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U-M Ross Business + Impact
U-M Ross Business + Impact
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Students Showcase Sustainability Ideas in +Impact Studio Course

Eight teams of graduate students from the University of Michigan presented their answers to the question of “how might we support entrepreneurs in Detroit in creating economically sustainable business models in green energy?” during Demo Day in April. The Demo Day was the culmination of the +Impact Studio Course BA670—hosted by the +Impact Studio and co-taught by Jerry Davis, the Gilbert and Ruth Whitaker Professor of Business Administration at Michigan Ross and the Business+Impact initiative faculty director; and Cat Johnson, managing director of Business+Impact.

“Enterprises for the green energy transition” can be a broad category, and could include themes like neighborhood solar microgrids, geothermal, high efficiency insulation, solar rooftop installation, or other enterprises aimed at uplifting their communities and enhancing neighborhood self-sufficiency. Through the course, students had the opportunity to enhance their research and design skills while collaborating across boundaries to tackle pressing business challenges.

Designed to be interdisciplinary, the course had 37 graduate students from seven different schools on campus, including Michigan Ross, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Information, and the School of Social Work, working together to develop their prototypes during the Winter ‘23 past semester.

The students used their research to create how-to guides for entrepreneurs seeking to “green” their businesses. This resource currently has three dozen How-To guides for easy download, printing, and sharing, and was created for new and existing enterprises creatively adopting green technologies.

All student teams made presentations for Demo Day in Michigan Ross’ Tauber Colloquium. Guest community experts included Loren Townes of the +Impact Studio, Moses Lee of the +Impact Studio, Charlene Zietsma of the School for the Environment and Sustainability, Jay Meeks of the LEAPS Program at UM, David Palmer of David Palmer Real Estate, Tanya Saldivar-Ali of Detroit Future Ops/AGI Construction, and Kimberly Hill Knott of Future Insight Consulting.

View photos from the course and Demo Day on Flickr

Learn about the +Impact Studio course projects this semester:

Grant Alper, MBA/MS
Haley Goodman, MBA
Kate Hoffmire, MSI
Yuqi Shi, MBA
Joss Woodhead, MBA

CLIPPY stands for Community Led Initiatives Powering Progressively (for) You. The goal is to reduce the workload and mental burden for business owners to make the green energy transition seamless. Ease of access and direct information reigns supreme. This vision drives our short and simple survey that points business owners to personalized recommendations for transitioning to green energy and the option of appointments to discuss choices with a green energy consultant.

Community Co-Pilots
Rebecca Epstein, MBA
Anna Norman, MBA/MS
Aki Sato, MSW
Madeline Sumida, MSW

Co-Pilot service for clean energy programs with local governments and community-based organizations. Our outreach specialists trained in participatory facilitation go to Detroit communities to educate on energy issues and pilot programs, help community members sign up for projects and fill out documents, and collect feedback from community members. This process enables easier access to clean energy options, and also serves to collect their perspectives and feedback to inform future green energy pilots, offerings and policies.

Detroit Green
Alyson Grine, MBA
Stella Han, MBA
Zach Nerod, MBA/MS
Prarthana Shevatekar, MSI
Rob Squiers, MBA/MS

Our mission is to provide equitable funding, resources, support, and access for green energy in a community-centered, personalized, and tangibly interactive way. We do this through low interest loans for the under-banked, physical space for those seeking guidance, a community presence for creating a sense of support, and local roots employing local Detroiters contributing to local neighborhoods.

D-Green Hub
Vinicius Briganti, MS/MBA
Maianh Phan, MBA
Brian Plamondon, MBA
Yi Zhang, MEng

In 2026, d-Green Hub would open a 15,000 sq. ft facility in the Detroit Metro Area powered by renewable energy and rent spaces out to small and medium sized business owners that utilize light industrial machinery to run their businesses. The power will be guaranteed to be clean, reliable, and constant. D-Green Hub will also provide resources on energy efficiency for all Hubbers.

Alexis Black, MBA
Jessica Drossner, MBA
Jeremiah Easton, MBA/MS
Bailey White, MBA
Kyle Xu, MSI

Small business owners in Detroit will be able to connect with an extensive local knowledge base to save costs on energy though our online community platform. Community ambassadors, local contractors and vendors, and SMB owners will create an efficient market for cost-saving energy technologies and best practices to benefit the Detroit community.

Connor Donnelly, MBA/MS
Chelsea Gaylord, MPP
Hillary McKenzi, MBA/MS
Jackson Pilutti, MBA

Our Mission is to bridge the green energy transition in Detroit and ensure every business has access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. Portable creates a rentable marketplace for portable green generators for small businesses that experience energy interruptions and unreliability.Portable will reduce the negative economic impacts to zero for Detroit small businesses that experience power unreliability by 2028.

Kate Connors, MBA
Himanshu Dixit, MBA
Charmaine Kunz, MSW
Linnet Leon, MBA/MS
Jiming Song, MSI

PowerUP utilizes AI to deliver a suite of services, including but not limited to:
● Inform users on the likelihood of power outages in their area using predictive analytics
● Request temporary power mobile assistance during a power outage in order to borrow tools like batteries, hotspots, and generators
● Help users understand how they might improve their business’ energy efficiency and provide tips for lowering energy bills and sourcing alternative energy options

Spark Up
Patrick Burden, MBA/MS
Daniela Caetano, MBA
Quinn Foussianes, MS
Sai Madhavi, MBA
Anna Seifert, MPP/MBA

Spark-Up brings innovative and personalized green energy solutions to key spaces of community gatherings in Detroit. For 6 weeks at a time, local venues in town host Spark-Up as a pop-up experience that showcases a transition to green energy taking place. Customers can experience the impact of cleaner energy solutions, get accurate information about the topic, connect with ambassadors, and establish a reliable network in their communities in order to better understand which energy solutions are best for them.