MSU students participate in Startup Weekend Lansing competition
Editor’s Note: This story was changed to reflect the winners and prizes from the Startup Weekend Lansing event.
Eric Jorgenson went on monthly trips to the local store to buy bulk candy, sold the goods out of his locker at a markup and made easy money as a middle schooler.
Although his first business eventually was shut down by the school because he was undercutting bake sales, Jorgenson, an economics and general management senior, still has a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back now, it’s kind of the seed that has grown into what is going on today,” he said.
Jorgenson planned and organized the Startup Weekend Lansing, a marathon of business building with guest speakers and networking held Nov. 5-7 at the Technology Innovation Center, 325 E. Grand River Ave.
The weekend started with a mixer, where participants pitched their project ideas, and divided into seven teams, Jorgenson said. The teams then worked to figure out a business plan and marketing strategy for a five-minute presentation to a panel of judges, who choose the weekend’s winners.
The final presentation was held Sunday at MSU’s Henry Center for Executive Development, 3535 Forest Road, in Lansing.
As part of the winning team in the Startup Weekend Detroit event six months ago, Jorgenson said he wanted to bring the event to the Lansing area.
“It’s really good to see a lot of partnerships developing that will hopefully continue for months,” he said.
Surrounded by energy drinks, laptops and the silence of deep thinking, the Classified Elephant team cheered at 2:55 p.m. Sunday as it launched its website.
Classified Elephant, a project pitched at the event, is a secondhand auction site compiling the online information on the market value of any item, economics senior Jake L’Ecuyer said.
Users can either use the information either to purchase or sell the item for that price, he said.
The idea was hatched months ago, but this weekend has accelerated the business plan, L’Ecuyer said.
Jess Daniel, an MSU graduate student, led the Neighborhood Noodle team in creating a plan to expand her food distribution business in Detroit and to develop other food entrepreneurs in the area.
“It’s very inspiring to see all these people here and a lot of really young people who have really good ideas and are following through with them,” Daniel said.
The prize for most likely to receive funding went to Jolly Digital, a company which aims to create video games to teach students about finances.
Jolly Digital received $1,000 in investment from the MSU Alumni Foundation and TJ Duckett, former MSU football player and entrepreneur, Jorgenson said.
The business also will receive a branding and imaging package from Cam Gnass, owner of a Lansing-based advertising firm Traction, and will be assigned as a project in a class taught by Constantinos Coursaris, an assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media, to give 400 hours of work to help the business.
Loomis Law Firm will provide Jolly Digital with free legal consultation on incorporation.
The coolest and most popular awards went to Thoughtback, a web-based service to help people remember their ideas.
Thoughtback also will receive $1,000 in support from the MSU Alumni Foundation.
The event was under budget, which provided the opportunity for a raffle of five Kindles and two iPads as well as various software from TechSmith software, Jorgenson said.