Broad students crush competition at third annual Burgess New Venture Challenge

Broad Spartans dominate third annual Burgess New Venture Challenge winners’ circle

By Bridgette Bauer, student writer
Monday, April 19, 2021

The Burgess New Venture Challenge is an annual competition that highlights top student entrepreneurs and celebrates Michigan State University’s growing venture creation ecosystem. The third annual competition, held on April 1, set the bar high with students from six colleges presenting their innovations — which ranged from sustainable clothing to electric bikes — for a chance to win a share of up to $40,000 in cash prizes.

Of the 15 semifinalist and five finalist teams chosen by a panel of expert judges, the winner’s circle was dominated by Broad Spartans. [Read the whole story by clicking here!]

Burgess New Venture Challenge 2021 Judges

Burgess New Venture Challenge Announces 2021’s Judges Panel

East Lansing, Mich — The Burgess New Venture Challenge (BNVC) announced today the lineup of judges deciding the fortunes of fifteen semifinalist teams at the third annual student startup competition. On April 1, 2021, Fifteen Student Semifinalist teams will compete for a chance at $40K in total prizes.

2021 Burgess New Venture Challenge Judges

BNVC judges are passionate about venture creation and Michigan State University's entrepreneurial community. From prosperous entrepreneurs to venture capital and angel investors to c-suite executives, the Burgess New Venture Challenge 2021 judges are experts with deep ties to the university.

"Spartan alumni play a critical role in our entrepreneurial community. Serving as a judge for our premier student venture competition is a significant commitment. We're thrilled to have some incredible Spartans and friends involved in this capacity," said Christopher Sell, director of alumni and entrepreneur engagement at the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "This year's panel of BNVC judges includes accomplished founders, investors, and executives at high-growth ventures, and we appreciate the time they're giving to our student semifinalists."

Joining 2021's panel of Burgess New Venture Challenge judges are:

  • Kavita Bouknight — Co-founder and CEO, Match Health

Kavita Bouknight (Eli Broad College of Business, '99) is an entrepreneur, digital health maven, patient health advocate, investor, and speaker. Her mission is to connect people to targeted health innovations, enabling them to lead healthier lives. Bouknight is the co-founder and CEO of Match Health, a digital health platform that brings greater awareness and accessibility to transformative health innovations. Match Health has developed and maintains a vast video library that reviews various medical conditions and the innovations to treat them.

  • Brian Burgess — Co-Founder, VROMP; Managing Member, Glengarry Partners

Brian Burgess (Eli Broad College of Business, '01; MBA, '12) is co-founder and CEO of Veterinary Rehabilitation Orthopedic Medicine Partners (VROMP). His company is the nation's first group of standalone veterinary practices focused on high-quality, non-surgical rehabilitation and orthopedic medical care. Before launching VROMP, Burgess had a 15-year corporate career in Finance & Business Development.

  • April Clobes — President/CEO, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union

April Clobes (Eli Broad College of Business, '94) has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union since March of 2015. MSUFCU has an asset size of over $6.1 billion, 305,000 members worldwide, 990 employees, and 22 branch locations throughout Michigan. Clobes has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Michigan State University, a Master of Arts degree from Michigan State University in Advertising, and a Master of Business Administration from Western Michigan University.

  • Shaniqua Davis — CEO and Founder, Noirefy

Shaniqua Davis (Communication Arts and Sciences, '13) is a digital marketing and technology enthusiast with an eye for detail beyond conventional digital-relations norms. A Detroit-native, Davis learned early on to use innovative techniques to gain both experience and significant opportunities for advancement. Davis launched the job referral website, Noirefy, in June of 2016, connecting qualified job seekers of color with top-tier companies.

  • Kelly Ford — General Partner, Edison Partners

Kelly Ford (Communication Arts and Sciences, '94) is a tech industry executive turned equity investor with a specialty in accelerating growth and building enterprise value for software companies, from startup to $100M.

