Ilitch School entrepreneurship students make their pitch for startup funds

What do you need to create a successful startup? Sure, a unique idea will get you started, but to build a sustainable business you also must understand the basics of accounting and financial information, how to explore funding options for new ventures and how to develop financial projections required in a business plan.

Students in the Mike Ilitch School of Business have an advantage, thanks to the school’s academic programs in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Courses such as Startup Funding and Profitability (EI 5200/7200) – taught by Ilitch School faculty member and tech entrepreneur Edward Kim – provide students with the opportunity to develop new venture ideas throughout the term and pitch them to a panel of guest judges at the end. The course’s overall objective is to develop students with entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial potential, and to achieve quantum increase in probability of securing capital and customer acquisition.

This semester’s cohort of students recently pitched their ideas in teams of two. Each group was given 8-10 minutes to present to judges Patrick Haig and Ian Sefferman of Assembler Labs, a Detroit-based startup studio, Dr. Joan Dunbar, Associate VP for Technology Commercialization WSU, and special guest WSU Provost Keith Whitfield. Ideas ranged from a student nonprofit that would deliver personal hygiene resources to recently resettled refugees to an augmented reality-based psychotherapy. Photos from the pitches can be found on the Ilitch School’s Flickr page.

In the past year, students from the previous cohort have:

  • Secured four startups with an estimated $1 million in funding
  • Placed first or second in pitch competitions, earning over $300,000 in winnings
  • Launched one student startup
  • Launched one new WSU technology spin-off

The Mike Ilitch School of Business offers both undergraduate and graduate certificates in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Open to all WSU students, these programs have been designed to provide the specialized knowledge, skills and experience required to develop, launch and grow a new venture. The school also offers an M.B.A. concentration in this field.

Students in each of these programs derive additional benefit from the newly launched Belinsky Entrepreneurial Learning Laboratory (BELL). Made possible by a $500,000 investment by alumnus Russell Belinsky and the Belinsky Family Trust, the BELL provides resources, insights, and expertise to help launch sustainable, investment-ready student startups and startups based on WSU intellectual property. Working in close coordination with instructors and students engaged in new entrepreneurship and innovation certificate programs, the BELL will help student founders develop commercialization pathways and attract additional funding aligned with business.