Urban-Focused Entrepreneurship: Help us find the PAIN!

Once again, we’re livin’ for the city.

Livin' for the City

Fall is almost upon us, and so it is time for the next edition of my University of Michigan class, “Urban-Focused Entrepreneurship.” In this class, students learn to create a for-profit business model to solve an important urban problem. The process begins with students engaging an urban community and its residents and leaders to identify a problem-solving opportunity. Students will continue to engage the community to determine and validate an important problem, and will work further with the community in order to test and validate their solutions. For many of the students, this is their first experience working with an urban community, and they almost always say that they come away richer from the experience.

This Fall, we will be connecting the students with community leaders and organizations who can help them identify community improvement opportunities, and who will be available for follow-up discussions and feedback. You can help make this an even more enriching experience for the students in one of two ways:

  1. Suggest an organization that is immersed in an urban community who my students can contact and work with.
  2. Suggest a community improvement opportunity, or “problem,” that you would like to see addressed in your own (urban) community.

You can send your suggestions in the comment section (below) or via e-mail to davidtarver@davidtarver.com. Stay tuned to this blog and to my Facebook (davidtarver) and Twitter (@davidtarver) streams. We’ll be providing brief updates and pictures throughout the coming academic season. If you are interested in attending our demo day at the end of the term, indicate this in the comments section.

Engineers with Attitude!

TAS co-founders

Engineers with attitude, together again (l-r): TAS co-founders David Tarver, Steve Moore, Charles Simmons

Friday, July 21 was a pretty cool day in Detroit. For the first time ever, I and the two co-founders of Telecom Analysis Systems, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, got together to discuss our experience. Steve traveled to Detroit from his home in North Carolina, and Charles came out from New Jersey, which is where our company was located. The event was called “Candid Conversations and Code,” and it was co-sponsored by TechTown Detroit and the Michigan Science Center. Big kudos to Marlin Williams of TechTown, and to Dr. Tonya Matthews of the Detroit Science Center, for putting this together. 

Hard to believe it’s been more than thirty years since I and my buddies left secure and prestigious jobs at AT&T Bell Laboratories to start a tech company in the basement of my Little Silver, New Jersey home. The fact that we did so, in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement when every career achievement seemed like a “first,” is something that we are forever proud of and grateful for. It definitely wasn’t easy, but as Steve used to always say, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!”

Kudos and thanks to my co-founders for making the trek to Detroit. In addition to the main program at Michigan Science Center, we did a number of media spots, and the whole event was recorded for later broadcast. When all of this media becomes available, we will post it on this blog. In the meantime, here is a short spot that I recorded for NPR Michigan Radio in connection with the event.

 

 

 

 

Voices: Entrepreneur and engineer on what happens when your dream dies

I HATE failure with a passion, but I must admit that I have experienced it. In fact, you could say that failure is a necessary evil on the road to success. So when Model D asked me to recount one of my most painful failures, I just had to share. I hope you find my experience enlightening.

This story is excerpted and adapted from my book, “Proving Ground: A Memoir.”

W. David Tarver thought he had invented a new and improved synthesizer beloved by Stevie Wonder. But neither of those things were true. In this personal essay, he talks about coming to grips with a failed invention he spent years perfecting.

Source: Voices: Entrepreneur and engineer on what happens when your dream dies

I’ve Joined the Wayne State University Team

David Tarver has joined the Wayne State University team

I’m joining the team at Wayne State University, where the work will indeed be 24/7 and 365!

As of July 17, 2017, I have accepted a senior administrative position with Wayne State University  (WSU) in Detroit, Michigan. The position is Senior Counselor to the Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In this role, I will provide guidance and overall strategic direction to the University in areas of innovation and entrepreneurship, and will administer initiatives designed to foster and enhance the campus-wide entrepreneurship ecosystem. This is a new position at Wayne State, and I will be responsible both to the university provost and the vice president of economic development.

