Advancing My Social Impact and Racial Equity Work Through the +Impact Studio

A Student Voices Post By Justin Woods, MBA/MSW ’22

I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who is pursuing a dual degree in business and social work, so the +Impact Studio was at the intersection of both my professional and personal goals.

When I completed the +Impact Studio course at the Ross School of Business, I left with a sound understanding of design thinking and experience doing interdisciplinary, action-based learning, all the while having a social impact as our North Star. After taking the course, I knew I wanted to stay connected with Michigan Ross Professor Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and the burgeoning +Impact Studio being cultivated at Ross. 

Read the full post here

Michigan Ross Announces New Student Loan Repayment Program For Full-Time MBA Grads Pursuing Social Impact Careers

by Bridget Vis

With growing interest in students looking to make an impact in their careers, the Ross School of Business has created a new program to provide educational loan repayment assistance to Full-Time MBA graduates who obtain jobs at nonprofit, education, and public sector organizations.

Through the Impact Advantage Program, alumni of the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Program who pursue a career in the public or nonprofit sectors — and earn below the median base salary of the most recent graduating class — can apply for student loan repayment assistance. For those graduates accepted into the program, Impact Advantage will cover a portion of their Ross-related loan obligations — $7,500 per year for five years — while they are employed full-time at a social impact organization.

“We continue to see more students, especially in the Full-Time MBA Program, who are interested in pursuing roles in the public or non-profit sectors, with the goal of making a positive difference in society after graduation,” said Francine Lafontaine, associate dean for Business+Impact and William Davidson Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at Michigan Ross. “In order to support our graduates who obtain jobs in the nonprofit and public sector, we are excited to announce the Impact Advantage Program as a new resource to help them repay their educational loans.”

Impact Advantage is the first loan repayment program specifically created for Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA alumni pursuing careers in social impact. 

For more than a decade, the business school has offered its graduates who go to work at nonprofit and public sector organizations the opportunity to receive need-based support through the Ross Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). Through this program, since 2010, Michigan Ross has awarded over $500,000 in repayment assistance to dozens of its alumni. LRAP will remain in place for graduates of other Ross degree programs, and full-time MBAs who graduated prior to May 2021, while Impact Advantage will be available to full-time MBA graduates beginning with those graduating in May 2021. 

Beyond the new Impact Advantage Program, Michigan Ross also offers students interested in social impact financial support through the Skip and Carrie Gordon Scholarship. Gordon Scholarships are annually awarded to three second-year Full-Time MBA students who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to addressing complex social problems.

This article is republished from the Michigan Ross website.

Sarita Nayyar

Sarita Nayyar (MBA 1987) is a member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum, who heads strategic partnerships with partners at Board and C-suite levels, for the purpose of improving the state of the world. She led the international expansion of the global Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) network. The network seeks to rapidly achieve global scope and scale in establishing a new operating system for international technology governance and cooperation. Prior to this work, Ms. Nayyar worked with Mondelez International in the Post Cereals Division. 

 

Describe the experiences that have most influenced your path to the WEF

After graduating from Ross business school I joined General Foods, a consumer packaged goods company where I practiced and learned marketing and business management skills. Through various mergers and acquisitions, General Foods became Kraft General Foods, then Kraft Foods, and more recently it split into Mondelez and Kraft Heinz. My 20-year career in business management was exciting and fulfilling. I worked on brands like General Foods International Coffees, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid and Capri Sun. I travelled to LA, Hawaii, and New Zealand for TV advertising commercial production. I was involved in new product launches, in pricing actions, and in integrating new businesses that were acquired. In my final years at Kraft Foods I was the General Manager of the Post Cereal Division where I had full business responsibility across product, manufacturing, marketing and people. Kraft Foods offered me world class marketing and general management experience.   

Sarita Nayyar with the University Consulting Club.

How have you leveraged your Ross experience in your career? 

My Ross experience was one where not only did I learn the MBA curriculum, I also learned the western world of business. The university experience was very special as I worked as a teaching assistant and as a part-time staff member in the marketing & Communication department of the Executive Education program. The entire time I also worked to cover my out of state tuition. There was the University Consulting Group, a student run consulting that provided consulting to local businesses in Ann Arbor. I joined this group and worked on many projects with other classmates. This group did quite well in getting consulting assignments. Everything I learned at Ross was key in helping me succeed in the business world.  