  • Anurag Kumar — Managing Director, Improving Nearshore

Anurag Kumar (Eli Broad College of Business, '96) has over 35 years of executive experience in the outsourcing services and technology industries, including more than 21 years as president or CEO. He has founded five companies and led two rapid turnarounds. Kumar co-founded iTexico in 2010, a nearshore software service leader with operations in Austin, the Bay Area, Guadalajara, and Aguascalientes. Before selling it to Improving Nearshore in 2020, he grew iTexico into a multimillion-dollar company with over 300 employees and 250+ clients in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the UK.

  • Rebecca Roman Landini — Co-Founder and Creative Director, StarForged Studios LLC.

Rebecca Roman Landini (Communication Arts and Sciences, '19) is a game developer with a passion for all things creative. She graduated with a Masters in Media and Information and a certificate in Serious Game Design from Michigan State University. Roman Landini first came up with the idea, Edge, StarForged's debut title, in 2017. She gathered a group of friends who worked on the game in their spare time until they decided to apply for 2020's BNVC as StarForged Studios. The team won 3rd Place, opening many doors to StarForged, including being part of the Conquer Accelerator's 2020 cohort.

  • Tom Ryan — Co-Founder, Smashburger

Tom Ryan (Agriculture and Natural Resources, '79) is an amalgam of many things. He is a food scientist, earning Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees in Flavor and Fragrance Chemistry from Michigan State University. During his doctoral studies, he became intrigued with Marketing and Consumer Research, which set him on the career path of a lifetime. In 2007, Tom co-created Smashburger, an industry icon for quality, growth, and business acumen. He currently holds Global Taste Advisor's title to Jollibee Food Corporation, focusing on optimizing concept and menu elements.

  • Jun Wang — Director, Engineering & Data Science, Twitter

Jun Wang (Natural Science, '04) has been leading the software engineering and data science teams for Twitter's revenue business since 2013. He ran data science and product development at a venture-funded startup in the fin-tech space before joining Twitter's team.

  • Jeff Wesley — Executive Director of Venture Investment, Red Cedar Ventures

Jeff Wesley was the CEO of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, the nation's largest local moving company, where he received national recognition as a top franchise executive. Before joining Red Cedar Ventures in 2018, Wesley also served as the President of Accu Bite Dental Supply, an Inc. 100 company that a Fortune 500 company acquired. Wesley is an angel investor and is a member of both Capital Community Angels and the Michigan Angel Fund. Wesley served on various economic and community boards including, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). He holds his bachelor's degree in accounting from Central Michigan University.

This year's BNVC competition is fierce. But, as every judge knows, to win, competitors must demonstrate they have listened closely to their customers and responded to their needs with game-changing solutions. 2021's BNVC semifinalists will pitch their ideas during a private, virtual session on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. With only five finalist slots available, student venturers will need to convince this year's panel of judges they have what it takes to compete. On April 1, 2021, every BNVC team will showcase their ventures in a virtual setting. Who will take the top prize? Register for the Burgess New Venture Challenge here and find out!


About the Burgess New Venture Challenge

The Burgess New Venture Challenge promotes entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation at Michigan State University. The competition identifies strong Spartan startups, provides mentorship and team development workshops, and culminates in a year-end showcase event. 2021's virtual event launches April 1, 2021. Find out more at 

About the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation empowers students to learn through action by providing programs, courses, and resources to foster an entrepreneurial mindset, develop empathy, and create new ventures. Our program is designed to prime students to embrace failure mindfully, explore unknowns, and develop skills that matter. Find out more at




Michigan State Athletics Partners with Burgess Institute

Spartan Athletics Partners with MSU Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Spartan student-athletes will embark on a six-week entrepreneurship training camp with the Burgess Institute.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Spartan Athletics and the Michigan State University Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation have announced a collaborative partnership that will educate student-athletes on how to sharpen their entrepreneurial mindset, master business basics and learn the process of creating new ventures.

Housed within the nationally renowned Michigan State Broad College of Business, the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation empowers students to learn through action by providing programs, courses and resources that are designed to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset and develop skills essential to success in an ever-changing market.

