A Record Number of MBAs Take Part in Ross Open Road

This Spring, six teams of Michigan Ross MBAs spent a month helping social entrepreneurs across the United States with the business challenges they face. These intrepid travelers of Open Road at Ross – Powered by Ford were focused on everything from fitness to inclusive spaces, to AAPI restaurateurs. Business+Impact and the Zell Lurie Institute are proud to partner on this program, funded by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The program is an action-based social entrepreneurship program developed by Ross students for Ross students. Each team spent several weeks around the month of May visiting a new social enterprise every week–meeting business owners on the weekend, analyzing their business during the week, and presenting findings and solutions by Friday.

The program, in its sixth year, is popular at Michigan Ross, and is designed to equip social entrepreneurs who are making a positive social impact in their communities with the business acumen needed to thrive.

Three women of various ethnicities from team Community Collective, posed outside.

Team Community Collective (Amanda Hsieh, Marissa Cooper, Kat Nguyen, Hemangani Pande) were a team of MBA2s that traveled throughout the Midwest and the South to work alongside social enterprises. The team chose businesses that were creating a positive impact in their community, from hiring women impacted by domestic violence to paying employees well above minimum wage to providing financial counseling to their staff, among other things. The team learned not only from the entrepreneurs but from their employees– how complex jewelry-making is, how a bakery is run, and many other intangible skills. 

High points included staying in the German Village in Columbus and working from different coffee shops in Nashville. The team felt that they started as mostly strangers, but learned so much about each other throughout the month. It was an opportunity to get out of their collective comfort zone, hone in on their people skills and make a positive impact.

Read posts about Community Collective’s experiences:


 Two men and two women of various ethnicities from team Eats Meets West, posed outside.

 

Team Eats Meets West (Ashley Tran, Patrick Nguyen Burden, Sam Teng, Gic-Owens Fiestan) was a team of MBA1s that began by recognizing that so much of their experiences growing up revolved around a dinner table. Further recognizing that even today, they found themselves tied to both the foods they make and the people they share meals with, Eats Meets West decided to give back to the AAPI community.  Over the course of May (AAPI Heritage Month) they had the opportunity to engage with entrepreneurs across the farming, grocery retail, restaurant, and the CPG space to understand the challenges faced by Asian American business owners and how their own identities have influenced their work.

As MBA dual-degree students across environment and sustainability, medicine, education, and design, they were excited to see how their unique perspectives shaped recommendations and approaches to problems.

Read posts about Eats Meets West’s experiences:


Two men and two women of various ethnicities from team Geek Squad, posed in a van.

Team Geek Squad (Joss Woodhead, Summer Abiad, Messeret Kebede, Chisom Uche) was a team of MBA1s that decided they wanted to work with Black-owned social enterprises, nonprofits, or small businesses in the midwest. Their road trip took them from Columbus to Nashville to St. Louis, and back home to Detroit.  Each week theywould dive right into the organization and figure out a short project where they could make an impact in a week’s worth of time. After interviews, tours, reading through existing documents, and often harnessing the power of the Post-it® working session they helped create pricing strategies, data collection strategies, marketing plans, grant applications, and any other small things to help the organizations. 

Read posts about the Geek Squad’s experiences:


Two men and two women of various ethnicities from team Hidden JEMMs, posed outside.

Team Hidden JEMMS (Jaume Boneta Seco, Eric Hopfenbeck, Mallory Leibowitz, Megha Savla) was a team of MBA2s focused on supporting community-building organizations in the food and beverage space. They began in Portland, Oregon working alongside Jenny Nguyen, Founder and Owner of The Sports Bra, the first and only sports bar in America dedicated exclusively to showing women’s sports — she had only been open for five weeks! Then, they ventured north to Seattle, where they worked alongside Justin Smith, Interim Executive Director of Catalyst Kitchens, a nonprofit serving a network of nonprofits leading a movement to end joblessness through food service job training & social enterprise.

The high point of our experience was by far getting to see direct impact of the skills they had learned through our MBA experience. They felt confident  leveraging the knowledge from the past two years to help both Jenny and Justin accomplish more. Throughout the whole experience, they took away new project management skills, including how to be flexible to the needs of a partner; and a new understanding of how to create impact from both the nonprofit and for-profit perspective.

Read posts about Hidden JEMMs’ experiences:


Four black women from team Real Execs of Ross, posed outside.

Team Real Execs of Ross (Patrice Drummond, Shayon Donaldson, Whitney Pollard) was a team of MBA2s that focused on the entrepreneurial world of Detroit, MI.  They worked with House of Pure Vin, a Detroit-owned winery that partnered with Claudia Tyagi, 1 of 3 Master Sommeliers in the state of Michigan, to curate their collection.

 


 

Team SEEL the Deal (Eden Berdugo, Linnet Leon, Esther Chen, Sai Madhavi Antharam) was a team of MBA1s that headed south to support small businesses in the U.S.  They started in Ann Arbor, with BYOC Co., a sustainable retail shop that encourages waste reduction. Then they gradually made their way down to Nashville, where they supported Voces de Nashville, a women owned co-op that both teaches native speakers to teach Spanish. After Nashville, they stopped in Birmingham, Alabama to work with Naughty but Nice Kettle Corn Company, and lastly Vivify, a boutique fitness studio in New Orleans. During the 4 weeks, we worked on initiatives such as designing a loyalty program, making recommendations on store and website customer experiences, financial models and pitch decks, designing a tiered catering experience, and defined brand vision. A high point was visiting the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Read posts about SEEL the Deal’s experiences:

See all the action in our photo albums

Professional and personal photos from each team’s journey are available in our Flickr albums.

