Urban Entrepreneurship Fall 2017: Final Presentations!

Last night was the final session for U-M ENTR490.012 Urban Entrepreneurship, Fall 2017 edition. Students presented the business models they developed to a distinguished panel of judges. Really interesting business proposals, great presentations, insightful and probing questions from the judges. Thanks to the students for the privilege of being their instructor and facilitator this semester. Thanks to all of the guest lecturers, advisors, and business leaders who made the experience so rich for the students. And last but not least, thanks to our distinguished judging panel:

Ehsan Taqbeem – BAPAC

Shafiqul Bari – BAPAC

Mahnaz Chowdhury – BAPAC

Cris Landa – Venture for America

Marlin Williams – TechTown Detroit and Sisters Code

Special thanks to the Bangladeshi community of Hamtramck, Michigan for being such a welcoming and informative source of community information and ideas.

Team BanglaTea

Team Wonder Walls

Team Fem-Ed Fitness

Judging Panel

P6?

Could this be my next Porsche? Someone traded in this 2016 911 GT3 with only 180 miles! Bargain price of $226K (about $40K OVER the original sticker price. I have the LEGO model of this specific car in this specific color, and it is almost as beautiful as the real thing. Going to pass on this beauty, though. This is a real sports car, great on the track, very uncomfortable to drive around day to day. I can look though!

WOW Cable’s Dark Side

WOW Cable's Dark Side

The Issue

WOW Cable’s TV and internet services are better than decent. Their prices are fair. However, their billing policies are absolutely atrocious. That is, they SUCK. Like those of many other corporate behemoths, their billing practices create an undue burden on working folks. This must change.

Background

I signed up for WOW (Wide Open West) cable a year ago, because I was fed up with Comcast’s constant price increases and other monopolistic behavior. The installation of my new WOW cable and internet service went well. Since I hate sending checks to any vendor on a monthly basis, and absolutely refuse to pay utility bills in person, I signed up for their automatic payment (auto-pay) option, and submitted a form with information that would allow WOW to withdraw the monthly payments from my checking account. Pretty standard stuff. I’ve done this for years with practically every vendor I deal with.

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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!