The Burgess Institute, a top-ranking entrepreneurship education center, will teach a six-week training camp on the entrepreneurial mindset to Spartan teams, instructed by faculty and staff from the institute, including programming on life after sports, creativity and emotional intelligence, networking and storytelling, and business model creation. The course will culminate with “Pitch Day” on Week 6 as teams will vote on the winner of the entrepreneurship training camp.

Desireé Melfi Bozzo, the institute’s student success and advising manager, is an advocate for student entrepreneurial education. “Student-athletes are conditioned to work hard and driven by expectations of excellence,” she said. “By offering student-athletes concentrated entrepreneurial mindset training, the Burgess Institute’s team is focusing on life skills that will ensure success—long after student-athletes earn their degrees.”

“More and more, students demand learning that is grounded in hands-on experiences and prepares them for a job market that thirsts for innovative thinkers,” said Ken Szumusiak, the Burgess Institute’s managing director for academic programs. “The Entrepreneurship Training Camp is designed with three tangible goals: sharpening the Entrepreneurial Mindset, infusing business acumen and exposing student-athletes to the venture creation process.”

The Spartan football team will be the first sport to utilize the training camp, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 24.

“This partnership will be a great resource for our players and help teach them life skills they can use both during their time here on campus, and after graduation,” said MSU head football coach Mel Tucker. “We are incredibly fortunate to have a world-class business school at Michigan State and the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation offers valuable tools, including personal branding strategies, vast networking opportunities and access to the MSU Hatch, which will prepare our players for future success. I’m excited that our entire team will have access to this groundbreaking course.”

“Innovative collaborations and partnerships are a top priority for MSU Athletics and the success of our student-athletes,” said Elliott Daniels, Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Engagement. “Through the Eli Broad College of Business, student-athletes have at their fingertips a top-15 nationally recognized program in the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to cultivate entrepreneurial skills for the present and beyond. The combination of best-in-class entrepreneurial leaders and resources with world-class student-athletes will have a tremendous impact on current and future Spartan student-athletes alike. Creative ideas, solutions, and ventures are limitless, and we are beyond excited about this campus partnership.”

The Burgess Institute offers a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation through the Broad College of Business, as well as resources and co-working space dedicated to helping Spartans build their ventures. More information can be found at

Burgess New Venture Challenge Announces Semifinalists for Third Annual Competition

East Lansing, Mich. — The Burgess New Venture Challenge (BNVC)today announces the fifteen semifinalist teams selected to compete in its third annual contest. On April 1, 2021, the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will host the early-stage pitch competition in a virtual setting. The annual competition highlights top student entrepreneurs and celebrates Michigan State University’s growing venture creation ecosystem. 

The Burgess New Venture Challenge is more than a competition,” said Ken Szymusiak, managing director of academic programs for the Burgess Institute. “This is high-stakes experiential learning. These fifteen semifinalists must prove their ideas are viable; the market demands their solutions; and, ultimately, that their value propositions hold up to scrutiny.”  

2021’s BNVC semifinalists will pitch their ideas during a private, virtual session on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. With only five finalist slots available, student venturers will need to convince a panel of expert judges they have what it takes to compete for the $40,000 in total cash prizes. 

BNVC requires student applicants to be competition-ready: To qualify to compete, students must enroll in the Burgess Institute’s intensive Launch program, collect feedback about their ideas from potential customers as well as business leaders and venture coaches, and form collaborative teams around their submitted ideas. 

“We wanted to create a competition that supports student venturers from concept to pitch,” said Paul Jaques, managing director of venture creation for the Burgess Institute. “The BNVC experience ensures students are thinking critically about their ideas. They spend time refining and derisking. They are building skills through action: market research, customer discovery, supply chain — these are essential skills that bring value to their futures, whether they pursue their startups or join established firms and innovate from within. 

