Success Story: Harnessing entrepreneurial energy

April 13, 2022

Entrepreneurship is poised to take a giant leap forward at NMC this year, with five student teams in the final stage of developing products they’ll pitch during Northern Michigan Startup Week.

John Monaghan and Max Streeter

The student pitch competition is one of many events planned for NMSW May 9–15. It’s the region’s largest endeavor to date to teach and promote entrepreneurship, showcase local talent and foster a culture of entrepreneurship.

In the process, students practice experiential learning, an impactful and engaging learning style that NMC has embraced collegewide as part of its strategic plan.

Marine technology student Max Streeter, 21, and engineering technology student John Monaghan, 35 (left and right), are partners on one of the products. It’s a color ink cartridge – tentatively named the Prism – and kit that allows customers to adapt clear, 3D printer filament to the color of their choice.

Prism Step by Step graphicThe idea originated with Streeter, a longtime 3D printer user. Through five different iterations in which they focused on making the Prism more user-friendly, adaptable to multiple printers and less expensive, however, it’s truly become the pair’s joint venture. (The photo to the right shows the kit, installation and results.)

“It wouldn’t be where it is today without someone to bounce things off of,” Streeter said.

“He could take this to be the Amazon of 3D printing,” said Monaghan.

Monaghan and Streeter are enrolled in a special topics course sponsored by the NMC Foundation through an innovation grant. The course requires a problem or issue to be selected, customers to be identified, a solution to be created, and value to be validated. Keith Kelly is the instructor. He said students have embraced the spirit of NMSW in their work this semester.

“There is so much great work around ideation, design thinking, project management, and communication,” he said.

A start-up weekend was held in 2014. This year’s week-long event reflects the growth of the area’s entrepreneurial culture since then, with many partners and collaborators.

“Community engagement has been huge,” Kelly said.

“You don’t need to be working at a startup to attend these events,” said Keri Amlotte, director of marketing at 20Fathoms and spokesperson for Northern Michigan Startup Week. “Everyone is invited and the events will be of interest not only to startup veterans, but to anyone who is curious about entrepreneurship, has an idea for a new business they want to explore, or those who simply want to learn about some of the exciting things happening in our local startup scene.”

Besides the pitch competition, other events include Space Night at the Hagerty Center, a “Funding Innovation” lunch, a Startup Expo at 20Fathoms in downtown Traverse City, and a showcase of startups from Michigan universities. The NMC Innovation Center will also host the final event, TechStars, on May 13–15. The experience of building a startup will be condensed to a weekend. Peruse and register for all NMSW events here.

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