UM’s annual Entrepalooza symposium to feature Veronika Scott of the Empowerment Plan

ANN ARBOR — Entrepreneurship programs from across the University of Michigan are teaming up to host the annual Entrepalooza symposium on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave. in Ann Arbor.

This year’s event, focused on the theme of “Nuts and Bolts,” will explore what it really takes to start a business — going beyond innovative ideas, determination and the more enticing elements of entrepreneurship to dig deep into the personal implications and practical aspects that go into identifying, forming and running a business.

The event will kick off with a keynote address from Veronika Scott, founder and CEO of the Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based social enterprise that employs the homeless. While in college, Scott invented the Element S, a coat which is self heated, waterproof and capable of transforming into a sleeping bag at night.

Scott, who will share the story of her journey as a socially minded entrepreneur, has built an entrepreneurial organization that began around a single idea: to design a coat specifically for the homeless. That idea has now transformed into a system of empowerment in which homeless women are paid to learn how to produce coats for people living on the streets, giving them an opportunity to earn money, find a place to live and gain back their independence for themselves and their families. For her extraordinary efforts, Veronika Scott was named a “CNN Hero” by the network in 2016. Scott was the youngest person ever to receive the JFK New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and was invited to lead a TEDx talk.

Following her 9:15 a.m. keynote and an opportunity for networking, attendees will be able to attend a number of workshops to help them think about and refine their approach to a number of critical elements, including financing, marketing, coding and legal.

The workshops will be led by members of the U-M and local entrepreneurial community, including:
* Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneurial services at Ann Arbor Spark, and William Crane, founder & CEO of IndustryStar Solutions, who will explore bootstrapping techniques and firsthand lessons learned
* Anna Farr, program manager at Grand Circus Coding Bootcamps, who will help entrepreneurs overcome their fears of coding in an introductory coding session
* Michael S. Melfi, member, and Joseph R. Morrison, Jr., senior associate at Bodman’s Ann Arbor office, who will together lead a workshop on Startup Law 101
* James Wilson, marketing specialist for academic programs at UM’s Center for Entrepreneurship, and Megha Krishnan, marketing and communications manager at Innovate Blue, who will cover open source design applications as an alternative to cost prohibitive software programs

Co-hosted by UM’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, the UM Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering, the UM School of Public Health’s Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship program, the UM School of Information’s Entrepreneurship Program, the UM School of Music Theatre and Dance’s EXCEL Program and Innovate Blue, the university’s campus-wide entrepreneurship initiative, Entrepalooza is an annual event that brings entrepreneurial leaders together to share their insights and experiences with students, alumni, faculty and members of the broader business community.

For more information, including a full schedule, or to register to attend the event, please visit To receive event updates or share your thoughts from the symposium, use hashtag #epalooza on Twitter.

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