Burgess New Venture Challenge Semifinalists  

2021’s Burgess New Venture Challenge semifinalist applicants represent six colleges and over a dozen disciplines of studyHere are this year’s semifinalists: 

Auxin Games 

Applicant: Angelos (Rhys) Gogonis ( of Natural Science 

Auxin Games designs & develops learning games, which teach STEM concepts such as biology, for organizations that seek better ways to engage, communicate with, or recruit students.  

Branching Out 

Applicant: Avery Tilley ( of Agriculture & Natural Resources 

Branching Out’s customizable, grafted fruit trees are the solution for your average houseplants. Branching Out: a supplier of fully customizable, grafted fruit trees yielding sustainable, organic peaches, plums, cherries, and more all from the same tree that is growing comfortably in your living room.  


Applicant: Brendan Wang ( Broad College of Business 

CAPNOS is on a mission to prevent lung diseases and save lives with the CAPNOS® Zero, a better, cleaner alternative to vaping that addresses behavioral addiction with zero smoke, zero nicotine, and zero charge.  


Applicant: Gavin Hubbard ( Broad College of Business 

Catch is a virtual networking platform, designed to facilitate more effective and efficient networking amongst attendees at virtual events. Attendees can view, connect, and interact with others who are at the same virtual event, making networking as seamless and close to normal as possible.

Chalk Talk 

Applicant: Mathew Forgacs ( Broad College of Business 

Chalk Talk makes reading easy and quick. A mobile app to read sections of text as short, separated, and digitized posts. 


Applicant: Eric Klinefelter ( of Engineering 

At CLIFTN, we engineer, design and manufacture light electric bikes. Most trips in the US are 5 miles or less, and our lightweight electric bikes are a perfect fit. 

GrandStand Music Festival 

Applicant: Kayla Green ( of Music 

GrandStand Music Festival takes a stand against human trafficking by raising awareness and support through dynamic, educational music events.  


Applicant: Cory Eisenhard ( Broad College of Business 

Groupi is Crowdsourcing Social Media. A social media app with customizable and reusable tools for groups and businesses. 

INFKNIT Apparel, Inc. 

Applicant: Jackie Smythe ( Broad College of Business 

INFKNIT creates sustainable, versatile apparel that combats negative environmental impacts, designed for the conscious consumer.  

Intertwined Entertainment 

Applicant: Joshua May ( of Communication Arts & Sciences 

Intertwined Entertainment is a creative solutions company that specializes in music, production, and marketing services. Artists come to us for all their creative needs. 

Kraze Cases 

Applicant: Mouna Zarghami ( of Communication Arts & Sciences 

Kraze Case is an online phone case business providing customers with durable and fashionable phone covers at a low cost. 


Applicant: Jacqueline Maggioncalda ( of Communication Arts & Sciences 

MEND UP is a recycled fashion lifestyle box and community that supports our planet and your style. MEND UP counters dieting culture, vanity clothing sizing, and clothing waste. 

Picture It Staging 

Applicant: James Hamer ( Broad College of Business 

Picture It’s high-quality virtual staging services helps real estate agents sell homes faster and for more money. With the majority of homebuyers starting their searches online, the first impression is everything. Vacant or outdated photos won’t do. 

Applicant: Raghunath Reddy Koilakonda ( Broad College of Business 

TheFrameKart is one of the fastest-growing multinational online eyewear retailers, offering a variety of both high-quality precision designer and in-house brands. 

Vital Education to Improve Lives (VEIL) 

Applicant: Tiauna West ( Broad College of Business 

VEIL provides resources, education, and support to members of disadvantaged and underserved communities.  