I am excited about this new role at Wayne State because I am passionate about using the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to enhance the quality of life in cities. Wayne State’s urban location, together with its diverse student population, make it a unique and ideal place to identify important problems and foster the creation of sustainable, scalable solutions. I look forward to working with the talented students, faculty, and staff of Wayne State to facilitate a world-class environment of innovation and business creation.

I will continue to teach my course, “Urban-Focused Entrepreneurship,” at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The next edition of that course will begin on September 6, 2017. In addition, I also intend to continue in my volunteer role as board president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI), the organization I founded in 2014. Due to my responsibilities at WSU, we will be adding resources to UEI so that we can continue to execute and enhance our Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium and other programs. We will have more announcements on this front shortly.

Those who know of my history and ongoing association with The University of Michigan may be surprised that I would engage in so important a role with Wayne State. While I cherish my Wolverine heritage, I relish this opportunity to advance the mission at Wayne State, which is Michigan’s only urban research university. I intend that our work at WSU will provide a platform for others to engage in the revitalization and well-being of Detroit and other cities, and in that sense my work there will definitely be a win-win.

Will It Explode? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I explained that my daughter Nadiyah and I were going to power up my very first personal computer, a machine that I built from a kit way back in 1983.  It hasn’t been turned on since the late eighties, so the object of our little lab session is to answer the question: will it still work after all these years, or will it explode? In this episode, Part 2, we finally plug the little monster in and find out.  Wish us luck!

Please forgive the video framing, which chops off about half of my big head!

Black History Month is About MAKING History, Not Just Studying History

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, circa 1870

As a young person coming of age in the 1960s, I learned a smattering of black history in school. We studied, however briefly, black icons like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Though clearly important, these people often seemed frozen in amber, because my contemporaries and I were witnessing new history being made in the black struggle every year. The tumultuous 1960s inspired us to believe that we could make history, not merely study it. This year we find ourselves celebrating some heretofore unknown history makers: the women whose story is told in the movie Hidden Figures. We examine anew the themes of the 20th century black liberation struggle expressed by James Baldwin and retold in the movie I am Not your Negro. These stories inspire us, but they also challenge us to add our own chapters to the black history narrative.

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Will It Explode? (Part 1)

In early 1983, thirty-four years ago, I got my first “serious” personal computer, a Heathkit H-89 all-in-one machine. I built it from scratch, which means that I soldered all the components on the circuit boards and assembled all of the subsystems into the completed unit. I bought the computer to help with the business I intended to start – Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. (TAS).  It was the tool I used to write and edit our business plan, and to develop and test the hardware and firmware of our product prototypes. In those days, the H-89 worked like a charm, and never gave me or my co-founders, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, a bit of trouble.

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A Jewel, Made in Flint

Last Fall, in conjunction with the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the music of Mama Sol, who performed at our Matrix Networking Reception. Now that was a real treat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of rap music in general, but there are a few artists whose work transcends the particular genre they happen to operate in. In the rap arena, my favorite example is Public Enemy. In R&B, the quintessential example would be Stevie Wonder. Mama Sol is one of those unique artists who capture and reflect their time and place in this world. She does so in a way that convinces you that she feels her poetry in her bones, in her SOUL.  Her poetry can simultaneously convey sweetness, familiarity, anger, and inspiration. The fact that she is of, by, and for Flint, Michigan is really special, but her music is by no means limited or limiting. Last Fall, I called her Flint’s poet laureate, and I was not exaggerating. 

If you want to be inspired, check out Mama Sol’s latest, Go O.F.F., or the earlier Inside Out. Let me know what you think.

mama sol

Kishna and I had the pleasure of meeting Mama Sol in conjunction with last Fall’s Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint.

Road Trip 2017

It’s time to start planning for the 2017 Road Trip. I look forward to seeing more of this country (and a bit of Canada) up close and personal. I really like experiencing new places and meeting interesting people. Probably more than anything, I treasure the opportunity to think and reflect and listen to audiobooks during the hours and hours of windshield time.

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