1. Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project Looking for a Few More Business Students

    September 5, 2017

    The Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project, an interdisciplinary clinic that pairs Detroit neighborhood-based businesses with students from the Ross School of Business, Law School, and Stamps School of Art & Design is looking for a few more students from the Ross School for its second semester pilot. Students receive 2-3 credits as independent study research hours under the direction of Professor Cathy Shakespeare. The program is funded by JPMorgan Chase Foundation and M Cubed.


    The goals of this project are to help Detroit small businesses – particularly minority- and women-owned small businesses, identify and overcome obstacles to allow them to increase revenue, expand, and better access credit; to provide students with real-world experience solving real business problems; and to lay the foundation for a sustained partnership between the University of Michigan and Detroit-based small businesses.

    A partial list of the services and work product completed by collaborative student teams and already delivered to clients to assist them with the clients’ stated needs includes:

    • Conducting legal research and submitted trademark applications to the USPTO and opinion letters;
    • Resolving entity/incorporation issues;
    • Conducting market research and developing financial projections to help a business owner see how much product she would need to sell each day to become profitable;
    • Using techniques from design and marketing to help a client develop a marketing plan that includes a profile of her target customer, a refined logo, business card mock-ups, a trade show booth design model, and social media plan;
    • Creating easy-to-use, cash flow and break-even spreadsheets to help business owners track event expenses to help them see overhead expenses that were invisible to them before;
    • Researching and comparing various point of sale systems, including ease of use, business owner existing knowledge, and ability to integrate the system into Quickbooks, to produce a software recommendation to the client; and
    • Creating a map of a company’s standard business processes to identify ways in which the entrepreneur could use automation and/or outsourced labor to boost capacity.

    AFTER ONLY FOUR MONTHS WITH THE STUDENT TEAMS, one of the client entrepreneurs – who was on the edge of permanently closing her brick and mortar store – has already expanded to being open five days a week, and has hired her first part-time employee.


    With your help, participating businesses will report:
    – Increases in overall revenue;
    – Increases in profits;
    – Having hired new employees, increased hours of existing employees, or having themselves become employed full-time in their business;
    – Having obtained new capital within 24 months of participation;
    – Having an improved understanding of their company’s financial position, through increased financial competency, market analysis reports, or other tools developed by students to help them monitor business performance;
    – Overall improved efficiencies in their business (through automation, outsourcing, or other process improvements) which allow them to focus on strategic planning and big picture goals;
    – An increased awareness of the legal and business environment in which they operate, and the laws and regulations that affect their business; and
    – An overall increase in their happiness and reduced stress as a result of having a vexing business or legal issue resolved.

    To sign up, contact Professor Shakespeare directly, or contact program director Christie Baer (cbaer@umich.edu).