Seven U-M student entrepreneurs made their pitches to a panel of alumni entrepreneurs Feb. 5, with ideas as wide ranging as a device to help move hospital patients to an organic fish-feed company. In the end, U-M engineering junior Arianna Carley took home the top prize for her startup, AOE Med.
The competition, Wolverine Tank, was part of The New Face of Entrepreneurship with Michigan Alumni, an event that also included a TEDx-style talk by alumnus Mike Muse and a panel of alumni advising students on entrepreneurship. Sponsored by the Alumni Association, Wolverine Tank showcased startup products, companies, and apps. The panelists chose Carley based on the quality of her pitch and the strength of her company’s real-world application.
“AOE Med is a medical device company that focuses on solving the problems associated with patient escort,” Carley explained. “Our bariatric patient transfer device is designed to remove the risks to patients, nurses, and care facilities when moving patients between wheelchair and bed.”
Taking second place was Eric Katz, a junior in Ross School of Business, for Kulisha. “Kulisha is a fish-feed manufacturing processor,” Katz explained. “We make a fish feed out of insects to sell to small-scale farmers in Africa.”
And in third place was Densu Dixon, who has co-founded Fruit Fairies. “We created Fruit Fairies, a healthy food subscription service, because it was something that we were looking for and needed. And it turns out other students felt the same!” Dixon said. “Students can subscribe to have healthy food baskets delivered weekly.”
The competition included four other pitches:
• Aether: Graduate student Rachel Jaffe’s mobile application startup helps people find collaborators on campus, whether for a research project, a new company, or any other venture. “The goal is to break down departmental silos while giving nontraditional entrepreneurs access to opportunity,” Jaffe said.
• Community Resource Hotbed for the Aged: Kimberly Brittman said her social service gives “older adults the opportunity to receive help with navigating some of the complexities that come with getting older by providing them with a service coordinator or someone who would advocate for, explain, and link the client to applicable resources/services.”
• Neurable: Graduate student Ramses Alcaide’s company provides a headset that enables a disabled person to use thoughts to control software and devices. “Neurable, LLC, has created the first noninvasive, brain-computer interface,” he explained.”
• Mist Shopping: Co-founder and engineering sophomore Steven Schmatz described how his socially responsible app stands out from other online shopping forums: “It aims to make sustainable shopping easy and give a bigger voice to positive-impact brands.”