Report Index


Alex Schiff, BBA '13
Founder, Fetchnotes

When Alex Schiff, BBA '13, enrolled at the University of Michigan in fall 2009, he had no plans to launch a technology-based start-up company. His entrepreneurial ambition surfaced in his sophomore year when he co-developed the concept for Fetchnotes, a mobile and Web note-taking application, in an engineering course. Over the summer and following year, Schiff and his team began laying the cornerstone for their company at TechArb, a student start-up accelerator operated jointly by the Zell Lurie Institute and Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering. “We faced a lot of uncertainty while we were learning how to start a business, recruit employees and organize teams,”he says. “TechArb gave us the community we needed as young entrepreneurs to survive our first year and grow our company.” A $5,000 TechArb grant enabled Fetchnotes to hire a Michigan student for the summer. Schiff delved into venture-capital investment during an independent study and classes with Finance Professor David Brophy and tested the entrepreneurial waters for a few months at Benzinga, a start-up founded by Ross alumnus Jason Raznick. Through the Law School's new ZEAL Entrepreneurship Clinic, Schiff tapped into a comprehensive suite of free legal services that put Fetchnotes on a solid legal footing. The clinic, which is part of the Zell Entrepreneurship And Law program, “saved us thousands of dollars and an unbelievable amount of time,”he says. “Student lawyers, working under a practicing attorney, helped us convert Fetchnotes from a Michigan Limited Liability Company to a Delaware C Corporation, which allowed us to accept outside investment. They also drew up all our contracts and employee documents.”Fetchnotes raised nearly half a million dollars from investors following a stint at the TechStars start-up accelerator in Boston and officially launched in April 2012. “We're based in Boston, but we still maintain strong U-M connections,”Schiff says.