What led you to make the switch from Mondolez (Kraft Foods) to the WEF?

I get asked this question a lot. The answer is not very exciting. Actually, my career at Kraft Foods had reached a level where my next move required me to relocate from New York to Chicago where the headquarter was based. I wasn’t able to make the move to Chicago for personal reasons. I left Kraft and took a sabbatical year during which time I explored what I wanted to do for the rest of my professional life. A few general management opportunities came my way but I wasn’t excited about them. The World Economic Forum opportunity came to me from a head hunter and while initially I wasn’t sure if it was for me, the more I learned about the organization the more I was intrigued.

I made the switch and it turned out to be the best decision for me. I haven’t looked back ever since.

What is a major social impact issue you seek to address during your tenure? What is the most pressing issue that WEF is currently addressing?

At the World Economic Forum we work on many issues — climate change, biodiversity, natural resources, jobs, skilling, diversity & inclusion, technological advances, industry transformation, economic and social development — to name a few. Our core principle is anchored in “stakeholder capitalism” which suggests that business needs to think about all stakeholders (employees, citizens, communities, societies) and not just shareholders. With this principle in mind, we engage business in public-private collaboration.

Business organizations have tremendous capability and responsibility to ensure that they pursue sustainable and inclusive approaches in the ecosystem in which they operate. In the past, corporations would have Corporate Social Responsibility teams to make positive contributions separate from the core business. Even the Sustainability teams in many organizations are often run as separate units. Today, it is critical that environmental sustainability is built into the core of the business. How products are designed, what materials they are made from, the environmental impact of product consumption and/or disposal are all aspects that need to be part of business strategy.

Probably the most critical issue for this decade is climate change — as a collective the world needs to get to net zero emissions by 2050, and to make this target we need to reduce emissions in half by the end of this decade i.e. 2030.

It is great that Ross and the University of Michigan offer special masters programs that include sustainability curriculum. More business schools need to include sustainability courses as part of the MBA curriculum.

Do you have any advice for students aiming to make a career in the social sector? 

I started my career in the private sector and after more than two decades, moved into the social sector. I don’t think business schools offered programs for entering social sector then. I found my business school learnings and private sector experience quite helpful in approaching the issues in the social sector. The discipline of analysis, goal setting, outcome measurements are applicable in all sectors. 

Today, with special master level programs and the technological developments, starting careers in social sectors is a growing momentum. My advice would be that you follow your passion and use the discipline to develop solutions that can be scaled and amplified with speed.

March 2021 Newsletter

Impact Internship Funding – Round Two Application

Application Due:
Fri, Apr. 16 @ Noon ET


Each summer, Business+Impact awards competitive grants for summer internships to MBAs and BBA juniors in the Ross School of Business as well as MPP students in the Ford School of Public Policy. The application deadline is Friday, April 16 by Noon ET. Award decisions will be made based on consideration of the position and organization’s impact, and the quality of the application.

Additionally, the newly established Gordon Impact Entrepreneurship Fund provides support for BBA or MBA student internships with ventures or funders seeking to create societal impact. Students may be a founder or pursuing an internship with an impact-focused startup, growth phase venture, or venture capital firm. Qualifying organizations have a social and/or environmental mission and show demonstrated commitment to generating systemic solutions and achieving long-term societal impact. Students may apply through the Business+Impact Summer Internship Fund application process.

APPLY NOW


Parcel Health Wins the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge — Seigle Impact Track


We’re excited to share that the winner of the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track is Parcel Health – (Melinda Su En Lee (PharmD ’21) and Victor Le (PhD ’21)). Parcel Health is a company that aims to disrupt the current plastic prescription bottle industry by innovating a 100% curbside-recyclable solution. The Seigle Impact Track competition, co-sponsored by the Zell Lurie InstituteBusiness+Impact, and the Erb Institute, began in November with over 50 teams. Seven semi-finalists competed on Fri, Jan. 29 for the four finalist spots in the Seigle finals competition. Learn about all of the finalists:

  • CLOVO Brand – sustainable fashion tights
  • EQuity – training to advance racial justice
  • Sustainium – nuclear waste recycled for clean water

READ MORE


Michigan Impact Investing Symposium


Sat, Mar. 20 @ 10 am
Online

Business+Impact is co-sponsoring the Michigan Impact Investing Symposium (MIIS), an annual conference that allows attendees to learn more about the impact investing space from distinguished members of the community and gives participants an opportunity to explore investments that provide financial and social returns through an optional pitch competition. Speakers from Boston Consulting Group, Citi Bank, Total Impact Capital, Orrick, and more will speak on the theme of Restorative Investing.

