Rossers Are Driving 9,000 Miles Across the U.S., Helping Entrepreneurs


It’s part road trip, part entrepreneurship, and for the dozen Ross MBAs embarking on a cross-country journey this spring to work with small businesses on their toughest challenges, it’s all adventure.

This week kicks off Ross Open Road, a student-developed initiative that pairs teams of MBA students with entrepreneurs across the country. Ross teams will drive from location to location and spend five weeks working with different startups. Combined, they’ll travel 9,000 miles before hitting their final destinations: their summer internships.

“Open Road is the ultimate representation of what Michigan Ross stands for: it’s entrepreneurial, student-run, and social-impact minded,” said Mikaela Rodkin, MBA/MS ‘17, and member of the Open Road leadership team.

Other members of the organizing team of students are: Aaron Steiner, MBA ‘17; Alex Ho, MBA/MS ‘18; Anita Lin, MBA/MS ‘18; Blake VanFleteren, MBA/MSW ‘17; Brianna Brazell, MBA/MS ‘17; Iris Nguyen, MBA/ME ‘17; and Sarah Haroon, MBA ‘17.

Check out where this year’s teams are headed:


Team Members: Ryan Schell, MBA ‘18; Ariana Almas, MBA ‘18; Zach Friedman, MBA/MS ‘19; Athena Stevenson, MBA ‘18

  • Companies they’ll work with:
  • Merit Goodness, a high-quality clothing brand that donates 20 percent of profits to college scholarships, based in Detroit
  • Vice District Brewing Company in Chicago
  • Wild Idea Buffalo Company, which helps preserve the Great Plains ecosystem by returning buffalo to their homeland and also provides buffalo meat to customers, in Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Fargo Brewing Company in North Dakota
  • The Golden Yoke, an ice cream business in Montana



Team Members: Wiles Kases, MBA/MS ‘18; Colleen Hill, MBA/MS ‘19; Kenji Kaneko, MBA/MSI ‘18; Dilparinder Singh, MBA ‘17

Companies they will work with:

  • Detroit Training Center, which creates customized training programs for employers
  • Gilden Tree, which sells environmentally responsible skincare products and cotton robes in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Ba-Nom-a-Nom, a 100 percent fruit-based alternative to ice cream and frozen yogurt in Denver
  • Roots of Renewal, a community development nonprofit in New Orleans
  • J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works, which harvests a rare salt from an ancient ocean hidden underneath the Appalachian Mountains, based in West Virginia



Team members: Ozge Sahin, MBA ‘18; Kevin Jones, MBA ‘18; Ravi Patel, MBA ‘18; Ava Damri, MBA ‘18

Companies they’ll work with:

  • Sisters on a Roll, a mobile cafe and catering business in Detroit
  • Be More Colorful, a virtual reality content management agency in Fargo, North Dakota
  • Sola Cafe, a restaurant, bakery, and coffeehouse in Bozeman, Mont.
  • RJ Cooper and Associates, a pioneer in the field of Assistive Technology for those with special needs, based in California

Teams will be chronicling their journeys on social media and blogging about each stop along the way over on the Ross Open Road website. You can also follow along on Snapchat — just search for Michigan Ross.

Ross Open Road is sponsored by General Motors, the Zell Lurie Institute, the Center for Social Impact, and Michigan Ross.