'Green' conference at EMU on Friday

In an effort to aid aspiring business owners, while focusing on green innovations, the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization will be hosting the Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference this Friday at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center.

The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast followed by opening remarks. From then on, three breakout sessions similar to Q&A assemblies, a sit-down lunch, two keynote speeches and the Skandalaris Business Plan Competition are scheduled until 2 p.m.

The main issue addressed in the conference will be concerning the importance of young talent in Michigan.

“Like Governor Snyder has said lately, we need to revitalize Michigan,” CEO Vice President of Events Andrew Toole said. “And we can help with that if we push these kids in the right direction. But we need them to stay in Michigan and not move out of the state.”

This is where Bizdom U comes in. Created by Chairman and Founder of Quicken Loans Dan Gilbert, this non-profit organization will be offering the deal of a lifetime to serious entrepreneurs who attend Friday’s conference.

Its strategy is to turn a “C company” — more or less an idea for a company — into an operating business after four months of training and mentoring. Bizdom U will even fund the launching process, as long as the business intends to stay in Detroit.

Three people involved in Bizdom U are scheduled to participate in a breakout session as well as many other upcoming names.

“We worked really hard to get a lot of young, hip speakers who have been in the news lately to draw people in,” CEO President Melissa Heatlie said. “I’m anxious to see how it all comes together.”

One of the keynote speakers, Elizabeth Redmond, founder of POWERleap, will demonstrate how wasted pedestrian and vehicular traffic can generate electricity.

Redmond’s discovery, which began as a research project while attending the University of Michigan, has made it as far east as Saudi Arabia.

The other keynote speaker is Chris Kondogiani of Adaptive Materials Inc.

His duties include commercial marketing, contributing to ground-breaking power sources for robotic systems and securing finances for the Department of Defense and the State of Michigan.

The final event of the day will be the Skandalarnis Competition in which six local students selected from an original 100 will compete by presenting their own business plan for cash prizes totaling $5,000.

Three finalists are competing on a high school level and three on a college level, including EMU students Randy Wiltshire and Nikole Viltz.

“There are some really interesting ideas that come out of this, especially from the high schoolers,” said Heatlie, who has participated in the CEO for four years.”I always love to see what they can think of.”

Participants will be expected to define key operating components such as a target market and start-up fees in front of a panel of judges.

All EMU faculty, staff and students are invited as well as other universities, community colleges and high schools with curriculum centered on business or entrepreneurship.

The event is free, but registration is required at the event’s website.

“It’s a great place to get focused, especially if you’re serious about starting a business soon,” said Toole, a business major at EMU. “Plus, there’s going to be a ton of opportunities in networking.”

Roughly 365 students have registered to attend and the limit is set at 450. This is the 14th year for the CEO to hold the conference since the Sesi family initially requested one to be held.

With the money the Sesi family donated and additional funds the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization has raised on its own, the CEO expects to be around for at least 10 more years.


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