Report Index


In addition to financial capital, start-ups also must procure human capital, including management teams, board advisors and providers of legal and other services. Students learn and test their skill in resourcing from the investors’ side of the equation by taking active roles in the Frankel Commercialization Fund, the Wolverine Venture Fund, and the new Social Venture Fund.

Developing the Skill   Venture Capital Finance Course
Marcel Gani Summer Internship Program
Wolverine Venture Fund
Frankel Commercialization Fund
Social Venture Fund

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition Winner

Shahnoor Amin, MSE ’10, Co-founder, June Energy

Can innovative technology create a better life for people living in rural Asian and African villages? Shahnoor Amin, MSE ’10, the co-founder of June Energy, believes it can. He and his off-campus partner, engineer Abdra Traore, have designed a portable solar-powered device, the Emerald, to provide lighting and electricity cost-effectively to residents of remote, underserved areas. Their concept emerged from an earlier effort to create a large-scale, solar-powered, electrical-generation system for a village in the Republic of Guinea. When the system proved too costly, Amin and Traore scaled down to a handheld solar-powered unit. In 2009, while Amin was pursuing his graduate degree in energy-systems engineering at the U-M College of Engineering, the two inventors pitched their idea in the Alternative Energy Competition and the MPowered 1000 Pitches competition, winning top honors. “As engineers, we didn’t know the market or where to go,” Amin recalls. “We heard about the Zell Lurie Institute and met with program coordinator Anne Perigo to discuss our idea. She connected us to David Cieminis, MS/MBA ’10, and we formed a business-development team.” The team perfected its business model and grew its network by participating in the Michigan Business Challenge, intercollegiate business competitions, Dare to Dream and TechArb, a student start-up accelerator. Shortly after the company’s August 2010 launch, June Energy won the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. RPM Ventures, an Ann Arbor venture-capital firm, provided $15,000 in funding for product development and testing. “Right now, we’re focused on R&D, fundraising and building an interdisciplinary, high-performance team,” Amin says.