About the Burgess New Venture Challenge 

The Burgess New Venture Challengepromotes entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation at Michigan State University. The competition identifies strong Spartan startups, provides mentorship and team development workshops, and culminates in a year-end showcase event. 2021’s virtual event launches April 1, 2021. Find out more at

About the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation 

The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation empowers students to learn through action by providing programs, courses, and resources to foster an entrepreneurial mindset, develop empathy, and create new ventures. Our program is designed to prime students to embrace failure mindfully, explore unknowns, and develop skills that matter. Find out more at

Startup Weekend East Lansing 2020

Bringing the World Closer One Startup Weekend at a Time

In the time before a once-in-a-century pandemic, attending an East Lansing Startup Weekend was a raucous occasion, replete with pizza, pop, and all-night work sessions. Since 2012, over a thousand students, community members, and mentors have gathered for one of the nearly two dozen East Lansing events—some participants coming from as far away as Montana. For 54 hours, Startup Weekenders would form teams around ideas, solve problems through collaboration, and, culminating in a final night of pitches, take home a year’s worth of frosted animal crackers.

East Lansing Startup Weekend November 2019
East Lansing Startup Weekend participants prepare to disperse into teams during a November 2019 event.

Today, though, while Spartans work to keep one another healthy, the team behind the Burgess Institute’s East Lansing Startup Weekend has quietly reinvented the event. They’ve trimmed it down to 30 hours and transitioned work sessions into the virtual space. What remains offers students new ways of fostering community, connection, and creativity.

Startup founders are well-acquainted with change and risk. Entrepreneurs and their teams need to pivot quickly through shifting customer behaviors, evolving supply chain dynamics, and the countless other unexpected challenges thwarting their paths. With lean teams and finite resources, these brave souls place a high price on adaptability and high-risk appetites.

“East Lansing Startup Weekend is all about building confidence,” Aubrey Haase, the Burgess Institute’s events & projects coordinator, explained. “It’s a platform where students, no matter their major or college, can bring their ideas to the table. You work hard to see if those ideas are attractive to the marketplace. Startup Weekend is the starting point where you show yourself — and your peers — what you can do.”

Haase, a recent graduate from Michigan State, knows this program firsthand. She’s seen it as a participant and now orchestrates the event as part of her full-time role with the Burgess Institute.

“Now that we’re virtual, these experiences are highly refined and tailored for students. We match skills, knowledge, and interests with submitted ideas, teammates, and expert Spartan alumni mentors. As Startup Weekenders build their teams and jump-start the venture creation process, we want to help them continue growing. That’s why we’re here.”

Like SKOOP digital, BRITE bites, CAPNOS, and Erudis Games, successful student companies have emerged from East Lansing Startup Weekend experiences. Their founders took their companies from the event directly into the Burgess Institute’s Discovery program.

Brendan Wang (Supply Chain ’22), founder and CEO of CAPNOS, made the most of his experience. “East Lansing Startup Weekend is energizing,” he said, “it’s a weekend that truly embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. Startup Weekend gave me the confidence to turn my idea into reality.” (Hear more from Brendan on Hatchcast.)

Wang, now part of the Burgess Institute’s most advanced entrepreneurial track, Launch, marshaled a team around his product idea, which has grown into the CAPNOS Zero. “In 30 hours, you have to convince your peers that your idea offers value, get them as excited as you are, and together we execute. Market research, prototyping, customer discovery, and building a compelling pitch. These are skills every entrepreneur needs.”

How You Can Get Involved

For the 2020–2021 academic year, the Burgess Institute offers four East Lansing Startup Weekend e-sessions — two in the fall (October 2 – 3 and November 6 – 7, 2020) and two in the spring (February 5 – 6, and April 9 – 10, 2021). This fall’s sessions saw over 140 East Lansing Startup Weekenders attend the virtual events.

While the transition to the virtual setting heightens student involvement, East Lansing Startup Weekend is seeing a dramatic uptick in alumni who want to be part of the community as student-team mentors. East Lansing Startup Weekend depends on talented, experienced alumni from a broad range of backgrounds, from experienced entrepreneurs to venture capital investors to seasoned operators of successful startups.

“It’s incredible,” said Christopher Sell, the Burgess Institute’s director of alumni and entrepreneur engagement. “We’ve always seen alumni enthusiasm around these events,” says Sell, “but under non-pandemic circumstances, we would be limited to inviting alumni who live near the Great Lakes Region. Now, we’re seeing mentors join us from across the nation. It’s impressive seeing this energy and the positive impact on our students.”

