A team of MBA students from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business chose Fargo as one of four stops in a cross-country road trip to work with startups across the nation. They are part of Ross’s Open Road, a new action-based social entrepreneurship program developed by Ross students and based on the MBAs Across America Open Road model.
“The aim of the program is to give small business owners extra help in solving complex challenges, and to help students gain firsthand experience understanding the various issues social ventures face,” Ross School of Business states.
Two teams of four students are taking part in the five week long cross-country road trip. Team SASA, Sarah Haroon, Anita Lin, Sanmeet Jasuja and Alexander Ho, is here in Fargo this week. They are working Emerging Prairie on a project slotted to launch later this year called the Community Activities Office.
Modeled after the a student activities office on a college campus, the Community Activities Office aims to be a hub for planning meet-ups and events. Emerging Prairie’s program director Annie Wood said it is a concept that has been tossed around for over a year, but that lack of capacity has prevented from becoming a reality.
“We haven’t had time to devote the resources we need,” Wood said. “Having the MBA students here is a great opportunity to get an outside look at the concept and give us feedback.”
The students are working on a business plan for the concept as well as conducting validation processes through interviews with community members. The goal is to launch the program by the end of 2016.
Emerging Prairie is just one of four companies that team SASA will work with in their five week journey. Haroon said Fargo caught their attention because of the energy in the startup community, particularly the drone industry, and events with a large presence such as TEDxFargo.
“We chose Fargo because it was a place we’ve never been before,” Haroon ‘17 said. “Fargo is different in the sense that a lot of people haven’t heard of it or been…and that’s something we wanted.”
Since arriving on Monday, they said their time in Fargo has been some of the best yet.
“We are so happy we came to Fargo,” Jasuja said. “It really has been the best week so far.”
The two teams combined will visit everywhere from North Dakota to Texas, meeting with a total of nine companies in seven states. Prior to Fargo, team SASA worked with Mitten Crate in Detroit, MI and Garden Fresh Farms in Maplewood, MN. On Saturday, they will continue their journey to work with Flipgrid in Minneapolis, MN.
Team SASA will be working out of the Prairie Den this week, and presenting their work at the Prairie Den on Friday at 10:30 AM. All are welcome to join.