Identifying intercontinental and cross-cultural opportunities and weaving them into unique profit-building innovations can be a daunting task for a small start-up, especially when a high cost-risk ratio is factored.  Michigan State University offers a multitude of resources for global entrepreneurs for understanding how to tackle the most common roadblocks: market commonality/divergence recognition, foreign economy entrance, and network access for concrete business-services platform.

  • msuENet is a network that focuses primarily on connecting student venture and social entrepreneurs with education, resource, mentors, advocates, and funding.  Their certificate program uses experiential learning, hands-on innovation, and research to highlight skills start-ups mandate. 
  • Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Eli Broad College of Business comprises of faculty members from multiple disciplines conducting academic and applied research on a variety of topics pertaining to entrepreneurship.  Not only do they play a key role in proving students with knowledge and experience, but they also serve in stimulating economic growing by being a resource for Michigan’s start-ups.
  • globalEDGE delivers a comprehensive resources for academics, students, and businesspersons interested in entrepreneurship.  Online Course Modules are a guided learning tool with case studies and narration that cover topics from new venture creation, internationalize, barriers, and measuring market drivers.  Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), a not-for-profit research program that focuses on providing data on entrepreneurial activity for over 70 countries, is one of the many resources highlighted on globalEDGE related to internationalization of small business.

Benjamin Ebert-Zavos, co-founder of the TempoRun app and senior in The Eli Broad College of Business, explains his journey as a young entrepreneur:

What inspired you to come up with the TempoRun app idea? Just based on your personal experience of running and then hearing a slow song and ruining your pace?

“Josh Leider, my partner and CEO of TempoRun actually came up with the idea while he was on a run this past summer. During the run Josh was listening to music and a song was playing that perfectly matched his pace. In Josh’s words, “the song was completely fluid and consistent with my pacing for the extent of the song itself.” Once the song concluded, a slower track came on that entirely threw off Josh’s momentum. Josh thought, wow! Why can’t I always run to the tempo of my music. Hence, TempoRun was born. Josh and I have been close friends since meeting at orientation freshman year. He knew that I am a competitive distance runner, so he came to me with the concept and here we are today making it a reality”

What made you take the first step into making the app a reality?  Did you decide just to go with it or did you know it was going to be a success right off the bat?

“Honestly, TempoRun started as simply a tool for us to use on a small scale to overall improve the quality of our runs. A study conducted by Brunnel University concluded that running to the tempo of music will improve your cardiovascular output by up to 15%. Using these statistics we concluded that using music tempo as a guide will ultimately help a runner achieve their pacing and distance goals. We understood that we had the data to back up the feasibility of the app, yet we didn’t have anyone to physically build it.

Josh and I ran with the idea by reaching out to the Computer Science Department at MSU who connected us with Arend Hintze, an Adjunct Professor from Germany, who has been a game changer for us. Arend walked us through what would be necessary for TempoRun’s creation and pointed us to two of his best students, Phil Getzen and Adam Proschek who are two of our three developers today. Recently we added Ryan Tempas to our team of five.”

What resources did you use at MSU?

“A lot has gone into making TempoRun and without MSU TempoRun wouldn’t be in existence. MSU has provided us grants through Spartan Innovations, MSU Hillel & MSUEntrepreneurship, Funded 4 of our team members to attend South by Southwest (SWSX) in Austin, Texas where we won Student Start Up Madness, given us office space in the business incubator The Hatch on Grand River, offered us a mentor in Paul Jacques, Jeff Smith and Forrest Carter, on top of conducting many interviews with the TempoRun team that MSU has blasted out on their social media channels, creating a greater scope for our brand.

I could probably go on for hours about what MSU has done for us and we’re genuinely so appreciative of the University.”    

How hard was it to get funding for the project?

“With all of the grant opportunities that MSU offers through Spartan Innovations and MSU Entrepreneurship, finding funding for the project has been relatively hassle free. Both organizations have funds available for start-ups in addition to the services that are offered at The Hatch. The Hatch has several interns that specialize in everything from strategic planning, to design and marketing to assist in the process. This cuts out a significant portion of the costs of a start-up like us.

In addition, these associations and the university itself hosts several pitch contests throughout the year that offer prize money, grants and business services for the winners. We have been very fortunate to have won first place in the Broad Pitch Contest this past Fall and first place in the GreenLight Michigan pitch contest on March the 13th.”

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