“The last time I participated in East Lansing Startup Weekend, I gained confidence that I can build a business in just a weekend,” said Vigneshwer Ramamoorthi (Sophomore, Computer Engineering). “But, this time, with [the event being] all virtual, Startup Weekend broke my personal record! This experience proved to me that we can build a company in just 30 hours, irrespective of where you are. I would like to thank the Burgess Institute who made me believe that we can do great things even if we are living in this new normal.”

Spring 2021’s East Lansing Startup Weekend first session is already accepting registrations for its February 5 – 6, 2021 event. The deadline to register and submit ideas for this session is January 29, 2021. Interested in attending? Please visit: Are you an alum ready to mentor? Reach out directly to Christopher Sell.

What's Your Venture?

MSU’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Rises to Fourteen in National Ranking

The Princeton Review announcement marks the third consecutive year of distinguished recognition

Contact(s): Aaryn Richard, Caroline Brooks

For the third straight year, Michigan State University’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is recognized as a leader in entrepreneurship education. The Princeton Review announced today its top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the nation, and Michigan State rises from #16 to #14.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem at Michigan State has received deep investments since its 2012 inception, fostering a culture of innovation where participants hone a mindset that attracts the attention of talented, motivated student and alumni venturers.

“Providing students with real-world opportunities to take action on their ideas is a serious undertaking,” said Lori Fischer, the Burgess Institute’s assistant director. “Since 2012, we’ve helped Spartans build the courage to take calculated risks and fortified those risks with tangible resources. Our programs are designed not only to assist students in launching successful ventures but also aid them in refining an entrepreneurial mindset.

MSU’s Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation launched in 2016 and continues to be one of the fastest-growing minors in the university’s history. With more than 700 students currently enrolled, the minor welcomes undergraduates from all MSU disciplines.

“When we launched the undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, our vision homed in on cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship at MSU. Being recognized by the Princeton Review for a third straight year confirms we’re doing something right,” said Ken Szymusiak, the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s managing director of academic programs. “This recognition highlights the depth and breadth of what we offer students — from an undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship and innovation to a student incubator to a summer accelerator to a venture capital fund, we’re supported by participation from all undergraduate colleges.”

Year over year, participation in the Burgess Institute’s programming has seen exponential growth. In fact, over the last five years student venturers have launched 691 startups, a 38% increase since 2015.

Beyond the entrepreneurship and innovation minor and 50+ entrepreneurship-related undergraduate courses, MSU’s student offerings include participation in national startup competitions like SXSW (South by Southwest), mentoring opportunities with successful entrepreneurial alumni, student organizations and clubs, as well as dynamic spaces for students to create.

“We had nearly 4,500 students participate in our academic entrepreneurship courses last year, representing 129 unique majors across all colleges. This is what sets Michigan State apart,” Szymusiak said.

“The colleges on our list have truly superb entrepreneurship programs,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “Their faculties are genuinely engaged in entrepreneurism. Their courses are rich with in-class and out-of-class experiential components, and the financial and networking support their students receive via donors and alumni is extraordinary.”

To compile the 2020 ranking, The Princeton Review surveyed more than 300 schools offering entrepreneurial studies across data points related to scholarships and grants, successful alumni entrepreneurs, and faculty support.

Spartan Gift Guide

 11 Spartan-owned, Michigan businesses to support this holiday season

As the holiday season quickly approaches, use this guide to explore goods from MSU alumni and student entrepreneurs. 

This holiday season, consider giving a gift that will help a fellow Spartan. The Broad College and Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation joined together and compiled 11 Michigan-based businesses, run by MSU alumni and students, as a handy holiday guide for your gifting this season. 

Read the full article by clicking here.