REGISTER HERE


SOCIAL ENTERPRISE SPOTLIGHT

Reclaiming the Media Narrative for Arab and Muslim Americans

Business+Impact is introducing a new series on U-M alumni who have created social enterprises and are building their businesses after graduation. For our inaugural spotlight, we are shining the light on Thawra, a multimedia content provider for the Arab and Muslim communities whose work has been recognized by Poets & Quants and ABC’s Nightline.

Last year, in the Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track, Yasmeen Kadouh (U-M Dearborn BA ’17) and Rima Fadlallah (Ross MBA ’20) introduced their business to the world as For Dearborn, featuring the subbrand Dearborn Girl, and they became the runner up in the track competition. Their business has kept the Dearborn Girl division and added several others, but their purpose remains the same: to create a space for Arab and/or Muslim Americans (AMAs) to self-actualize and thrive through digital media, programming, fashion and philanthropy.

We reached out to Ms. Kadouh and Ms.Fadlallah for an update, and you can learn about how you can support their work and access membership, courses, workshops, and events, merchandise, and more!

READ MORE

DNEP Accounting Consulting Internship


Apply by
Thurs, Apr. 1

DNEP Free Accounting is seeking a student consultant for the summer of 2021 with possible extension into the 2021-2022 academic year. In this position,
the student will work closely with entrepreneurs and small business owners (virtually) in Detroit, providing assistance in areas of accounting, COVID relief, and other business administration.

Application Here

 


 

How Nonprofit Organizations Are Innovating and Adapting Through a Time of Crisis

Each year, the University of Michigan Board Fellowship Program hosts a public forum in the form of a panel discussion with representatives from local nonprofit organizations. On Tues, Feb. 23, the forum addressed how nonprofits have been pivoting to address COVID-19 challenges and the light shone on inequities in society.

Watch Here

 

Ross Event Highlights:


Ross Alumni: Ten Years After the Affordable Care Act: Success and Failures
Thurs, Mar. 18 @ 1 pm ET
Online


ZLI: Five Ideas Workshop
Fri, Mar. 19 @ 10 am – Noon ET
Online


Ross B&S: Overcoming Systemic Barriers to Entrepreneurship
Fri, Mar. 26 @ Noon ET
Online


PTMBA: Women, the Workforce, and the MBA
Wed, Mar. 31 @ 8 pm ET
Online



A Searchable Platform for All Things Impact at Ross and Across Campus


The Business+Impact Gateway provides you with a single location for all things impact. Here you’ll find all of the activities, people and key partners working to use their learning to make a real impact in the world. 

IMPACT GATEWAY

At the University:

 

STUDENT SUSTAINABILITY COALITION

Campus Sustainability Positions in the Fall

Apply by
Sun, Mar. 21 @ 11:59 pm

Are you a U-M Ann Arbor student who is passionate about campus sustainability? Apply to join the Student Sustainability Coalition (SSC), a group of student leaders working to create a mutually defined common agenda and shared vision that unifies campus-wide student sustainability efforts! There are multiple positions available. All applicants must be U-M Ann Arbor undergraduate or graduate students.

Apply Here

 

 


PROBLEM SOLVING INITIATIVE

Fall Courses Registration

Non-Law Graduate and Professional Students Register by Tues, Mar. 30

Law Students Register by Wed, Apr. 7

The Law School’s Problem Solving Initiative classes are open to all U-M graduate and professional students. Students in PSI classes lend their expertise and skills to a multidisciplinary team, develop creative problem solving tools, conduct research on, and engage in, advancing solutions to real-world challenges.  Courses in Fall 2021 include:

Register Here


LSA

Semester in Detroit

Application Deadline
Wed, Mar. 31

The fall program is open to students from UM-Ann Arbor, UM-Dearborn, and Grand Valley State University. Students are in classes for 8-11 hours per week (fall students can choose between one or both SiD electives) and intern for 16 hours per week. You can earn up to 18 credits toward your U-M degree and intern with community-based organizations.

