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.
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.
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.
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:
Suggest an organization that is immersed in an urban community who my students can contact and work with.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
On this Martin Luther King Day 2017, I can do no better than to reprise the remarks I delivered at the University of Michigan MLK Spirit Awards reception in January, 2014. The movement still reverberates, the issues I raised are more relevant than ever, and the future that I outlined draws ever closer. Watch the video…
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.
Kishna and I had the pleasure of meeting Mama Sol in conjunction with last Fall’s Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint.
It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.
I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year. I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey. Here we go…
It has now been more than a month since I was scammed out of my iPhone 6, as described in my earlier post on the subject. I’ve had several calls and email exchanges with eBay “customer service” agents and supervisors who have done absolutely nothing but say that nothing can or would be done. Well, just this morning, as I was spreading the last of my blackberry jam on my English muffin top at a local restaurant, I received a call from an 801 exchange – UTAH! A real, live eBay exec by the name of Danny Faust was on the other end of the line. He said that as a result of my blog post and the subsequent article on the eCommerceBytes blog, executives at eBay had taken a look at my case, and that as a result, they determined the following:
The address provided by my “buyer” was actually a freight forwarder, which should have prima facia voided the eBay “Money Back Guarantee.”
The “buyer” should have provided the picture of the device and shipping box that I requested after the “buyer” submitted their claim.
The fact that the return item (the piece of crap credit-card scanner, remember?) was drop-shipped from Texas rather than from the address my phone was shipped to should have raised flags.
The result of the above, per Mr. Faust, was that eBay was refunding the $328.00 payment that they froze and subsequently removed from my PayPal account.
I found out the hard way that EBay is facilitating the theft of items people post for sale on their site.
I just had an experience with EBay that I find extremely discouraging, and the result is that I will no longer be posting any items for sale on EBay. EBay’s “Money Back Guarantee program” protects unscrupulous, scam “buyers” by returning their money even if they falsely claim that they received a damaged item, or even that they didn’t receive the item. The seller is left holding the bag, or in my own case, holding a bogus piece of junk. Something must be done to address this outrageous situation, before many, many more occasional EBay sellers are scammed. In the meantime, my recommendation is that you do not post anything for sale on EBay that you are not willing to give away!