Adam M. Enfroy and Joshua Cooper

SKOOP digital Founder, Josh Cooper, Named 2020’s Adam M. Enfroy Digital Entrepreneurship Scholar

The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has chosen Joshua Cooper, an Advertising Management senior with a minor in entrepreneurship, as 2020’s Adam M. Enfroy Scholar for Digital Entrepreneurship. Cooper is the founder and CEO of SKOOP digital. The startup company offers its customers a robust software platform to manage their marketing messaging and creative assets across their existing, as well as tailor-made, digital screen infrastructure.

Adam M. Enfroy (Media and Information, ‘12) established the annual scholarship to recognize and support talented, highly motivated student venturers creating within the digital entrepreneurship space. Each year, the Burgess Institute selects a scholar who demonstrates traction within the digital entrepreneurship space and exemplary engagement within the Burgess Institute’s Discovery and Launch programs. Ideal scholars also show aptitude, passion, and commitment to their academic success and the ability to balance building a startup with the inherent demands of academic rigor. The Adam M. Enfroy Digital Entrepreneurship Scholarship awards $2,500 for the awardee to apply toward student expenses through the office of financial aid.

“Hard work pays off,” beamed Cooper, who has been part of Michigan State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for three years. “SKOOP would not be where it is today without the resources and support received from the Burgess Institute.”

Cooper is an alumnus of the Conquer Accelerator program’s 2019 cohort, receiving a $20,000 investment in exchange for an equity stake in SKOOP digital. Also, in 2019, Cooper took home the top prize at the Burgess New Venture Challenge.

“The Burgess Institute and its team never give up on their students. It’s an honor to be a part of this ecosystem—and I’m humbled to be named 2020’s Adam M. Enfroy Digital Entrepreneurship Scholar.”

Earlier this year, Adam M. Enfroy established the undergraduate scholarship in his name specifically for digital entrepreneurs.

Enfroy’s path to success was more winding than he anticipated. In a recent Hatchcast interview, Enfroy admitted he was not a model Spartan student during his time in East Lansing.

“College life was difficult for me. I didn’t take the opportunity as seriously as I should have, and, at the time, didn’t know what to do with my life.” In fact, by his junior year, Enfroy had failed classes. “Academics took a backseat to partying and having a good time.”

“It took me over five years to complete my degree from MSU. After graduation, I still felt pretty lost and was unsure what to do with my life. After a number of failures, I realized it was time to buckle down and make some big changes.” Ultimately, Enfroy taught himself digital marketing, traveled across the country taking marketing positions for tech companies, and was promoted five times in five years. After gaining enough experience, he decided to strike out on his own, launching his marketing blog,, in 2019.

Today, Enfroy’s blog reaches over 500,000 monthly readers, who are learning how to start and scale successful online businesses. In a recent Forbes interview, he highlights his personal struggles and how he now makes over $80K per month from his blog.

“Having this opportunity to give back is important to me,” said Enfroy, “entrepreneurs do not create in a vacuum, and our successes are the result of the help and support we receive along the way.”



Burgess Institute Launches Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Michigan State University welcomes five successful Spartan entrepreneurs into its Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program's inaugural cohort.

Starting this fall, students in the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation's globally recognized program can expect to receive even more in-depth, one-to-one mentorship and learning experiences. Open to all majors, students who are part of the institute's programming explore entrepreneurship as a career path and hone their entrepreneurial mindset.

Burgess Institute 2020–2021 EIR Cohort

Jamene Bowdry• Jasmene Bowdry (B.S. Fashion Merchandising, '05) is a retail strategist and fashion entrepreneur. She launched SHIFT StyleHouse®, a contemporary clothing boutique for the modern renaissance woman. Joining her love of business and passion for fashion, Bowdry also founded The Boutique Teacher, LLC, which provides both current and aspiring boutique owners with proven retail strategies to grow and scale their online businesses.

• Curtis Daniel III (B.S. Psychology, '95) is co-founder and CEO of Patchwerk Recording Studios. Under Daniel, Patchwerk Studios has been the home to more than a dozen Grammy-nominated audio engineers and over 100 gold and platinum records. Patchwerk has also been the creative force behind several educational programs and music events, such as Music University, Weekend Workshops, I Do Music, and R&B Live.

