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Ann Arbor, MI

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How to start a startup at Michigan

Student Groups


V1 is the community for ambitious student builders at the University of Michigan.


University of Michigan's first student-led product management organization. Accepts new members at the start of each semester and gives members access to speaker events, workshops, project experiences, mock interviews and recruiting help and a strong product community.


Have an idea you want to build out? You can win up to $20,000 through the OptiMize Challenge to make it a reality. OptiMize is a student-led organization at the University of Michigan that offers workshops, mentorship, and funding for students to create self-directed projects that make a positive impact.

Michigan Hackers

As the name suggests, Michigan Hackers is a student group that focuses largely on computer science and software development. They run a multitude of great educational workshops on software development and attract some well-known companies to give really informative tech talks.


From pitch competitions to workshops, MPowered is a great place to explore your interest in startups. Also hosts a startup career fair.

Michigan FinTech

The first and largest fintech initiative at UofM. Conferences, workshops, and action-based learning opportunities.

Women Who Launch

Aiming to create gender equal entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Accelerators and Incubators

V1 Product Studio

Product Studio is a semester-long program to help you build a software product from scratch. From ideation, forming a team, to marketing and launching—it helps you all the way.


Shift is a student run incubator program that consists of a cohort of around 20 students each year. Provides maker space and mentorship in addition to a community that encourages you to bring your ideas into fruition.

DESAI Accelerator

A joint initiative between the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Michigan Ross and the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. 10-month accelerator program is open to early-stage startups founded by would be recent-grads.


Michigan's only student-run startup incubator that offers ideation workshops and even grants.

Tech Arb

A student venture accelerator that gives portfolio companies premier access to expert mentors, tailored programming, material support, dedicated workspace and a community of like-minded, high-achieving peers.

optiMize Challenge

A 6-month incubator program for social innovators - runs October through March and provides workshops, mentorship, and up to $20,000 in funding for your project.

Hackathons and Competitions


MHacks is one of the largest and most prestigious collegiate hackathons in the nation. Large companies and venture capitalists alike often make an appearance. No prior experience necessary to register. Hack under a variety of subtracks like Social Justice or Medical!.

Michigan Business Challenge

Run by the Zell Lurie Institute, the Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where student teams have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling over $100,000, gain feedback from leaders in the business community, and expand their business network.

1000 Pitches

A month-long campus-wide pitch competition with a $1000 grand prize.


A 36-hour product design competition that provides materials and mentorship for competing students.

University Resources

V1 Startup Career Fair

Startup Fair is a bi-annual career fair organised by V1 for fast-growing startups to recruit the best talent from Michigan. Some startups which have recruited in the past include Ramp, Bubble, and Applied Intuition.

Zell Entrepreneurs Program

Immersive, year-long program where upon graduation members will receive support, mentorship, resources, and funding to get their ventures launch ready. Zell Entrepreneurs is open to final-year students from all University of Michigan schools and colleges in Ann Arbor.

Discovery Treks

One day visits to entrepreneurial ecosystems around Michigan, introducing students to startups, alumni, and resources available to them and their potential ventures.

Zell Lurie Institute

Advances the knowledge and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation through a broad range of activities, including academics, symposium, competitions, and global community outreach. A great place to start for all things entrepreneurship at Michigan.

College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship

Search for entrepreneurship courses and opportunities/resources

Startup Career Fair (MPowered)

Hosted by MPowered - an annual campus-wide recruiting event that connects 750+ student developers, designers, and students interested in entrepreneurship to career and internship opportunities at 40+ startups.

Entrepreneurs Leadership Program

A year-long fellowship program that combines teaching, mentorship, and training. Students study entrepreneurial leadership, strategy, and culture through the 3-Credit Entrepreneurial Leadership Course (Winter semester) and 3-Credit Entrepreneurial Action and Vision Course (Fall semester). Then, they get exclusive access to summer internship opportunities at select startups. ELP is open to students from all schools and colleges, academic programs, and years.

Notable Courses

Digital Product Design (ENTR 390.012)

Learn the total end-to-end process of discovering a digital product need, prototyping a digitized product and getting feedback to relentlessly improve it.

Organizational Mangement in Startups (ENTR 490.014)

Learn about vision, culture, storytelling, mission, strategy development, the role of the CEO, the difference between the CIO and the CEO, communicators, hiring / firing and operations and management.

Entrepreneurship Marketing (ENTR 413/599.413)

Learn how to build a strategic marketing plan for repeatable, scalable growth.

Intro to Entrepreneurial Design (ENTR 390.005)

This cross-disciplinary gateway course allows you to explore patterns of thought that help you anticipate and drive innovation.

Entrepreneurial E-commerce (ENTR 390.011)

Learn the fundamentals for selling consumer products online, resulting in the creation of your own e-commerce site. Topics will include marketing, shipping, selling platforms, potential pitfalls and competitor analysis.

ENTR Minor

CFE Course Listing

Entrepreneurs Leadership Program

(see above).



University-focused venture fund investing up to $2M in emerging startups launching from the university scene around the US.

Dare to Dream Grants

The Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream grant program moves University of Michigan students through the business creation process by offering business development seminars and awarding $300-$5,000 in grants to individuals and/or student teams. Applications are accepted in September and January.

UpRound Venture Capital

A student group that connects startups with investors.

Wolverine Venture Fund

UofM's student-run venture capital fund.  Invests in companies that have achieved enough progress to attract a priced round of venture capital from an established venture capital firm that will serve as the lead investor.

Social Venture Fund

Impact investment fund at the University of Michigan.

Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund

A student-run early-stage investment fund with the primary goal of identifying promising young startups in the University of Michigan community and surrounding areas and helping them build great companies. Often one of the first institutional investors in its portfolio companies.

Zell Early Stage Fund

A venture capital and pre-venture capital investment fund operated by Ross BBA students under the supervision of the Fund's Faculty Managing Director. The Fund is modeled on ZLI's famous Wolverine Venture Fund and the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. The Fund invests real money in real deals in real companies. It is a capstone course that awards 3 credits in the Winter terms of your junior and senior years.

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