A University of Michigan (U-M) student project facilitating easier insertion of contraceptive implants in third-world countries will compete in both the Michigan Business Challenge (MBC) and the challenge's "impact track" semi-finals on March 15.
MBC is a business plan competition, organized through U-M's Zell Lurie Institute (ZLI), where undergraduate and graduate student teams can win cash prizes and receive feedback from business leaders in the community. Competition participants complete key entrepreneurial steps, such as creating a strong pitch, conducting a marketing and financial assessment, and writing a business plan.
In addition to the main MBC track, there is also the Seigle Impact Track, where businesses with social or environmental considerations can compete.
ZLI managing director Sarika Gupta says the impact track was created a few years ago due to the large interest teams had in creating businesses that helped the community.
Eight student teams were selected for this year's MBC semi-finals, and four student teams were selected for the impact track semi-finals. SubQ Assist, presented by MBA candidate Vinayak Gokhale, is the only team to compete in both tracks.
SubQ Assist is a device that simplifies the administration of contraceptive implants. This device minimizes the likelihood of complications during removal and allows minimally trained healthcare workers to provide safe access to contraceptive implants in rural areas where physicians may be scarce or nonexistent. The SubQ Assist team designed their device in collaboration with Ethiopian healthcare providers.
Gokhale says participating in MBC has come at a good time for the SubQ Assist team since they are finishing a clinical trial and will be looking for investors and distributors soon.
"We are trying to gain visibility with investors, and MBC has given us a great background to do that, especially if we reach the finals," Gokhale says.
Gupta says SubQ Assist advanced far in both tracks due to its detailed business plan and future expansion plans.
"There is a clear impact, and they were able to exploit their business model and show how to scale up," Gupta says. "That's what sets them apart."
The semi-final and final rounds are on March 15. Teams will present business plans and answer questions from judges. Four teams will then be chosen to advance to the final round later that day where teams will discuss their businesses with judges during a 25-minute round table session.
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Zell Lurie Institute.