Entrepreneurially minded University students are preparing to compete for a new title: “The Startup.”
Organized by the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and modeled after NBC’s reality show “The Voice,” the program, in its first year, encourages students to share their business ideas in an environment designed to simulate the real-world stakes faced by entrepreneurs.
Similar to what contestants endure on “The Voice,” selected applicants will participate in a casting call, where they will present their business proposal and describe what “The Startup” can do for their personal and professional development.
If selected, students will compete in a first round to secure a spot on one of the competition’s four mentor-led teams. As on “The Voice,” the mentors select students for their team who they believe have the most potential.
During three additional rounds, teams and mentors work closely to prepare for the next challenge and to advance their team’s proposal. Attendees at “Entrepreneurship Hour,” an class held through the CFE every Friday, will vote to eliminate a team after every round. The final remaining team will be crowned “The Startup.”
Sarah Bachleda, communication and marketing maven for the CFE, said in addition to working closely with team mentors, students will also gain increased operating capital as they make it past each round. She added that the winning team will not only win the title “The Startup,” but also earn a grand prize to continue building their business.
“The rounds will take place live in front of our Entrepreneurship Hour students, giving these teams a ton of visibility as well,” she said. “It will take place semester-long, providing an engaging structure and space to truly advance the startups.”
Amy Cell, vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will serve as a team mentor for the competition. Cell said “The Startup” is a great opportunity to explore a business idea in a fun, accelerated way.
“I’ve been involved with CFE since the beginning, and I’m continually amazed with the energy, creativity and passion of the programs that they put together,” Cell said. “As an economic developer for the state of Michigan, I understand the critical importance of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Cell said the program will not only serve as a learning experience for students, but also for the mentors involved.
“I hope to find people that I can follow and support for years to come,” she said. “I also hope to find startups that can start having a near-term impact on Michigan.”
Applications to participate in the program are due Friday.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article described Entrepreneurship Hour as an event. The program is a class listed as ENTR 407.