More than 20 U-M startups to compete in Michigan Business Challenge


University of Michigan students will get the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs and investors later this week in the hopes of getting one step closer to a portion of more than $85,000 in prize money.

In all, 16 teams will compete in the second round of the Michigan Business Challenge, a startup competition hosted by the Zell Lurie Institute at Michigan Ross. The teams are made up of students from across U-M, and include companies that offer everything from digital facial prosthetics to space weather forecasting.

Click here for a full list of teams competing in the second round.

Last year, the winner of the MBC was a team of Ross BBA students who started the mobile app Companion (pictured above). Since winning, the team has passed several impressive milestones for a young company, and has been featured in national media.

Eight other teams will compete in a separate Social Impact track of the challenge, awarding companies that support and promote social and environmental impact. This is the second year the Michigan Ross Center for Social Impact has sponsored a social impact track for the Michigan Business Challenge. Teams competing in the Social Impact track this year include:


Stacey Matlen (MPH ’16), Mikaela Rodkin (MBA/MS ’17), Ali Jensen (MPH ’16), Christine Priori (MBA/MPH ’17)
Coordinating rides for low-income, low-vehicle access individuals to get to and from supermarkets so they have increased access to healthy, affordable food.


Mohsen Ghazi (JD ’16)
Using advanced algorithms to provide data-driven insights into the social impact and financial strength of publicly traded companies.


Marco A. Hidalgo (MBA ’16)
Alternative investment firm that supports minority-owned businesses with capital investments of $10,000 or more.


Eric Katz (BBA ’17)
Offering a superior aquafeed using insects that adds value to aquaculture operations and reduces environmental impact.


Jeff Plott (PhD ’16), Rachel Atwood (MHI ’16)
Fostering an open exchange of breastfeeding knowledge to develop evidence-based lactation education tools for parents and providers.


Chiedozie Okafor (MBA/MA ’16)
Online tool and app envisioned with students first to improve the number of at-risk students who not only graduate, but are positioned to be competitive in the job market.

Project MESA

Katherine Chen (BSE ’17), Bharathi Ram (MPH ’17), Molly Munsell (BSE ’18)
Designing a portable gynecological exam table to help rural clinicians in developing countries conduct more effective and frequent women’s examinations in mobile health settings.


Suchandan Pal (PhD ’16)
Platform to reduce food waste by connecting small businesses, restaurant owners, and event organizers with volunteers.


Jordan Golshan (BBA ’17), Andy Jinseok Lee (MS ’17), Hyorim Kim (BS ’17)
Maximizing the marketing value of every dollar spent on corporate donations by effectively engaging users through fitness-powered crowdfunding.

Advancing teams from both tracks will compete in the semifinals in February.

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