EECS students Jason Bornhorst, Dheeraj Sanka, and Brent Traut are taking
advantage of the resources Michigan is devoting to entrepreneurial
enterprises. Based on an idea he had during a seminar in entrepreneurship,
taught by Prof. Elliot Soloway, Jason worked with Dheeraj and Brent this
past summer to create an online service to help incoming students find
campus rentals. They called their new company CampusRoost, Inc.
CampusRoost was successful in helping many students find housing, but
quickly changed in concept to be a website designed for students and others
to connect with their neighbors. They do this by sending out "chirps" to
their neighbors, many of whom they've never met.
The student entrepreneurs were supported in their venture by the RPM-10
program, which is a partnership between RPM Ventures and the College of
Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE). RPM 10 specializes in
helping young entrepreneurs like Jason, Dheeraj and Brent take the risk of
starting a new company in Michigan by providing office space, financial
assistance, and advice from the local business community. The reigning
philosophy is that learning by doing is the best method, and that starting
any company means success to a budding entrepreneur, regardless of the
ultimate success of any single company.
The students agree. "Our experience this summer was worth its weight in
gold," said CampusRoost's CEO Jason Bornhorst. "We're going to see how far
we can take CampusRoost - hopefully pick up some additional funding so we
can continue to work on it after graduation."
"The goal of the undergrad experience is generally to prepare people to
enter the real world," added Brent, chief technical officer. "I'm fairly certain RPM10 and CampusRoost in general couldn't be beat as far as reaching that goal.
Instead of being told how employers will work and what pieces of engineering
are truly important, we took our own crash course and found real answers to
those questions." Brent is amazed at what they accomplished with no concrete
Dheeraj, chief information officer, also appreciates how the experience enriched their undergraduate
careers, adding that "the kind of experience we have been able to derive
from this opportunity has been immense."
In addition to the the support and mentorship provided through RPM-10 and
the CFE, the students have greatly appreciated the various entrepreneurial
and EECS courses they've taken at U-M, and the support and mentorship
provided by the student group MPowered Entrepreneurship.