Blog: Moses Lee

Since its inception, TechArb, U-M's student start-up accelerator, has put $5 million into 97 student-run ventures. Moses Lee, co-founder of truApp and director of TechArb, writes about recruiting college students and this summer's crop of student entrepreneurs.

Why I have a tech startup in Michigan't you love a good underdog story? We Americans love them. Why do you think Rocky is one of the most popular movies of all time?

As much as none of us like to be down and out, there's something inspiring about being on the "us-against-the-world" team. The woes of Michigan have been well documented. Michigan has high unemployment and apparently people are fleeing the state at a staggering rate. Michigan is often the butt of jokes on late night TV and political commentary. I, for one, am going to fight for this state and help restore it to its former glory.


I'm going to roll up my sleeves and build an amazing startup in this state and encourage others to do likewise.Seriously, Michigan is a great place to start a company. We have great talent, universities, infrastructure, community, and culture. And the cost of living here is so much more affordable than the other tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and NYC. (While I was working in NYC, I spent $1,000 a month to share a studio on the upper west side. In Ann Arbor, $1,000 a month gets you a 1,200 square foot apartment!)  And more risk capital is flowing into the state to help spur entrepreneurship.

Here's my story: I co-founded truApp with other alumni from the University of Michigan. We are a talented bunch with backgrounds in engineering, architecture, humanities, and business. We are housed in the new Menlo Innovations office space, where we get to interact with Richard Sheridan, CEO, on a daily basis!.

Before Menlo Innovations, we were in the Ann Arbor Spark Incubator for six months, receiving all sorts of help, including a microloan. (We quickly outgrew the space and had to move!) Every day I meet entrepreneurs, investors, and state officials who want to help us build and take truApp to the next level.

Our startup is closing in on a sizable seed round and we are thrilled with the experience that our investors and mentors are bringing to the table. And we believe our core concept will directly help keep collegiate talent in the state! We currently have over 1,300 college students and 140 companies on the platform, such as Under Armour, Compuware, Pay Anywhere, and SapientNitro.

But it hasn't all been smooth; there are definite challenges to starting a company in the state. For one, raising capital is not that easy, as there are fewer angel and VCs here (and specifically those looking to fund digital media deals) than elsewhere. In addition, we don't have many areas with a high density of entrepreneurs as say California, Colorado, or New York. And culturally, we as a state are still learning what it means to embrace risk and failure.

Despite this, I can't imagine starting truApp anywhere else. Will we succeed? We will. And I can tell you that just like many others starting companies in this great state, we are going to fight hard for it. Don't you want to be a part of this amazing story?

Reach Moses at or @mosesklee.