The Proving Ground movie tells the story of my entrepreneurial journey from determined and precocious kid in Flint Michigan to leader of a multi-million-dollar global telecommunications instrumentation company. The movie is based on my book “Proving Ground: A Memoir,” which culminates in the inspiring story of how I and my two co-founders – Steven Moore and Charles Simmons – left our lucrative and secure positions at the legendary Bell Laboratories and started a business, from scratch, in my basement. Making the story available as a documentary film will enable it to impact the widest possible audience.
The air is cool, the leaves are changing color, and the buzz is back in Ann Arbor. It’s that time again – time for the Fall 2022 edition of the Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum course at University of Michigan Ann Arbor. I’ve been teaching in the U-M College of Engineering/Center for Entrepreneurship since 2012, and I must say I’ve never been more excited about teaching than I am right now.
Big congratulations to Mo Faisal, Jeff Fredenburg, and the team at Movellus for closing a $23 million Series B funding round. Mo and Jeff are both Ph.D. graduates of the U-M College of Engineering, which is where they began development of the core technology and business concepts for Movellus. The company has developed and patented novel timing generation technology for next generation complex integrated circuits. Their technology provides a potential competitive advantage for semiconductor industry companies. I invested in Movellus’ initial seed round and each subsequent round, so needless to say I’m happy and proud about the company’s achievements to date.
I’ve participated in more Demo Day events than I can remember. These events have been sponsored by community organizations, education institutions, companies, investment groups, not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, and even churches. In 2015, President Barack Obama presided over the first-ever White House Demo Day. This occurrence cemented the status of Demo Day as a bonafide cultural phenomenon.
The Lab Drawer® founders Alecia Gabriel and Deirdre Roberson started their company because, as black STEM professionals and artists, they envision a world in which black and brown excellence in STEAM fields is commonplace. I first met Alecia and Deirdre when I served as their coach for Detroit Demo Day 2021. I was immediately drawn to their expertise, energy, and dedication.
The Fall 2020 edition of the Urban Entrepreneurship course is a wrap! In the course, students learn what it takes to build an “urban-focused” business, i.e., an enterprise that addresses an important urban community need. The Covid-19 pandemic presented unique challenges, but thanks to great entrepreneur partners and hard-working students, we turned those challenges into opportunities.