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July 19, 2023

SVSU receives grant to help SVSU Midland County students launch businesses

Young woman speaking into microphone

Starting a business can be an exciting — but often daunting ―  undertaking. With a generous grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation, Saginaw Valley State University is positioned to help four Midland County SVSU students launch businesses in the next year. The SVSU Student Entrepreneurs project will provide vital resources and tailored support to help students successfully establish their startups.

“Thanks to the $40,000 grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation, we will provide seed funding, tailored support, and infrastructure to help four SVSU student entrepreneurs launch their businesses in Midland County. This support enables our student entrepreneurs to navigate Michigan's diverse business environment, foster innovation, and shape a brighter future for all,” said Mohamed Adel, associate director of the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU.

Through the Student Entrepreneurs, operated as part of the Dow Entrepreneur Institute within SVSU’s Carmona College of Business, students will find assistance with a variety of business startup challenges, including:

  • Identifying a business problem
  • Developing a prototype solution
  • Identifying angel clients
  • Preparing the resources needed to continue creating the startup

The SVSU Student Entrepreneurs project will coordinate resources and provide labs for students to work on their projects, regardless of their field of study.

Unlike startup competitions that reward just one individual or entity, the Student Entrepreneurs project will offer the same resources to each of the student businesses with the aim of positioning them all to succeed.

Each student entrepreneur can earn up to $10,000 based on the documented achievement of five specific milestones:

  • Building the business model canvas (BMC) and incorporating the business. This includes the value proposition, customer components block, resources components block, revenue structure and cost structure. Funding earned: $1,500.
  • Validating the product/service. The purpose is to work on developing detailed blueprints of the product/service they want to offer and building a clear cost structure for the product/service. Funding earned: $5,000.
  • Building the marketing plan. This includes delivering a detailed marketing plan that includes situational analysis, target marketing, positioning, competitive analysis, marketing mix, and control measures. Funding earned: $2,000.
  • Building the financial model. This includes 3-5 year financial projections, assumptions, sensitivity analysis, and valuation. Funding earned: $1,000.
  • Building the business plan. To raise funds from investors, students will build a business plan that includes a detailed description of the company, industry analysis, market analysis, marketing and sales strategy, operations plan, financial plan, and the company’s management structure and staffing needs. Funding earned: $500.

Adel explained that the project’s broader purpose is to help strengthen the local economy.

“Entrepreneurial activity is a vital indicator of economic strength. Small businesses create jobs and opportunities for all citizens and improve the overall quality of life,” Adel said. “Entrepreneurs play a crucial role in helping the Great Lakes Bay Region navigate a shifting and often uncertain economy. It is essential to assist college student entrepreneurs who are just starting their careers. College campuses are ideal environments for entrepreneurism as they provide resources, collaborative opportunities, and a platform for incubating and developing innovative ideas.”

SVSU’s Student Entrepreneurs is modeled on a program at Ohio University’s Innovation Center that supported 249 jobs generating an estimated $18 million in employee compensation and $49.7 million in economic output in Athens County in 2021. Over the last seven years, the business incubator’s job creation numbers have increased 78%, and employee compensation generated from its client companies is up 211%”

For SVSU, a conservative projection is that 10 student businesses (the total project scope) will create 200 jobs over five years and generate $10 million in economic activity over the same period. Entrepreneurial success or failure is difficult to predict, but it is also true that communities that prioritize strategic investments in start-up businesses tend to enjoy higher rates of growth.

Student entrepreneurs are now being recruited for the program. SVSU students from Midland County who are interested in participating can find more information or apply for the program here:

The Midland Area Community Foundation exists to cultivate the power of giving within our community, support long-term transformation, and help ensure all residents thrive.

The project aligns with the Midland Area Community Foundation’s Building Our Livelihood focus area.