School News

The Michigan Ross +Impact Studio Welcomes Six Student-Led Ventures for Summer Program

By Claire Babilonia

Wander into any business school classroom and you will hear ideas on how to shape the future of business. Increasingly, these visions incorporate commitments to creating positive social and/or environmental impact. These ideas have the potential to positively transform how we do business, but how many ever leave the classroom?

Here at the Ross School of Business, the +Impact Studio is committed to bringing impactful ideas to life through the newly launched Founders Program, made possible with support from Applebaum Family Philanthropy. Held for 13 weeks over the summer, the Founders Program brings impact-driven student innovators together to nurture and launch their ideas to change the world. Six student founders have been matched with Applebaum Impact Design Fellows to apply business knowledge, design tools, and research to act on their passions. They will nurture ideas they’ve developed independently or designed through the +Impact Studio course, BA670.

Over the course of the summer, student founders and fellows hone skills such as prototyping, business and mission modeling, go-to-market strategy, storytelling, and impact assessment through focused working time and action-based programming. In addition, the Founders Program connects projects with University of Michigan research expertise, faculty, and experienced social entrepreneurs to advance their impact and accelerate their growth.

Action-oriented programming featuring IDEO, Salesforce, and more

Throughout the summer, a community of innovators will come together to share best practices and advice through weekly meetings and networking events. Among others, the +Impact Studio will welcome:

  • W. David Tarver, tech founder, entrepreneur, and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Dean Malmgren, executive portfolio director at IDEO
  • Wei Wei Hsing, senior technical product manager for EV Charging Systems at Amazon
  • Rob Katz, senior director of product management for ethical and humane use of technology at Salesforce

By connecting student founders and fellows to an interdisciplinary network of social entrepreneurs, faculty, and leaders, the +Impact Studio will help expand students’ networks and open new doors. There will be countless opportunities for student teams to shape their early-stage concepts and tap into the larger entrepreneurship ecosystem at Michigan Ross, U-M, and beyond.

Meet the founders and fellows

For its inaugural cohort, the +Impact Studio welcomes six student-led ventures and entrepreneurs who cut across different schools and departments around campus. The ventures touch on equity, education, health/wellness, and entertainment:

  • ClassBop: an education platform that empowers teachers with consistent, actionable feedback from students. The team consists of undergraduate engineering students, Cindy Gu, BS ’22; Edward Huang, BS ’22; Raeed Rasul, BS ’22; and Ronit Twary, BS ’22.
  • EQuity: a learning and development venture focused on advancing racial justice by developing emotional intelligence, spearheaded by Justin Woods, MBA/MSW ’21.
  • Fit With Ayo: a digital platform focused on making fitness accessible, inclusive, and simple for all women, led by public policy undergraduate student and certified personal trainer Ayodele Ojo, BBA ’23.
  • JournalBoss: a printed journal for entrepreneurs that aims to center personal and professional wellness, led by Jess Halter, MBA/MS ’23.
  • Plucky Comics: an edtech product focused on featuring the stories of Black queer historical figures through graphic novels and comics. Team: Nathan Alston, MBA ’22, and Daniella Gennaro, MBA/MA ’22.
  • StudioX: a content studio dedicated to creating impactful, diverse content and helping others be creative, led by former DreamWorks and Marvel artist and undergraduate student of the Stamps School of Art & Design, Seth St. Pierre, BA ’21.

Student ventures will be supported by business designers and Applebaum Impact Design Fellows: Claire Babilonia, MBA ’21; Onyekachi Ezirike, MBA ’22; Jess Halter, MBA/MS ’23; Lucy Jiang, MS ’21; and Elizabeth Sofranek, MBA ’21.