We are nearing completion of the Fall 2023 edition of the Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum. We are fortunate to be working with three businesses that are outstanding examples of urban entrepreneurship at its best. While it may not be immediately obvious to the casual observer, each of these businesses addresses an important need, and each has the potential to bring about transformative positive change.
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.
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.
Though I lived and worked just a few miles from where this hidden giant of science lived and worked; though his nephew was my professor and thesis advisor at University of Michigan; though we frequented the same barbershop, for Christ’s sake; I never met Walter S. McAfee. I didn’t even know who he was until after he died. I now know that he could have, as much as anyone, claimed to be a founder of The Space Age.
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.
My urban entrepreneurship course prepares students to deliver game changing business innovation and solutions for urban communities. The course pairs teams of talented students with entrepreneurs who have developed or are developing an urban-focused business. Urban Entrepreneur Partners benefit by having enthusiastic, talented U-M students helping to document, evaluate and improve their business model.
Nine years ago (May 2011), just after Aaron’s graduation from University of Michigan School of Business, he and I took a father/son trip to Africa. Aaron and I learned and experienced a lot on this trip. Now, in the midst of the Covid-19 timeout, I have finally found the time to share a bit of our adventure.