Agenda – Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016


The 2016 Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium (#UES2016) will convene entrepreneurs and thought leaders in business, academia, community organizations, and government in order to promote and facilitate business innovation that improves the quality of life in urban communities. The symposium will be held in Flint, Michigan as a call to action for entrepreneurs to focus on innovative business solutions to the challenges facing that historic city, the cradle of the automobile industry. #UES2016 will focus the best minds in the city, region, and country on applying entrepreneurial innovation to revitalize Flint and similar communities.


#UES2016 will engage the Flint community broadly and deeply in several ways. We will actively engage regular citizens to determine specific problems and potential solutions that can be addressed by entrepreneurial innovation. We will hold business plan challenge competitions that will address two pressing concerns facing Flint residents: infrastructure improvement and employment opportunities. We will present keynote speakers who can shed light on important urban revitalization issues while inspiring the community to take action. We will convene presentations and problem-solving discussions on several key topics. We will produce and deliver informative seminars that will make aspiring entrepreneurs more effective in identifying, planning, and executing an urban-focused business opportunity.


#UES2016 will provide concrete information, resources, and connections that will enable actual and aspiring entrepreneurs to create scalable, profit-making businesses that address important urban community needs. Networking sessions will allow participants to efficiently and effectively forge connections to important people and resources. Attendees will include entrepreneurs, students, community leaders, business leaders, government representatives, community service organization members, and more. The event will inform, inspire, and empower attendees, and will yield a set of findings that will guide further economic development and revitalization.

Note: Absolutely SAFE WATER and absolutely FREE PARKING will be provided at all event venues.


Flint Community Program and Reception

Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Mott Community College Event Center

1401 East Court Street, Flint

Cost: $0.00

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5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Arrival and Check In
Early Community Reception
Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages
Music by MCC Jazz Band
6:00 to 6:15 pmVirtual Tour of Flint
6:15 to 6:25 pmWelcome to Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016
Reggie Barnett, Director and Treasurer, Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative
6:25 to 6:30 pm
Welcome to Mott Community College
Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, President
6:30 to 6:35 pmWelcome to Flint
The Honorable Karen Weaver, Mayor
6:35 to 6:55 pm "Give Us What You Got" Community Improvement Pitches
What we heard from the citizens of Flint

During the September and early October, UEI staff and volunteers collected many short “community improvement pitches” from Flint residents. The pitch could be a business proposal, a suggestion for community improvement, or the description of a problem the resident experienced or witnessed. During this session, we will summarize what we learned, and how entrepreneurs might use this information to improve the city. Also, the winning pitches will be played and awards presented.

Thanks to SIPI Solutions for their planning assistance.
6:55 to 7:20 pm The Young Urban Entrepreneur Talks

Lisa Banks, Professor of Accounting and Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, Mott Community College


Eric Thomas, Senior Partner, SAGA Marketing

Justine Sheu, CEO and co-founder, ProUp

David Alade, co-founder and managing partner, Century Partners
7:20 to 7:45 pm Evening Keynote: An Urban Revival

Lennetta Coney, President, The Foundation for Mott Community College

David Tarver, proud native of Flint
President, Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative
Founder and CEO: Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc.
Author: Proving Ground, A Memoir

Mr. Tarver will touch briefly upon the lessons he learned growing up in Flint that set the stage for his successful career in technology entrepreneurship. He will then reveal some basic tools for understanding how any business works, and how citizens with an “entrepreneurial mindset” can use those tools to transform their community.
7:50 to 8:30 pm Finals: Urban Infrastructure Challenge
Produced in Cooperation with U-M Center for Entrepreneurship

Participants in the Urban Infrastructure Challenge will have developed a business model that addresses an important infrastructure need experienced by Flint and similar communities. Each of the four finalist teams will present their four minute pitch to the judges, and a winner will be chosen.

