Wayne State University

Wayne State University student entrepreneurs pursue their first startup companies with summer program at TechTown

DETROIT – Talking to investors, planning a budget, learning about legal rights – these are just a few of the challenges six student entrepreneurs will tackle this summer as they pursue their business ventures at Wayne State University.

The students comprise four potential startup companies and are winners of the 2010 E2 Challenge, a competitively awarded summer entrepreneurial program that supports WSU students in their efforts to explore the potential of their own ventures and prepare for outside investment. The program is funded by the Michigan Initiative for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Wayne State University and is housed at TechTown, WSU’s research and technology park. The student groups that win the challenge receive financial support and a summer-long mentoring program to develop their business ideas.

Before winning a spot in the E2 program, biological sciences senior Melissa Hui’s venture, LifeCode Health, already was a two-time finalist in the Imagine Cup finals, the world’s premiere student technology competition hosted by Microsoft Corp. This year, after taking home the Achievement Award in the Mobile category – representing the best solution that utilizes mobile technology – the LifeCode Health team was looking to further develop their idea. “We received a lot of encouragement from Microsoft to pursue LifeCode Health as a full-time venture,” Hui said. “When we learned that the E2 Challenge teaches new entrepreneurs how to commercialize technology, it felt like the natural next step.”

"The goal of the E2 Challenge is to provide some of WSU's most promising young entrepreneurs with the real-world skills needed for turning their business idea into a reality,” said Eric Stief, commercialization principal and the E2 Challenge program administrator. “The skills gained during the summer mentorship provide a solid foundation for a career spent pursuing innovative new ventures, and they have the potential to contribute to the revitalization of the job market and diversification of the economy of Detroit and Michigan. I’ve been very impressed with the diverse set of creative business concepts our students come up with year after year."

The 2010 E2 Challenge winners include:

Bonfire Technology Group
Special education graduate student Sebrina Theon Shields is working to solve one of the biggest threats to students who use technology as an integrated part of the academic experience. According to a recent survey, about 60 percent of teens have experienced some form of online bullying. Yet students must continue using technology in order to be successful in a global economy. Shields’ Bonfire Technologies offers the chance to solve this problem by offering real-time intelligent monitoring and reporting methods to keep children safe when using computers and cell phones. In an age of technologically savvy children who may engage in cyberbullying, “sexting” and videochatting, Bonfire gives parents the opportunity to know what their children are sending and receiving while they continue to utilize the technology necessary for successful academic and professional careers.

Erisnet Technologies
Combining the power of face to face communication and social media, business administration graduate student Kenneth Siegner hopes to radically improve the experience of attending a trade show event with his company, Erisnet Technologies. Working to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an attendee’s experience, Siegner’s core technology will integrate Web 2.0 technologies with face to face networking using a new and inexpensive medium. The technology will enable people to personalize and take home their trade show experience.

Electronic arts junior Marta Marjorie Hrecznyj and industrial design senior Lejdi Malo hope their company, Growtown, will help bring alternative fuel to Detroit. The company aims to educate Detroiters on how vegetable waste oil, which can be collected from restaurants, can be used as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative fuel for vehicles. Growtown hopes to streamline this type of fuel collection and explore ways to form a local biofuel infrastructure. These efforts could transform the biofuel conversion industry and bring positive changes to Detroit communities.

LifeCode Health
LifeCode Health, whose members include Hui and economics senior Steve Markovitch, is working to combat cardiovascular disease – the world’s leading killer – and other chronic diseases through biometric monitoring and a data analysis platform designed for mobile phones. With the potential to track vital signs and profiles in urban, remote, rural and developing areas, the system will be able to create a virtual clinical environment anywhere in the world. Wireless monitoring, capturing and assessing patient medical data for diagnostics, data mining, and health analytics will allow for timely and effective medical care.

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information on research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.