Report Index


Skill in business planning is essential for a successful company launch. Students are taught how to “operationalize” a business, not just create a document.

Developing the Skill   Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurial Management & New Venture Creation Courses
Dare to Dream Integration Grants up to $10,000
Michigan Business Challenge (final rounds)
TechArb Accelerator
Michigan Growth Capital Symposium

Accelerating a Start-up

Tyler Paxton, MBA ’11, Are You a Human

Two years ago, Tyler Paxton, MBA ’11, came up with an idea for a software solution that offers online companies a more reliable, customer-friendly way to secure their Web sites against spammers and also increase their advertising revenue. His business concept led to the founding of Are You a Human, which provides an alternative to conventional CAPTCHAs, the distorted text and number images consumers must retype in a blank box to validate their authenticity as users. Are You a Human’s software uses task-based CAPTCHAs, such as dragging a slice of pepperoni into a pizza, which can be branded with a manufacturer’s product name and serve as an interactive-advertising tool. “Four other MBA students from the Ross School joined the company as co-founders, and together we worked on the business plan,” Paxton says. “We also competed in the Michigan Business Challenge and the Rice University Business Plan Competition where we received helpful feedback.” The start-up netted two Dare to Dream grants to support business feasibility and integration work. It also landed a $10,000 Norman C. Harbert Summer Accelerator grant from TechArb, a student start-up accelerator where Paxton and his team conducted extensive customer research. “These programs and grants got us to the point where we felt comfortable about raising money,” he says. In June, the company secured series A round funding from a syndicate of investors including the Frankel Commercialization Fund ($750,000), Detroit Venture Partners and the First Step Fund. This fall, Are You a Human will relocate to offices in downtown Detroit and release its first live production software product.