U-M Urban Entrepreneurship, Winter 2024 Edition – It’s a Wrap!

First stop on the Urban Experience Tour of Detroit, as always: Good Cakes and Bakes…and as always, co-founder & U-M alum April Anderson did not disappoint!

Well, its that time again – another season of the University of Michigan Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum is now “in the can.” We had a small but mighty class this semester, and the students broke new ground. Working with U-M interns and the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, the students pioneered a new, concise method for capturing and presenting business model and marketing strategy information for urban-focused businesses. This new approach should prove useful for “getting the word out” about urban-focused business ventures to potential partners, funders, employees, and others.

Winter 2024 Urban Entrepreneur Partners

The connection between student teams and real, practicing urban entrepreneurs is at the heart of the Urban Entrepreneurship course. Our Urban Entrepreneur Partners (UEPs, or Partners) share their business model and marketing strategy information with the students, connect them with key community and marketplace stakeholders, respond to student questions, and review their work. Students, once they gain a working understanding of the business and the marketplace, suggest improvements to the Partner’s business model and marketing strategy. The students’ suggestions can be a source of fresh ideas and “food for thought” for the entrepreneurs. The students, in turn, learn a lot from the Partners’ business journey, experiences, and community familiarity.

Winter 2024 Urban Entrepreneur Partner: BSG Tire Recycling, Detroit

Ethan Dunn, BSG Tire Recycling CEO, speaks to students during Winter 2024 Urban Experience Tour

BSG tire recycling, founded by Detroiter Ethan Dunn, aims to remove waste tires from the community and turn them into useful products. Ethan’s company is the only licensed tire recycler in the City of Detroit, and he is on a mission to achieve “full circularity” for waste tires. He aims to recycle waste tires rather than seeing them go to incinerators, landfills, or illegal dump sites. The students visited BSG tires during our tour of Detroit, heard directly from Ethan, and saw the tire recycling machinery in action. Huge thanks to Ethan, and to James Feagin for connecting Ethan with the class.

Ethan is currently working to expand his operation to increase capacity and to produce a higher-quality recycled rubber that can be used to make new tires. If you’re interested in learning more, reply here or contact BSG tires directly.

Winter 2024 Urban Entrepreneur Partner: Harris Family Health, Flint

Harris Family Health provides subscription-based primary healthcare to Flint, Michigan area residents. Aisha Harris, founder, is a Flint native who received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Michigan and her medical degree from Georgetown University. After completing her residency in Chicago and working in a corporate clinical healthcare setting, Aisha decided to return to her hometown and try a new primary healthcare model that is starting to gain traction. In return for a monthly subscription fee, her patients enjoy a more personalized type of care that avoids the crowded, impersonal primary care settings that exist in many working-class communities.

Aisha is busy establishing her practice and growing it to the desired level. Despite the inevitable growth, she is committed to maintaining personal patient relationships and a high-quality level of care. Dr. Harris was generous with her time and was always available to provide fast e-mail responses to student questions, and we greatly appreciate her contributions to the class.

An action-filled semester capped with Final Presentations

Students and panelists following Winter 2024 Final Presentations: everyone is still smiling!

The Winter 2024 edition of Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum ended on April 18 with the student teams’ final presentations. The students presented their findings and recommendations to a distinguished panel, including:

  • Christie Baer, Managing Director, Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project
  • Dr. Robin Boyle, Professor of Urban Planning (Emeritus), Wayne State University
  • Lucie Fornasiero, Director, EAFocus, Inc.
  • Sheu-Jane Gallagher, SJ/Gallagher Consulting
  • Fred Hall, President, H&P Protective Services and Novatech Computer Services
  • Moses Lee, CEO, Michigan Language Center & Lecturer, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship

Thanks to our panel, to my Instructional Assistant Isha Singh, and to my course advisor and “partner-in-crime” Mr. Reggie Barnett. Most of all, thanks to the students for your hard work, time, and attention. Due to your efforts, I learn a little more each semester about urban entrepreneurial innovation. This class was a blast, and I’m looking forward to “running it back” in the fall.


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