#UES2016 Urban Jobs Challenge


ENTER NOW! #UES2016 Urban Jobs Challenge Competition


Trenton makes, the world takes.

That motto, erected with huge letters on the side of the Lower Trenton Bridge in New Jersey, represented the 20th century business model for many American cities. It represented a time when entry level manufacturing jobs were plentiful, and as a consequence, many cities were thriving. Flint, Michigan was probably the foremost example of this manufacturing-export business model. In the 1960s, Flint boasted the second-highest per-capita income in the entire United States, based mostly on the strength of its well-paid auto manufacturing work force.

No more.

Decentralization, automation, and globalization have resulted in a major shift of manufacturing jobs out of many American cities, and as a consequence, many of those cities have fallen on hard times. Again, Flint, Michigan is a prime example of this phenomenon. From its lofty 1960s position, Flint’s household income has fallen to roughly half the national average, and the city has gone from virtually full employment in the 1960s to an unemployment rate of 25.6%.

The people of Flint, like the people in many cities, need JOBS – decent-paying, entry-level jobs. Is it possible to fulfill this need? That is what the Urban Jobs Challenge is all about. This first-of-its kind business model competition, managed by the U-M Flint School of Management and the School of Management Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in cooperation with the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, seeks to identify innovative business startups that will result in significant entry-level jobs in places like Flint, Michigan. This competition is your chance to prove your chops as a 21st century urban innovator. Participants are charged with developing a business model that will result in a significant number of entry-level employment opportunities in a city like Flint. The business model presented must take into account the actual circumstances of the Flint community, and must describe a profitable, sustainable, scalable business. The business model may represent a product or a service, but must be a novel solution that embodies significant innovation.

Entries may demonstrate innovation in one or more key areas. Some examples:

  • Innovative forms of organization, such as “gig economy” jobs
  • Work process innovations, such as job-sharing
  • Novel incorporation of technology, e.g. advanced manufacturing, remote workers
  • Addressing underserved or emerging customer/market needs, such as elder care

Purpose of the Urban Jobs Challenge:

To focus challenge participants and the community at large on the opportunity to improve Flint’s employment and income levels by applying for-profit business innovation. To encourage the development of businesses that can lead to a higher quality of life in Flint and similar communities by significantly increasing entry-level employment opportunities.


Who can participate?

Participants must be high school graduates, 18 years of age or older.

We are looking for ideas from individuals or new teams, not established companies. Therefore, your team does not have to be a legally formed entity. Proposed ideas cannot have already attracted more than $10,000 in revenue, including third party investment.



The winning entry will receive:

  • Meeting and advisory session with SkyPoint Ventures, Flint.
    • Discussions and advice relating to business strategy, funding, facilities, connections
  • Meeting and advisory session with U-M Flint School of Management.
    • Discussions and advice relating to business strategy, marketing, finance, and more
  • $2,500.00 cash award.


Four submissions will be selected as challenge finalists.  Each finalist will present their business model at the Urban Jobs Challenge Finals on the afternoon of Thursday, October 20.

Transportation, lodging, and meal expenses will be covered for up to two members per Michigan-based team. Lodging and meal expenses will be covered for up to two members per non-Michigan-based team.

Applicants will be notified by 10/10/2016 of the finalist selections. All finalists will participate in a teleconference mentor session held on or about 10/12/2016, and must submit the PowerPoint presentation they will present at the UEI finals, by 10/17/2016.

Please address any questions to jobs-questions@urbanei.org. Include “[last name] – UEI Urban Jobs Challenge” in the subject line.


Submission Guidelines

Entries must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on October 4, 2016

Participants are encouraged to present original and innovative proposals, which must be no more than four pages in length (2000 words maximum).  Participants may organize the proposal as they wish, but must clearly and concisely address each of the following questions. Note that we are not asking participants to submit, nor will we accept, a “full-blown” business plan. We are seeking only a detailed description of the business model, which should take much less time to generate than a business plan.

