Here’s What U-M Students Are Going to Do With $85,000 in Prize Money
After months of competition, business plan refinement, and presentations to advisors and investors, several University of Michigan students are getting a boost to kick-start their businesses.
More than 100 teams were signed up to compete in the Michigan Business Challenge, sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute. But in the end, just four teams emerged victorious and walked away with the biggest chunk of $85,000 in prize money to help bring their business plans to reality.
Here’s what they each plan to build with that funding:
Grand Prize Winner - PreDxion
PreDxion (pronounced: Prediction), took home the grand prize at this year’s Michigan Business Challenge, winning $30,000 in seed funding for their medical device company.
Started by Caroline Landau, MBA ‘16, and Walker McHugh, MSE ‘17, PreDxion looks to help physicians easily monitor the immune responses of cancer patients as they go through immunotherapy. Something that’s harder than it should be with current technology, the team says.
“We believe that our technology will fundamentally change the way these patients are treated,” the team said. “This will allow greater success in this nascent field and even more discovery.”
Runner-Up - Gaudium
The $10,000 won by the runner-up team, Gaudium, will help the start-up entertainment company launch a new mobile game that the team says will be the first of its kind in the U.S. market.
David Cai, BS ‘16; Amanda Li, MAcc ‘16; Kevin Jeon, BS ‘16; Ni Yan, and Andrew Yang have developed a game that embodies a “fusion of Japanese art and western game play.”
“It’s a game based around anime style tank-girl characters,” the team said. “Japanese culture has developed a phenomenon of anthropomorphizing everything from household items to warships. We decided to try out our own spin of it, and deploy it locally in English.”
The team will continue the development of the game and use their MBC winnings to grow their company.
Social Impact Track
For the second year in a row, the Center for Social Impact, the Erb Institute, and ZLI have sponsored a social impact track for the Michigan Business Challenge, giving companies that support and promote social and environmental impact an additional chance to earn funding for their ventures.
This year’s social impact track winners won more than $20,000 for their businesses - here’s how that money will make an impact:
Grand Prize Winner - Kulisha
Kulisha, from Eric Katz, BBA ‘17, took home the top prize in the social impact track, earning $15,000 to help launch his aquafeed company.
Kulisha produces a sustainable, commercial grade fish feed that will help divert food waste from ending up in landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help stop trawling.
Designed to help small-scale aquaculture farmers in Kenya, Katz says the Kulisha product has the potential to increase farmers’ yields, help improve profitability, and supply more food to the region.
“The Michigan Business Challenge has given us mentorship and guidance to create a business plan that we can execute on,” said Katz.
Social Impact Track Runner-Up - StepFor
StepFor, developed by Jordan Golshan, BBA ‘17; Andy Jinseok Lee, MS ‘17; and Hyorim Kim, BS ‘17, received $7,500 for their runner-up placement in the social impact track of the MBC.
Their company looks to turn daily steps into charitable contributions. Building an app that interfaces with many fitness and activity trackers like Fitbit, StepFor will allow users to support causes of their choice while going about their daily activities.
Other winners include:
Best Business Plan - Gaudium
Outstanding Presentation Awards - Sage & Grace, AOE Medical
Marketing Awards - CARt (social impact track team), Gaudium
Most Successful Undergraduate Team - AOE Medical
Williamson Award - PreDxion