyer-turned-cattle rancher, discusses her new book, Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production
  • Entrepreneurship is on the decline, and that’s not good for the economy. Listen to University of Michigan professor of entrepreneurial studies Stewart Thornhill discuss why entrepreneurship is so important for economic growth.
  • Two years have passed since the passage of the right-to-work law in Michigan. What has or hasn’t changed? Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, and Charles Ballard, economics professor at Michigan State University, discuss the first two years of right to work in Michigan.
  • On Dec. 14, 1799, the nation’s first president, George Washington, died in his home. Washington’s death wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, largely due to his treatment. Dr. Howard Markell, physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan, discusses Washington’s final day. 

xianrendujia / Flickr

With all the news about Silicon Valley startups, you could get the idea that entrepreneurship is thriving in the United States.

The reality is U.S. entrepreneurship has been in a pretty steep decline for 30 years. The Next Idea team got to wondering about that. So, we asked Stewart Thornhill to write an essay about entrepreneurship. He’s a professor who teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan.

Turning a dreamer into an entrepreneur

Dec 10, 2014
Flickr

Once someone learns that I’m an entrepreneurship professor, sooner or later I’ll be asked: “Can you really teach entrepreneurship?” This seems to come from the long-held – and consistently disproved – belief that entrepreneurs are special and if you aren’t born that way (props to Lady Gaga), there’s no point in trying. So let’s get that out of the way right now. Yes, entrepreneurship can be taught and learned, and entrepreneurs are just like the rest of us.

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