More Info


CEW+

Scholarships Available for 2021-22 Academic Year

Application Deadline
Wed, Apr. 1

The Center for the Education of Women Scholarship Program, which today serves women and underserved students, was established in 1970 to honor the academic performance and potential of women whose education has been interrupted and to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of the admission of women to the University of Michigan.

More Info on CEW+ Scholarships

 

 


In the Impact Community:

 

Job Opportunities with Prime Coalition


Apply by March 22

Prime Coalition partners with mission-aligned investors to support extraordinary companies that combat climate change, have a high likelihood of achieving commercial success, and are in need of financial support to scale. Prime spent its first 6 years building a world class investment team, and now they have the privilege of expanding their nonprofit program team. Two job opportunities have opened up – applications are due 3/22.

  • Director of Impact – Cambridge, MA – elevating Prime’s focus on impact measurement and management
  • Partnerships Associate – San Fran, CA – stewarding relationships w courageous philanthropic partners

Public Allies


Apply Now

Public Allies Metro Detroit is a program of the U of M-Dearborn, and a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. The program is made possible through funding of the Corporation for National and the Community Service and Michigan Community Service Commission. Apply now for fall opportunities.

Application info


American Express NGen Fellows Program


Application Deadline: Sun, Mar. 21

The American Express NGen Fellows program, part of the American Express Leadership Academy, offers a transformative opportunity for changemakers, age 40 and under, to strengthen their leadership capacity, hone their change-making skills, and build connections with some of the social sector’s most influential leaders. Every year the NGen Fellows program selects 12 individuals to participate in a nine-month leadership development program.

Application info


The Henry Ford to Host Social Venture Challenge

Online Info Sessions:
Thurs, Mar. 18 & 25 @ 6:30 pm


Application Deadline: Thurs, Mar. 25
Competition: Apr. 8-9

Are you an undergraduate student looking to make an impact in your community today? Apply for the Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge (SVC)!  The Resolution Project is partnering with Henry Ford College on April 8-9th, 2021 to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to virtually pitch their ideas for change for the chance to win a Resolution Fellowship.  Pitch your idea and join the Resolution Fellow community of more than 500 Fellows in 81 countries.  Check out this video to see what happened in the 2020 SVC at Henry Ford College.

More info


Halcyon Incubator Fall 2021 Fellowship Application


Application Deadline
Fri, Apr. 9

The application to join Halcyon Incubator’s 14th Cohort next fall is now open! Fellows receive five months rent-free housing in D.C., a $10,000 stipend, and access to our community of social entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors, investors, and supporters.

Application info


All images in this newsletter are Pre-COVID.

Michigan Business Challenge Seigle Impact Track Winner Announced

Ann Arbor, February 26, 2021 – The winner of the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track is Parcel Health (click to learn more) – (Melinda Su En Lee (PharmD ’21) and Victor Le (PhD ’21)) a company that aims to disrupt the current plastic prescription bottle industry by innovating a 100% curbside-recyclable solution. The Seigle Impact Track competition, co-sponsored by the Zell Lurie InstituteBusiness+Impact, and the Erb Institute, began in November with over 50 teams. Eight semi-finalists competed on February 8 for the four finalist spots in the Seigle finals competition.

Other finalists included:

CLOVO Brand (click to learn more) – CLOVO Brand is a sustainable fashion company that produces the most comfortable and natural sheer tights using Tencel and a functional design to eliminate sagging, discomfort, and wardrobe malfunctions. Megan Martis (MS ’21)

EQuity (click to learn more) – EQuity is a learning and development venture that provides digital training and coaching to help clients advance racial justice by developing emotional intelligence. Justin Woods (MBA/MSW ’21)

Sustainium (click to learn more) –  Sustainium’s technology collects heat generated by spent nuclear fuel, a form of nuclear waste, and uses this heat to dry wastewater sludge. Jacob Ladd (JD’23), Luyao Li (MS’21), Anya Shapiro (MS/MBA’22), Aniket Yadav (MS’21)

Parcel Health received $15,000 for first place in the Seigle Impact Track, $2,000 for the Michigan Investment Challenge Prize, and $5,000 for the One Magnify Best in Business Award at MBC awards ceremony.  CLOVO Brand was the second place winner of the Seigle Impact Track, and received $7,500. EQuity won the $100 third prize in the Elevator Pitch competition. All participants in the Seigle Impact Track finals received at least $1750 for pitching in the finals. LeaseMagnets wont the Innovation Track, while EpiSLS won the Invention Track.