  1. Identify the key customer segment(s) you are seeking to serve. Describe the problem you are solving for each customer segment, and what makes that problem important.
  2. Give a brief description of your solution (product or service) and its key features. What unique benefits or advantages does it provide to customers?
  3. How will your business make money? What are the main revenue streams? What are the main costs?
  4. How will the customer buy your product (i.e. in stores, on the web, business-to-business, etc.)?
  5. How will you establish, maintain, and enhance the relationship with your customer base?
  6. What key activities are required to make this business a success (e.g. marketing, sales, product development)? Be specific in describing those activities you must be especially good at to be successful.
  7. What key resources are required to make this business a success (e.g. key people/roles, facilities, equipment, etc.). Be specific. Which of these resources do you currently have? How do you intend to acquire the resources you don’t currently have?
    1. How many entry level employees do you estimate this business will need after two years of operation? After five years? How will you achieve these levels of employment?
  8. What key partners will your business need to leverage to make this business a success?
  9. Describe the industry and competitive landscape for your solution. How will you deal with the industry and competitive forces that your product or service will face?
  10. What have you done to validate your business model? How have you established that your potential customers experience the problem that you are solving? How have you established that you will be able to sell the product at a price that will yield a sufficient profit?

Submit your entry with the email subject line: “[last name] – UEI Urban Jobs Challenge” in PDF format to ues2016jobs@urbanei.org. File size may not exceed 3 MB. [last name] is the name of your team contact person.


Flint, Michigan background information



How are submissions judged?

Finalists will be selected by a panel of urban-aware entrepreneurs and business experts selected by the U-M Flint School of Management and the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative. When evaluating each entry, the judges will consider the following criteria:

  • clarity and conciseness of the business model information
  • completeness of the business model information
  • degree of innovation
  • job creation potential
  • suitability for the Flint community
  • profitability, scalability, and sustainability
  • evidence of business model validation


What are the future requirements if I am selected as a challenge finalist?

Finalists are required to submit a pitch deck that supports a 4-minute PowerPoint pitch presentation. The pitch deck must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. on October 17, 2016. Once submitted, you will not be able to make changes to your pitch deck.

Why are the U-M Flint School of Management and the Hagerman Center participating in this challenge?

The University of Michigan – Flint and the Hagerman Center support the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium and has a strong desire to drive the impact of innovation in the State of Michigan. The U-M Flint School of Management is managing this challenge because it believes in the power of entrepreneurship to positively impact the Flint community.

Will the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, the U-M Flint School of Management, or the Hagerman Center own the submitted business model information?

No, challenge entrants will retain ownership of their submissions.

Whom should I contact with additional questions?

Questions should be addressed to jobs-questions@urbanei.org with the subject “[last name] – UEI Urban Jobs Challenge”. Submissions must be received by 11:59 P.M. EST on October 4, 2016.

What is the cost to participate?

There is no entry cost associated with the Urban Jobs Challenge.

How can I learn more about Flint, Michigan?

For more information about Flint, Michigan, click here.

What items are required in my application?

See the ‘Submission Guidelines’ section above.  In addition, please provide a cover page with the following information:

  • team or company name (if applicable)
  • full name, e-mail address, contact phone, and mailing address for each team member
  • indicate who the primary team contact person is
  • date of your submission

This cover page is not included in the four-page proposal length limit.


Additional Rules

  • Each team may submit only one Urban Jobs Challenge business model, and each individual participant may be a member of only one team.
  • All business models submitted must be the original work of those making the submission.
  • The decisions of the judges are final, including interpretation of the rules.
  • Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, Inc. and the University of Michigan shall be held harmless in any legal action.
  • Participants are responsible for their own intellectual property. Participants must keep confidential information confidential.
  • Entry materials become the property of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, Inc.
  • Participants may be disqualified if they engage in immoral activities such as lying or cheating, or any activity that may adversely affect the image of the Urban Jobs Challenge.
  • Any violation of the competition rules will disqualify the violating team from the competition, and will result in the forfeiture of any awards.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Guidelines

  • Before submitting any information relating to your business model in connection with this competition, we urge you to confirm with appropriate advisors or legal counsel that any intellectual property described in your plan is appropriately protected.
  • All public sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include radio, television and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.
  • The authors will retain all copyrights to the submitted business model information regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated below. Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.
  • The organizers of the Urban Jobs Challenge may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations including the business model information and other documents, charts or material prepared for use in presentation. By entering the competition, you will have agreed to grant a release to the organizers, sponsors and funding sources of the competition to use such materials without restriction.