Twelve MBAs Hit the Open Road

Three teams of four MBAs each are preparing to embark on road trips across America in May. They’re part of Open Road at Ross – Powered by Ford, an action-based social entrepreneurship program developed by Ross students for Ross students. Each team will spend the month of May visiting a new social enterprise every week–meeting business owners on the weekend, analyzing their business during the week, and presenting findings and solutions by Friday.

The program, in its fourth year, is is popular at Ross, and recently got support from the Ford Motor Company This student-run program is co-sponsored by Business+Impact and is designed to equip social entrepreneurs who are making a positive social impact in their communities with the business acumen needed to thrive.

Keep an eye on this website and on the Open Road at Ross website for further details on routes and enterprises with which they will work.

Team LOVA (Katerina Athanasiou, Minsoo Lyo, Catherine O’Donnell, and Hana Viswanathan) look forward to partnering with entrepreneurs working to build resources and uplift people throughout the Appalachian region. We want to support places and spaces that are oftentimes neglected by public attention, yet face urgent challenges–from the opioid epidemic to environmental impacts of coal mining. They’re excited to bring to bear their depth of experience across many industries and functions to help entrepreneur partners manage and grow their businesses–while learning a great deal from them in the process. The team will visit Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (Detroit), Appalachian Headwaters (Lewisburg, WV),  Black Sheep Bakery at Hemphill Community Center (Neon, KY), and Tech Goes Home (Chatanooga, TN).


 

Team MPower (Brooke Burton, Chloe Hull, Gautam Kandlikar, and Fernando Palhares) bring backgrounds in Finance, Technology, Strategy, and Social Impact, to small businesses that are the dynamic engines of growth and opportunity. This team will begin at Klassic Mobile Gardens (Detroit), The Chattery (Chattanooga, TN), The Root Cafe (Little Rock, AR), and T-Town Tacos (Tulsa, OK).

Read blog posts about Team MPower’s experiences:


Team RAIK (Ritesh Kumar, Allie Morbitzer, Kathy Tian, and Ivy Wei) are moved by their interest in helping immigrant-owned businesses become successful in a competitive business arena. They will visit Bandhu Gardens (Detroit), Red Calaca Studio (Charlotte, NC), Wake up Atlanta (Atlanta, GA) and Tulsa Newcomer Services (Tulsa, OK).

Track the teams on Instagram by searching #RossOpenRoad

See all the action in our photo album

Professional and personal photos from each team’s journey are available in our Flickr album.

See photos »

Twelve MBAs prepare to Hit the Open Road

Meet the Teams that Will Head out on Ross Open Road

Three teams of four MBAs each are preparing to embark on road trips across America in May 2018. They’re part of Ross Open Road, an action-based social entrepreneurship program developed by Ross students. Each team will spend the month of May visiting a new social enterprise every week–meeting business owners on the weekend, analyzing their business during the week, and presenting findings and solutions by Friday.

The program, in its third year, is showing steadily increasing popularity at Ross, going from two teams to three last year, and returning with three teams again this year. This student-run program is co-sponsored by the Business+Impact, Zell Lurie Institute, Sanger Leadership Center, the Erb Institute and the Ross MBA Program Office. The program is designed to “give small business owners extra hands in solving complex challenges, and to help students gain real-world experience understanding the various issues social ventures face.”

Keep an eye on this website and on the Ross Open Road website for further details on routes and enterprises with which they will work.

Team ACAI (From Top to Bottom): Ian Stackhouse-Kaelble, Apoorva Kanneganti, Alexis Morath, & Courtney Poopat

Team ACAI (Apoorva Kanneganti, Courtney Poopat, Alexis Morath, Ian Stackhouse-Kaelble) look forward to applying their past experiences working across the healthcare, technology, financial services, and education sectors to help create an impact on the road this summer.  The team will visit Michigan Good Food Fund (Detroit), Us Food Market (Detroit), Mindshift (Fargo, ND), Lake Missoula Tea Company (Missoula, MT), and Homes First (Lacey, WA)

Team MACK (From left to right): Mark Green, Allison Bernstein, Kashay Sanders & Christopher Owen.

Team MACK (Mark Green, Allison Bernstein, Christopher Owen, and Kashay Sanders) is moved by a passion for social justice and wants to build upon  the important role small businesses play in the future of the U.S economy.  They will visit Lil Brilliant Mindz (Detroit, MI), Green Opportunities (Asheville, NC), JaWanda’s Sweet Potato Pies (Birmingham, AL), and Zuni Learning Tree (Conway, AR).

Team THIS (From left to right) Tsering Sherpa, Stephanie Dollan, Jinny Han, and Thai Ha-Ngoc

Team THIS (Stephanie Dolan, Thai Ha-Ngoc, Jinny Han, and Tsering Sherpa) bring a wide range of experiences to the table, from investment banking and operations to publishing and education.  They will visit Detroit Peppers (Detroit, MI), Compost Crusader (Milwaukee, WI), Learn Create Build (Sioux Falls, SD), Western Sustainability Exchange (Bozeman, MT), and another enterprise to be determined.

Track the teams on Instagram by searching #RossOpenRoad