In Parcel Health’s presentation, they drew attention to the fact that prescription bottles currently cause 100,000 tons of plastic waste a year. Their Phill Box is a water resistant, recyclable, child resistant prescription container that has met all the requirements of prescription medication packaging. PH is looking for entree into urban pharmacies before moving into independent and large chain pharmacies. The team is made up of Melinda Su En Lee (PharmD ’21) and Victor Le (PhD ’21), as well as Mallory Barrett, Alex Barrette, and Tyler Wright.  Corporate advisors include Melinda Lin Lee, James Stevenson of Omnicell, and Jared Crooks of Schmidt Futures.

An expert judging panel of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial specialists were brought on by Zell Lurie Institute for the Michigan Business Challenge. The Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition, of which the Seigle Impact Track is a subset focused on entrepreneurial student ventures focused on social  and/or environmental impact.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. 

Social Enterprise Spotlight: Thawra

Business+Impact is introducing a new series on U-M alumni who have created social enterprises and continue the work of entrepreneurship after graduation. For our inaugural spotlight, we are shining the light on Thawra, a multimedia content provider for the Arab and Muslim communities.
Last year, in the Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track, Yasmeen Kadouh (U-M Dearborn BA ’17) and Rima Fadlallah (Ross MBA ’20) introduced their business to the world as For Dearborn, featuring the subbrand Dearborn Girl, and they became the runner up in the track competition. Their business has kept the Dearborn Girl division and added several others, but their purpose remains the same: to create a space for Arab and/or Muslim Americans (AAMs) to self-actualize and thrive through digital media, programming, fashion and philanthropy.
This work has been noticed and picked up by Poets and Quants and ABC’s Nightline. We reached out to Ms. Kadouh and Ms. Fadlallah for an update.

Describe your business.

Thawra Network produces trusted multimedia content for Arabs & Muslims. We aspire to be our communities’ choice for media on Arabs or Muslims.

How did you come to create it?  What was the impetus?

Before we officially started Thawra, we were the hosts of the Dearborn Girl podcast, highlighting the stories of Arab or Muslim women in the nation’s largest concentration of Arabs. We have always wanted to showcase the complexity and wisdom in our narratives, and as proud daughters of Dearborn, we figured we would start in our own backyard. 

Dearborn Girl taught us that our hyper local stories were global: we are currently streaming in over 85 countries! Our DMs, email inboxes, and trips to the local grocer are still filled with people telling us about their favorite episode, how much they loved our live events, or ideas they have for our next merch design. This community buy-in and thirst for spaces that affirm their identities (in a world that is constantly vilifying them) inspired us to take this local idea and run with it.

After the tragic Beirut blast in August 2020, we found ourselves frantically checking family WhatsApp group chats or social media for answers, and that’s when we truly realized the severity of our distrust of mainstream media. Put simply, for Arabs and Muslims, “fake news” and “tired tropes” have been our reality for decades. Even in this digital age, we find ourselves struggling to find answers about issues or stories that uniquely impact us, and eventually having to settle for “good enough.” We founded Thawra because we believe it’s time our communities have places they can trust, and content that actually sees them. 

How have you used what you learned at U-M Dearborn, Ross and Michigan Business Challenge experience since leaving U-M?

We are so privileged and grateful to have world class institutions just a short drive away from our community in Dearborn, and we’ve been intentional about drawing wisdom from both sources.

By day, we were going through pitch practice at Ross’ Zell Lurie Institute, and by night we were hosting community coffee chats at Dearborn’s beloved Qahwah House. We held focus groups with students at U-M Dearborn and Dearborn Public Schools, and consulted with student groups at Ross through Lindy Greer’s Psychology of Start-Up Teams course. One of our favorite moments was meeting a fellow Dearborn Girl and Ross student while sitting in on Marcus Collins’ Social Media Marketing course, and inviting her to be on our podcast only a week later. Talk about the best of both worlds.

