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BBA Alum Funds Program to Support Student Entrepreneurs

1/13/2012 --

Tim Mayleben, BBA '84, launches Venture Shaping Program through Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Underscoring its mission to create courses and programs that help students develop their entrepreneurial skills and ultimately build successful, innovative businesses, the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Ross has launched a new venture shaping program. The Mayleben Family Venture Shaping Program is funded through a generous donation from Aastrom Biosciences CEO and President Tim Mayleben, BBA '84, and his spouse, Dawn Mayleben. The grant program will teach student teams from across the University how to transform identified opportunities into businesses.

With the guidance of expert faculty, each student team will go through a three-part process, including directed discovery, value system synthesis, and profiting from capabilities (PFC) framework evaluation. At the end of the iterative process, students will have a clear description of a business that will solve a validated market need, as well as tangible insight into its commercial promise. Twenty five teams will be awarded cash prizes to take the idea to the next step in the business development process.

"The Venture Shaping program was created to teach a method for students to identify and transform ideas into the beginning phases of a business," says Tim Faley, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “Product designers often follow a 'design-build-test' model, but a business is simply too expensive to build before testing. For this reason, the institute encourages and teaches students to follow a 'design-test-build' model that will set them up for success, or encourage them to move on if the idea does not make for a realistic business. We are pleased to have the support that enables the Zell Lurie Institute to give students across the University of Michigan campus such valuable, real-world experience."

Venture Shaping will serve as a perfect stepping stone between two of the University’s top existing entrepreneurial grant programs and competitions. The earlier-stage 1000 Pitches competition, hosted by student-run organization MPowered Entrepreneurship, is aimed at generating innovative business and product ideas. Dare to Dream, a twice-annual competition, encourages students to move through the business-creation process and awards upwards of $10,000 in grant funding for the most promising ideas. The College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship partnered with the Zell Lurie Institute on an experimental version of the program in fall 2010. Venture Shaping will pick up where students leave off with 1000 Pitches and position them to succeed in Dare to Dream.

"We’re excited to be a bigger part of the Zell Lurie Institute, the Ross School, and the University of Michigan," says Mayleben. "Dawn and I firmly believe in the power of the action-based learning and entrepreneurial education. We're confident the Venture Shaping program could provide the framework and resources needed to turn some of the world’s most promising business visions into reality."

The first Venture Shaping competition, open to U-M students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, will launch in winter 2012.

For more information, contact:
Mary Nickson, (734) 615-4424,