Stacey Marsh• Stacey Marsh (B.A. Marketing, '86) is the co-founder and former CEO of Flatout Flatbread. She lives by the simple words her father said to her," Never wonder 'what if.'" In 2015, she and Flatout Flatbread co-founder, her husband, Michael (B.A. Marketing, '85), successfully sold their company to Lancaster Colony. Today, she enjoys giving back and helping young entrepreneurs bring their dreams to life.

John Rood• John Rood (B.A. International Relations and Political Theory, '05) founded Next Step Test Preparation, which grew from a two-person tutoring operation to a market leader in pre-health entrance exam test preparation before selling to private equity. Today, he is the managing director at Greenrood Holdings LLC, which invests in education and edtech businesses.

Jim Wirth• Jim Wirth (B.A. Accounting and Information Systems, '89) is a co-founder and CEO at GiantMouse, LLC, and owner and CEO of Golden Gate Goods, LLC. Wirth started his career as a Computerized Information Systems Auditor at Price Waterhouse. He co-founded BASE Consulting Group in the San Francisco Bay Area, which merged with Knightsbridge Solutions before being acquired by Hewlett-Packard.

A vision outlined in 2012 has carried through to today: The Burgess Institute's team believes the same skills that make for successful entrepreneurs also make for successful humans. Further, Michigan State University is the destination for students to launch their high-impact, entrepreneurial journeys.

"The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation empowers students to learn through action," said Paul Jaques, the institute's managing director of venture creation. "By providing campus-wide programs, courses, and resources, we're watching how students have the freedom to test their ideas. They fail, they learn from their mistakes and make decisions about how to refine their processes. Together, we nurture an entrepreneurial mindset, improve empathy skills, and, in many cases, take new ventures to market."

With the EIR program's advent, student entrepreneurs can expect a more profound, meaningful experience in creating and launching their startups.

Christopher Sell, a social innovator and the Burgess Institute's director of alumni and entrepreneur engagement, brings together Spartans from across the nation. Since 2016, Sell has been laying the foundation for entrepreneurial alumni, connecting them with students building startups at Michigan State University. Of the 2020–2021 inaugural cohort, Sell believes, ". . . [w]e couldn't ask for a more passionate, more dedicated group of Spartans. 2020's EIR cohort brings accomplished entrepreneurs, innovators, and professionals to the table. These Spartans offer students a diversity of thought, backgrounds, and industry expertise."

The venture creation process is a challenge, which is why 2020's inaugural cohort welcomes alumni who demonstrate coaching and advising savvy, not to mention a deep capacity to understand the role and responsibility mentors play in students' daily lives.

Sell goes on to say, "Across their year with us, EIRs are expected to meet at minimum two hours per week with their mentees. From professional advice to listening and thinking through some of the most challenging problems our students face as creators, these mentors are here to prepare our students for a 21st-century career and economy."

The EIR selection process focuses on applicants' track records, availability, and deep commitment to giving back.

"It's an honor," says Jasmene Bowdry, who joins this first cohort. Bowdry is a retail strategist, fashion entrepreneur, and founder of SHIFT StyleHouse®, a contemporary clothing boutique for modern renaissance women. "I'm committed to helping our students find their passions and look forward to watching them grow."

Stacey Marsh, co-founder and former CEO of the successful Flatout Flatbreads also joins the 2020–2021 cohort. "What I find most inspiring about this program is its real-world applications. Its tangibility. Right now, especially, we crave meaningful connections. This program harnesses that desire."

Neil Kane

Neil Kane: Why today is the right time to start a business

Neil Kane is an educator in the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and co-author of The Innovator’s Secret Formula.

Despite the many challenges in today’s world, from social unrest to a global pandemic to economic catastrophe for many and the uncertainty that entails, it is still a great time to start a business.

[Read the entire article by clicking here.]

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