You are, in a sense “influencers” and “encouragers”.  What are the biggest entrepreneurial hurdles for such a role?

Representation, ironically. Our platform is for Arab Muslims, non-Arab Muslims, and non-Muslim Arabs. Cultivating a public facing platform that is representative of the diversity that exists within our communities is so important, and it can also be pretty challenging to navigate. We think it’s important to call that out, but the stakes are way too high to let that be an excuse. 

We have conversations every day about how to reflect this diversity in everything from our hiring decisions to our content creation. Arab identities and Muslim identities are constantly conflated in the media, but the reality is, most Arabs in America are not Muslim, and the vast majority of Muslims are non-Arab. While our founding team happens to hold both identities, we are mindful of the fact that we will need to recruit people who reflect the diversity of our national and global communities.

This may seem obvious, but in what ways does social impact function as a core missional goal in Thawra/DG?

We are never not talking about social impact. Our values are bravery, shared liberation, truth-telling, independence and growth.

Thawra at its core is about inspiring our communities to action. We want to be the aggregators and creators of content that motivates people to self advocate socially and politically. We want young people who grow up consuming our content to believe that their voices can drive real change. 

Most importantly, we want to inject our audience with a commitment to collective liberation, or the notion that all of our struggles are intimately intertwined, that we all suffer under systems of oppression. In 10-15 years, we want the media landscape to look radically different for communities of color because Thawra exists.

What are the core elements of your business, and what new ideas are you looking toward, especially in light of coronavirus?

Thawra currently has four active brands: (1) The Dearborn Girl podcast, highlighting the stories of Arab &/or Muslim woman from Dearborn, the world’s largest concentration of Arabs outside of the Middle East; (2) Missing Pages, an anonymous submissions blog and podcast series where we discuss some of our community’s most harmful taboos; (3) The Typical Arab TikTok Page, where our content creators celebrate Arab culture through funny videos, and lastly, (4) the Al-Nazar email series, where we will provide trusted news and culture content to a rapidly growing community of Arabs and Muslims across the nation (starting this Spring). You can (and should) subscribe here to get ready for our Spring launch. 

What advice do you have for students who wish to start their own businesses while still students?

Rima: Fast forward to the day you walk across the stage. What are you most proud of yourself for? When I went through these visualization activities early on during my first year at Ross, I kept imagining myself feeling proud of my ability to balance school, part-time work and leaving my local community with something that would outlast me. I didn’t know what that last part looked like or meant, and I didn’t even know I wanted to start a business that would ultimately impact national Arab or Muslim communities greatly, I just knew I had a deep yearning to solve a specific problem, so I let myself lean into the problem solving/design thinking process. 

From there, Ross became a training ground/sandbox of sorts. Because I had my eyes set on a vision – vague as it was – all of my courses, resources, conversations with peers on campus or back home served to help me solve that problem.

How can the people who are reading this support your work?

People can support us by connecting us to anyone who can be a potential mentor or advisor, and by subscribing to Al Nazar (launching Spring ’21).

Sustainium is a Finalist in the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track

One of the finalists for The Seigle Impact Track finals that will take place on February 26, 2021 is Sustainium. Sustainium harnesses heat from spent nuclear fuel to dry wastewater sludge and turn it into a sustainable biomass like fertilizer or fuel. In the process, we turn two negatives into a positive through an innovative circular solution. Jacob Ladd (MS’20, JD’23), Luyao Li (MS’21), Anya Shapiro (MBA/MS ’22), Aniket Yadav (MS’21)

Contact Information:
www.sustainiumsolutions.com

What was the origin of your venture?
We won the Nuclear Waste Grand Challenge to re-imagine the future of nuclear waste. The origin was that we wanted to design a circular solution that harnesses two waste sources (nuclear waste and sewage sludge) to turn them into a profitable and sustainable biomass like fertilizer or fuel. We also wanted to de-risk nuclear energy and the waste it produces in order to meet a decarbonized future. Finally, we wanted to find a way to prevent dried wastewater sludge from ending up in a landfill and releasing methane.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of launching your venture?
Improving public perception of the nuclear energy industry (a critical part of the clean energy transition) and providing a reliable, low-cost, and clean energy source to dry wastewater sludge and divert it from ending up in a landfill.

How did you form your team?
We formed through a competition!