Moderator: Tom Frank, Executive Director, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship

Biogasification - Mikaela Strech
CityWater - Abess Makki
Flint for Fiber - Adarsh Rachmale
Movatic - Ansgar Strother

Lisa Banks, Professor of Accounting and Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, Mott Community College
Reggie Barnett, Director, Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium
Paul Brown, Partner, Michigan eLab
Thomas Frank, Executive Director, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship
David Ollila, VP of Innovation, Skypoint Ventures
8:30 to 9:30 pm Late Community Reception
Coffee, soft drinks, cookies served
Music by Stephanie + Jovial Rydecki

The community networking reception will gather people from all segments of the Flint community, as well as people from Southeast Michigan and beyond, to get acquainted, network, and celebrate the resilient spirit of Flint people. The winner of the Urban Infrastructure Challenge will be announced during the reception.

Conference Program

Thursday, October 20, 2016, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

University of Michigan Northbank Center

432 N. Saginaw Street, Flint

Cost: $25.00

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8:00 to 9:00 amRegistration and Continental Breakfast
"Morning Music"
9:00 to 9:15 amWhy urban entrepreneurship? Why Flint? Why now?

W. David Tarver
President, Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative
9:15 to 10:00 amEngaging and Assessing an Urban Community


Adrian Montague, Founder, Flint SOUP

Isaiah Oliver, Vice President of Community Impact, Community Foundation of Greater Flint

Phyllis Sykes, Member, Flint Center for International Cooperation

Kevin Schronce, Lead Planner, City of Flint

Ehsan Taqbeem, Chairman of the Board, Bangladeshi American Resources Group (BAPAC) and President and CEO, Manufacturing Quality Resources Group, LLC (mQrg)


Steve Wolbert, SIPI Solutions

Effective urban economic development begins with community engagement. Each of the panelists has taken a different approach to community engagement, and each has achieved impressive results. This panel will explore their triumphs and their setbacks, and will reveal some common themes.
10:00 to 10:30 amDemolition Means Progress: The Interview

Special Guest:

Andrew R. Highsmith, Author, Demolition Means Progress


W. David Tarver, Founder and President, Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

In one of the most comprehensive works yet written on the history of inequality and metropolitan development in modern America, Andrew R. Highsmith uses the case of Flint to explain how the perennial quest for urban renewal contributed to mass suburbanization, racial and economic division, deindustrialization, and political fragmentation. His book should be required reading for anyone seeking to do economic development work in Flint. This interview will explore how the lessons from Flint’s economic past can inform the city’s current revitalization efforts.

Barnes and Noble will be on hand to sell copies of Demolition Means Progress, and Dr. Highsmith will autograph.
10:30 to 10:45 am Break
10:45 am to 12:15 pmBuilding an Effective Urban Entrepreneurship Ecosystem


Michael Finney, President and CEO, Community Ventures Resources Inc.

David Ollila, VP of Innovation, Skypoint Ventures

Pavan Muzumdar, Chief Operating Officer, Automation Alley

Leslie Smith, President and CEO, EPICenter Memphis


Ned Staebler, Vice-President for Economic Development, Wayne State University, and President & CEO, TechTown Detroit

Creating an environment where entrepreneurs can develop their ideas, start businesses, and sometimes build successful companies is not a simple matter. It requires more than assembling a network of innovators, financiers, business professionals, educators, co-working spaces and such. A successful entrepreneurship ecosystem taps into and builds upon the unique characteristics of its home community. How does one go about building a dynamic, successful entrepreneurship ecosystem in Flint? How does that compare to what is happening elsewhere? A panel of distinguished urban business development experts will compare and contrast their approaches.
12:15 to 1:15 pm Lunch
1:15 to 2:00 pm Student Urban Entrepreneurs


Aaron Foote, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Massachusetts

Karina Lopez, University of Michigan

Stacey Matlen, CEO, Cart

Taylor Neeley, Mott Community College

Benjamin Seidman, Director of Business Development, SPLT


Marlo Rencher, Vice President, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Diversity, Cleary University

Millennial students want to “change the world,” and are drawn to the urban landscape by the chance to connect with others and make a real difference. So, how is it going for students who have taken the plunge? What have they learned from their urban experiences? How have they been received by sometimes wary community members? How can collaboration and progress best be achieved? This panel will explore these topics and more with a panel of students who aspire to be urban entrepreneurs.
2:00 to 2:10 pm Introduction of Afternoon Keynote Speaker

