Student Organizations Help Fuel the University’s Entrepreneurial Engine

When Sydney Bigelow arrived at the University of Michigan, she knew very little about entrepreneurship and the world of innovation. She’d originally hoped to major in biology, but, one day, she saw a group of students in the Diag that captured her attention. That group was MPowered.

“I wasn’t sure who they were or what they were doing,” says Bigelow, “but just seeing how motivated and passionate they were, I knew I had to get involved.”

The entrepreneurial landscape at the University of Michigan has been changing over the last decade, and so much of the shift has bubbled up from the students. One catalyst in that change is MPowered Entrepreneurship, a student organization dedicated to encouraging University of Michigan students to develop, pursue, and realize their innovative goals.

“I’ve learned just as much being a part of MPowered as I have in class,” says Bigelow, who is currently a junior and the student president of MPowered. “It’s been the greatest experience of my college career.”

According to their mission statement, MPowered’s goal is twofold: “to bring out the few courageous self-starters among us to begin their entrepreneurial journey, and… to spread their bold passion to the rest of the U-M community. In short, we’re starting the fire.”

That fire is roaring. Entrepreneurial student organizations, like MPowered, have transformed entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan by providing creative and innovative outlets and resources for students, no matter their area of study. Now numbering more than 30, these organizations are capable of connecting students across disciplines. While challenging, entrepreneurial student organizations provide their members with the opportunity to network, compete, empower, and experience entrepreneurship in the safety net of the collegiate world.

Here are just a few notable student organizations at the University of Michigan.


MPowered Entrepreneurship

MPowered has been the guiding force behind the wide array of entrepreneurial initiatives on campus that allow its students to transform their ideas into action that will benefit the community and world at large. MPowered has exposed over 1500 students to entrepreneurship, has brought over 2000 students to Michigan from other states, has led to over 400 startups and companies coming to Michigan, and has set 2 world records. With such competitions and events like 1000 Pitches, Take36, Startup Career Fair, and more, MPowered has started an entrepreneurial “fire” on campus.



optimize for studentsoptiMize Social Innovation Partnership

optiMize is the perfect place for innovative students, no matter their major, who are passionate about social change. Their Social Innovation Challenge, which allows students to pitch their idea for the chance to win prize money. In 2016, optiMize awarded $155,000 to 14 teams. optiMize is open to any student, and it is a perfect way to practice pitching your idea as well as win funds to carry out your idea.



Women Who Launch

Women Who Launch was founded in the spring of 2014, by Marianna Kerppola, Alexandra Pulst-Korenberg, and Stefanie Thomas, all current or former graduate students of the University of Michigan. The org, which Kerppola and her co-founders were adamant in making open to all majors, not just Ross students, aims at connecting female students and entrepreneurs with one another as well as established businesswomen, through various events, informal networking opportunities, and workshops.



D[en] (Detroit Entrepreneurship Network) is a student organization that strives to improve the city of Detroit through entrepreneurial activity. Their goal is to bring together high school students from the inner-city and suburbs to work together in order to better the city. The members participate in workshops, team building activities, group and individual tasks, discussions, and field trips. There are eight sessions, and each one is dedicated to teaching high schoolers various entrepreneurial skills in order to turn their ideas into action.


CENChina Entrepreneur Network

China Entrepreneur Network (CEN) aims to promote comprehensive innovation in community to achieve economic prosperity, environmental sustainability and social harmony. Specifically focusing on China’s development, CEN seeks to understand the poverty and environmental problems while exploring efforts to create sustainable paths to social harmony and investments in this area. CEN approach to entrepreneurship focuses on innovation of thinking, technological innovation, business model innovation, social mechanism innovation and public policy innovation.



A nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading”, TEDxUofM is a university-wide initiative that gathers the community for an event full of inspiration, discovery, and innovation. The TED-style talks focus on new ideas and opportunities across all disciplines.


View a full list of student entrepreneurial organizations at UM.

Written by Hannah Gordon, Innovate Blue Student Associate.

Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Comment

* required