How has participation in MBC helped move your venture forward?
MBC has helped us solidify our business model and double down on how we will provide a positive impact beyond sustainability and profitability- considering critical factors like environmental justice and community welfare.

What has been your biggest takeaway from the MBC experience (so far)?
Impact and profitability can be synonymous.

What are your plans following MBC? How would prize money help your venture?
We will use the funds to build our first prototype of the technology and use it to pitch a pilot with several large utility companies in the Midwest. 

What advice do you have for other student entrepreneurs?
Form an interdisciplinary team, don’t be afraid of solving problems traditionally deemed “unsolvable”, and ask yourself the questions, “if not me, who?” “if not now, when?”

Public Tools for Empowerment: Designing for Trust and Transparency

Read full article in +Impact Studio Medium blog

Listen to +Impact Studio Podcast with Ian and Eric

PODCAST: Social Sector Tools – Futurist Thinking for Uncertain Times

In this episode of Social Impact Design for Business, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks of Michigan Ross’ +Impact Studio interviews Jenn Holk, Strategy Manager at the Monitor Institute at Deloitte and Apoorva Kanneganti (MBA ’19), Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting.–both working with social impact-focused organizations. In order to help social sector leaders confront the COVID-19 challenge, the Monitor Institute by Deloitte developed a report with tools for planning in these uncertain times.

 

Parcel Health is a Finalist in the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track

One of the finalists for The Seigle Impact Track finals that will take place on February 26, 2021 is Parcel Health. Parcel Health Inc. creates global impact through sustainable healthcare product innovation. Our first product aims to disrupt the current plastic prescription bottle industry by innovating a 100% curbside-recyclable solution. Melinda Su-En Lee (PharmD’21), Victor Le (PhD’21)

Contact Information:
www.parcelhealth.co

What was the origin of your venture?
This opportunity was discovered when I (Melinda) was completing my pharmacy internship at a local pharmacy. I overheard a pharmacy technician complaining about numerous patients that have come in demanding for the pharmacy to stop using plastic bottles. This piqued my interest because I did not realize it bothered patients — it bothered me as a student behind the counter throwing away hundreds of bottles a day from patients who do not pick up their medications. This happened around the same time China began refusing plastic waste from the United States, diverting many of the trash to Southeast Asia. I’m an immigrant from Malaysia and my family still lives there. I hated the idea of more American waste being exported to sit in my parent’s backyard. I decided to test the viability of this idea at OptiMize, another competition hosted at University of Michigan, through the program, I was able to validate the idea and build a team.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of launching your venture?
I hope it provides an opportunity to healthcare systems to be environmentally sustainable. Every other industry have been disrupted by green technology, such as the automotive and consumer-goods industry, but healthcare has largely been untouched by green technology. I hope it increases the bar for healthcare systems. We need to all work together to address America’s waste management problem that disproportionately impacts developing countries.

How did you form your team?
I connected with my cofounder through LinkedIn. I met Victor at the UM Campus Challenge for COVID-19 and we got along great at the time. He has such an upbeat attitude and sharp wit, I knew I had to include him on our team.

How has participation in MBC helped move your venture forward?
We have been challenged to think about financial aspects of our business, which we had not spend much time on before. MBC created a safe space for us to explore and research this aspect of our business, along with expert advice and guidance from the faculty at Zell Lurie Institute. The MBC judges are very sharp and ask good questions, giving us the opportunity to hone on our answering skills. Experiencing this has increased our confidence in speaking about our business venture to other potential clients and investors.

What has been your biggest takeaway from the MBC experience (so far)?
The business plan is never done! There is always more to do to improve it as we learn more about our market and our competition.

What are your plans following MBC? How would prize money help your venture?
We plan to purchase a design software for our designer so we can improve on our drawings to our manufacturer. The prize money will also help us pay for third-party certifications to ensure it is child-resistant and yet easy-to-use by patients with arthritis.

What advice do you have for other student entrepreneurs?
As a student, field for as much advice as you can from potential customers and also faculty at University of Michigan. Be open and welcoming to critical feedback because these are most valuable to testing the viability of your business idea. It’s also always much better to get bad criticism at the beginning and adjust your business venture accordingly, than to spend years on something only to hear it from a potential investor. Free advice from experts and customers are valuable catalysts to any student business venture.