Dr. Scott Johnson, Dean, University of Michigan-Flint School of Management
2:10 to 2:40 pm “University-Led Urban Entrepreneurship”


Jeffrey Robinson, Academic Director and Senior Fellow, The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Rutgers University Business School

Dr. Robinson, leader of a pioneering academic program in urban entrepreneurship, will discuss the impact his program has produced in Newark, New Jersey and beyond. He will outline the rationale and basic tenets of urban entrepreneurship, and how a focus on inclusive urban business development can benefit entire communities.
2:40 to 3:40 pm Social Impact Sector “Smackdown”


Karen Aldridge-Eason, Office of Foundation Liaison, Office of the Governor

Jason Ball, SIPI Solutions

Garlin Gilchrist II, Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology, City of Detroit

Chris Uhl, Vice President, Community Investments, Rock Ventures LLC

George Wilkinson, Pastor, Word of Life Christian Church and Group Vice President, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce


Rishi Moudgil, Managing Director, Center for Social Impact, U-M Ross School of Business

How best to achieve positive social impact? Not for profit organizations? Philanthropy? Government intervention? Faith-based action? Raw capitalism? A panel of experts – one representing each sector — will discuss and debate the merits of their approach to achieving social impact.
3:40 to 3:50 pm Break
3:50 to 4:30 pm Finals: Urban Jobs Challenge
Produced in cooperation with U-M Flint School of Management

Participants in the Urban Jobs Challenge will have developed a business model that has the potential to generate a significant number of entry-level jobs in Flint or a similar community. Each of the four finalist teams will present their four-minute pitch to the judges, and a winner will be chosen.

Dr. Mark Simon, Hageman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Director of the Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
University of Michigan - Flint

Altrashonna Adams - Mommy Cakes
Reinvent Flint - Michelle Cardillo
Sprout Flint - Bethany Blackburn
The Shelf - Zechariah Keith

Harry Blecker, Senior Growth Building Consultant, MI-SBDC Kettering
Brian Blume, Professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management, University of Michigan-Flint
Erin Cavusgil, Associate Professor, U-M Flint School of Management
Dom Holmes, Manager of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Automation Alley

4:30 to 6:00 pm Free time, relocate to Flint Farmers Market

“The Matrix” Business Networking Reception

Thursday, October 20, 2016, 6:00 to 8:30 pm

Flint Farmers Market

300 East First Street, Flint

Cost: included with Conference Program registration

A networking reception for entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and their allies in academia, government, business, and the community at large. Great food, beverages, and entertainment.

6:00 to 7:00 pmEat, drink, mix, talk, dance.
7:00 to 7:40 pmMusic by Mama Sol
7:40 to 7:50 pmPresentation of award to winner of the Urban Jobs Challenge
7:50 to 8:00 pm"Choosing the Pill"
8:00 to 9:00 pmMore music, mixing, talking, and dancing.


Seminars Program

Friday, October 21, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Mott Community College Regional Technology Center

1401 East Court Street, Flint

Cost: $25.00

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We will present four non-overlapping seminars on topics that are timely and useful for urban entrepreneurs. These seminars will be presented in the stunning and very functional Regional Technology Center lecture hall.

8:00 to 9:00 amArrival, Registration, Continental Breakfast
9:00 to 10:30 am"Getting Off the Dime"
Starting an Urban-Focused Business

Presented by:
W. David Tarver, founder and president, Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative and lecturer, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship
10:40 am to 12:10 pm"Billions of People, Trillions of Dollars"
The Basics and Promise of E-Commerce

Presented by:
Jason Habeger, founder and president, Ride Scoozy and lecturer, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship
12:15 to 1:15 pm Lunch
12:25 to 1:10 pmGuided tour of Regional Technology Center FABLAB
1:30 to 3:00 pm “Who’s Backin’ You?”
Financing Your Urban Startup

Produced by SBDC Michigan
3:15 to 4:45 pm"Image is (Almost) Everything"
Winning Strategies, Tactics, and Techniques for Personal and Business Branding

Presented by:
Hajj Flemings, Founder, BrandCamp University