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Inaugural Student Tech Trek: A U-M Student’s Perspective

April 3, 2019 Startup Ecosystem
man and woman shaking hands at Tech Trek
Menlo’s dog-friendly culture was on display.

Through my work with Ann Arbor SPARK, I recently learned about and was able to attend, their Student Tech Trek and get a glimpse of the amazing startup scene in downtown Ann Arbor.  I’ve been heavily involved in U-M’s entrepreneurship programs for about a year and a half now but this was my first exposure to Ann Arbor’s own culture of business with everything from new ventures to large, established companies.  As first introductions go, this really couldn’t have been better. The day started off with the opportunity to speed-network with about a dozen businesses and network faster than I would ever be able to on my own. SPARK was able to bring an incredibly diverse range of companies, in everything from software development, to chemical manufacturing, to smart security.  Backyard Brains and Billy were able to pique my interest immediately because they are hardware-focused companies and I thought with my background in electrical engineering, I would be able to really contribute to their short- and long-term goals.

After speed-networking, we were able to tour a few of the larger companies in the downtown area including  Barracuda and The Forge by Pillar (which was recently acquired by Accenture).  It was incredibly interesting to see the environments that some of these companies work in, and they all seemed incredibly excited to have students interested in what they were doing.

Another student experiencing the Student Tech Trek, meeting with Atomic Object.

The trek was really an amazing experience, and I was glad my work with SPARK brought it to my attention. It gave me the opportunity to learn so much about entrepreneurship in Ann Arbor. I was able to rapidly network with about a dozen companies, I saw a few larger businesses in person, and I learned how diverse the missions of some of these companies are, and that Ann Arbor’s downtown tech scene offers career opportunities for a wide range of job seekers.

Contributed by Jacob Quinn, a sophomore in the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering studying Electrical Engineering. He’s heavily involved with entrepreneurship programs on campus through his membership in the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and is incredibly passionate about sustainability in innovation.